Tuesday, 2 August 2022
Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Repeal of Cashless Debit Card and Other Measures) Bill 2022; Second Reading
I know about the Auditor-General's report, but I don't know the particulars of the people who did it, so I'm going to give a report, the Barnaby Joyce report. I'm going to give the report on the premise of someone who lives in Danglemar. I've lived in Werris Creek, Moree, Charleville, where we used to play against Kununurra and Quilpie, Augathella when I lived in St George. I'm going to give a report on my work for years with St Vincent de Paul Society. I'm going to give a report and go right back to my time—I hate to say it because I'm not proud of it—as a bouncer and saying to a lady lying on the ground, 'Pretend you're unconscious because if you get up, you're dead.' I'm going to give a report on exactly what happens when the executive function of a person's brain is taken over by alcohol and they lose all inhibitions, they lose the capacity to put on the brakes, and what they do to other people. I can tell you right now what will happen if you bring grog back into these communities—and I know these communities; you might read reports about them; I know them because I've lived and still live in these communities where these people will be affected.
What will happen? Children are going to get raped. There are no problems about that, when the issue becomes so sordid, so clouded in the fog of alcoholism; this will happen. Blokes will get beaten up, but women will be smashed to pieces. Do you know what it looks like when someone is really beaten up badly? Do you know what they look like when they have their teeth knocked out? Have you ever seen someone who's been kicked? Do you know what the bruises look like? They're like a football sized thing in their stomach, on their legs, on their head. This is what happens to people when you bring the grog back in. Do you realise that ladies will get raped? You might say, 'But that's not in the Auditor-General report.' I can tell you that's in the reality report and that's what actually happens, so anything that can reduce that is a good thing.
The people who wanted the grog taken out of these communities by taking away the money were overwhelmingly the women. They wanted it taken away. Their lives were an absolute misery. Tonight you are taking the hell back to them, and it is a hell. It's not a hell you're going to experience in this place. You're pretty forthright and you've got control of your faculties, but I can tell you that in communities around Alice Springs hell is about to come back when the grog comes back. We're sitting back tonight pontificating, talking about the Auditor-General's report and page 344, paragraph 4. Come out of that and start thinking about what you're going to do. You're really going to hurt people in the most profound way, in a way that you would find abhorrent and in a way that you would scream from the rafters if you could see it in front of your face. But you can't because it's out there. Our job is to try to bring back what's in here. How are you going to look after the women? What's your plan?
I've been to St Vincent de Paul and I've worked there for years. I worked in a thing called the night conference. If you come into the St Vincent de Paul shop three times, you get a visit from St Vincent de Paul. Do you know what it is like when the grog turns up, when the executive function and the capacity to deal with money isn't there—they don't have it? Do you know what the house looks like? Do you know what it's like to walk into a house and see human faeces on the ground? Do you know what it's like for the kids who live in that house? Do you know what it's like to walk into the house and just see everyone inebriated and lying around the walls? Do you know how dangerous it is for those kids? Do you know how dangerous their life is? If there's anything you can do to help them, you should be doing it.
You should take away the scourge, and it’s the grog. It's the VB cans in the front lawn, it's the goon they bring into the house. Now it's worse; it's meth and it's the ice. Have you ever been to people's funerals who have died of ice? I have. Good people. I remember going to her funeral—good girl, buried her. Do you know why? Because the access to cash brings the access to problems.
We had something here. It might not have been politically correct. It was probably terribly politically incorrect, probably massively politically incorrect but it worked. It worked beyond the Auditor-General's report. And if it worked for one, it worked. But it worked for far more than that. There are about 18,000 people on this. It's working for a lot of those people. It has brought sanity back into their house—sanity.
With grog, with ice, with meth comes poverty. Poverty is a horrible thing. When they come into Vinnie's because they have no food, that means the kids have no food. Do you know what it's like when kids go to school without food? I tell you what we do. We set up pie vans and pretend that every kid can go there and they can all get a feed. But we know full well there is a group of kids for whom there is insanity in their houses and we know that it is really there for them to get breakfast because we are trying to help them. That's the reality of how this works.
Did you know that people's brains develop until about their mid-20s? Anything we can do to try to wind this down we should be doing. I don't know why this is such an imperative of the new government. I wish the new government all the very best. They hold our nation in their hands, and I wish them all the very best. But for goodness' sake, do you realise what you're doing when you do this? They say, 'Oh, it's racist.' I don't care whether you are black, white, brindle, what colour or what faith you are. It's a relevant. I want you to be safe. I want you to be secure. I tell you what is incredibly redemptive. When people who have been on the grog or been on the drugs get off them, guess what? Many of the times, not all of the times, they are quite a nice person. They are quite a decent person. They just have to deal with the scourge.
In many of these remote communities, which, in a way, Danglemah is remote enough and certainly Charleville is. I know these areas. There's a thing called boredom and boredom is filled with whatever you can put into the day to get you through to the end. If you've got boredom, you've got spare time and spare time is filled by whatever gets you through to dinner time. In many instances spare cash allows you to buy the kicker, buy the VB, buy the ice, buy the meth to give you that kicker, to give you that thrill, to give some reason to the day to get it to the end. But then the day doesn't stop. See the day and the night blur into one. It just blurs into chaos. A house is no longer a house and the family is no longer a family; it's a location. The safest place for the kids in that house, for the young girls in the house, is to get the hell out of that house—anywhere. Go anywhere you like, just get out of that house.
What we in this parliament have to do is get away from this esoteric argument about the Auditor-General's report and actually have a reality check and, rather than look at the Auditor-General's report, look at the logic that resides between our own two ears and reach deep down into our hearts and put aside the parochialism of party politics and ask: What is going to keep that woman save tonight? What is going to keep that child safe tonight? What are my actual responsibilities? How strong am I? Where is my bravery? What am I prepared to do? I hope the answer is not nothing.