House debates

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Matters of Public Importance

Pensions and Benefits

3:25 pm

Photo of Michael SukkarMichael Sukkar (Deakin, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Social Services) Share this | Hansard source

The decision to abolish the cashless debit card, in Noel Pearson's words, will see the government leaving affected communities with violence, hunger and neglected children. I can understand why the minister's a bit touchy about that. We'll see neglected children! That will be the outcome of the decision made by this government to abolish the cashless debit card. Members opposite might be very touchy about this, and so they should be. In fact, I know there are a number of very good people in the Labor Party who are utterly ashamed of the decision of the Prime Minister and this minister to impose this absolute tragedy on affected communities. There are 17,000 participants at present on the cashless debit card. What has been the process by which this government now wants to rip a tool we know is working, a tool that is improving the lives of women and children, in particular, out of those communities? Anyone with any common sense will accept that the inevitable outcome of putting more alcohol and more drugs into these communities will be devastating for them.

The least we could expect from this minister is that she would consult with those communities. Let's hear about the consultation from this hapless minister. The consultation involved a number of documents being sent to affected communities on 30 August.

Honourable members interjecting

No, hear me out, colleagues. On 30 August, the so-called CDC engagement team sent to the Goldfields a raft of documents to commence the process of consultation. There was a draft engagement plan, an engagement summary, a participation checklist, a CDC fact sheet, all very bureaucratic. That was the consultation that started on the 30 August, and they were given until midday on 2 September to come back, from 30 August to 2 September. This hapless minister, who's engaging in meaningful consultation, has given these communities less than three days to come back on an issue that is going to see devastation hitting their communities.

The minister opposite might not like the quotes that are about to come up, but these are quotes from the communities that will have the CDC ripped out of them. Ian Trust from the Wunan Foundation said:

It reduced the alcohol violence and the harassment of the elderly and vulnerable for cash when they used to go to the ATM … The government says if we want to go down that path of keeping income management that it has to be a community decision, but there's no information about how they want us to arrive at that decision or what the replacement could be.

Tammy Williams from the Family Responsibilities Commission said:

We are looking at going back to a card that doesn't match the technology of the CDC, and people will have limited access to their money, won't be able to utilise online shopping or travel outside their communities.

But it's even worse; the government is not even proposing anything viable in the place of the CDC, hence why there are so many fears about what is going to come.

Mayor Perry Will from the District Council of Ceduna said: 'The first we heard of it was in the PM's election promises that he was going to do it. Prior to that, we had no representation from any Labor politicians.' Oh, she met with him after she made the announcement! That's wonderful consultation.


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