The Cashless Debit Card has not been passed but the Senate has agreed to advance the bill to the next stage in Parliament.
The Cashless Debit Card has not been passed but the Senate has agreed to advance the bill to the next stage in Parliament. Contributed

UPDATE: Senate votes to progress cashless card bill

THE Cashless Debit Card bill has been advanced to the next stage in Parliament.

A second reading of the bill was agreed to by the Senate today, after which the matter was adjourned to the next sittings.

Thirty-two senators were in favour of moving the bill forward; 30 were against.

The next stage, which will see the Senate discuss the bill further, is expected to lead to a vote on whether or not the controversial card will be rolled out in Hinkler.

Federal Member for Parliament Keith Pitt criticised the pace the bill was progressing at, calling out those opposing the proposed trial expansion.

"The Cashless Debit Card has been listed for debate every day this week, however, debate on this legislation only started yesterday," he said.

"It's unfortunate the Labor Party and the Greens have used whatever tactics they can to delay the vote on the implementation of this important policy."

The cashless card bill has been before the Senate since mid July after the House of Representatives passed the legislation to the upper house.

The amended bill - the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018 - was reintroduced to Parliament in May after the Senate removed Hinkler as a trial site earlier this year.

The proposed trial would impact 6700 welfare recipients across the electorate - making up more than 54 per cent of the country's total participants - currently at 5700 people. Because of this influx, the amended legislation would also increase the maximum number of participants, previously capped at 10,000, to 15,000.

The proposed trial would run until June 30, 2020.

The card is designed to reduce social harm. Recipients cannot use the card to buy alcohol or gambling products.

If the bill is passed, Newstart, Youth Allowance (Jobseeker) and Parenting Payment recipients under the age of 36 and living in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay areas will be subject to the trial.

These payment types were chosen based on feedback from community stakeholders.

At least 800 people in South Australia are using the card after the trial was rolled out in the Ceduna region in 2016.

A further 1300 West Australian participants in the East Kimberley region were added to the trial in April 2016.

The most recent region to start a progressive roll-out of the cashless card was the Goldfields region (WA) several months ago. With 3600 people recently entering the trial, Goldfields is currently the largest participant.