House debates

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Matters of Public Importance

Pensions and Benefits

3:45 pm

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party, Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism) Share this | Hansard source

The bottom line of this legislation going through parliament, both in this House and in the Senate if it does next week, is that this government did it in a rush. It was one of the first pieces of legislation they put through this parliament. In fact, they moved an urgency motion to rush it through. This legislation passing will mean that this Labor government are going to place women and children in dangerous situations. They're going to place women and children, who currently are in a safer position, in a very dangerous, vulnerable situation.

The communities where the cashless debit card is were chosen very purposely. It wasn't done randomly. They were in remote communities and predominantly in remote communities that had a higher level of domestic violence and other forms of views than the rest of the communities around the country. Now, that is sad. That is a very sad and very dangerous situation. We're talking about communities where children have sexually transmitted diseases. We are talking about communities where the presentation to hospital of domestic violence, school absenteeism and the worst type of abuse you could inflict on women and children were higher than the average around the country. They were chosen very purposefully. This wasn't picking on people. This was going to communities where statistics said that women and children were in trouble, that it was dangerous to be in those communities, especially on certain nights, when the welfare money arrived. It was dangerous. These communities—and I have been to them. I grew up not that far from Ceduna. I know Ceduna very well, amongst some of the other communities. And what would happen on those nights when it was particularly dangerous, when a large part of the population was drunk, was that children would roam the streets at night because that was the safest place for them to be. It wasn't safe to be in their homes. It wasn't safe to be inside. They would roam with friends because that was the safest place for them to be.

What is this outrageous stigmatisation that the government go on about? They get a card and they can spend 80 per cent of it on essentials. They spend it on food, they spend it on clothing, they spend it on the essentials of life and they have 20 per cent left over to spend on things that you would need to spend cash on. In an ideal world, of course wouldn't want to do that, but it was done not to be victims but to protect victims. It was done to protect children who were getting sexually transmitted diseases. It was done to protect women and children from going to hospital. That's why it was done. So when this is done, when this legislation goes through and the violence goes back into those communities, shame on all of you. This ideological thing—'Oh, we're stigmatising people.' What a stigmatisation it is to give someone a card! How terrible that they had a card that they went to a supermarket and bought food and essential items with. What a stigmatisation that is! I don't understand the fact that in the first two weeks of the parliament they had to rush this through. When the violence starts increasing, when the hospital presentations start to pick up again, when the children are starting to get sexually transmitted diseases again, shame on all of you! Shame on all of you because of this ideological obsession that you can't give them a card and the terrible things that that was doing to them.

The minister said talk to people. I have, and I've also spoken to my Senate colleague, Jacinta Price, who lives in Alice Springs. So she's not qualified to comment? Is that what you're saying, Assistant Minister? That she's not qualified to comment? She has said the same thing. We can talk about a lot of virtue signalling and we can talk about a lot of symbolism, but what this government has done—if we want to talk about closing the gap, which is a very important thing to do—in passing this legislation means that the gap isn't going to get closer. You've just widened the gap, and you've widened the gap especially in the communities where this is going to be lifted. So thank you for nothing there.

Again, when the shadow minister got up—and I won't go through some of the quotes that I have here—he said that a lot of the elders in these communities are very disappointed about this and a lot of the leaders in these communities are very disappointed about this, because it had made a positive difference. I know that it made Ceduna a safer place to be in during the daytime. It meant that tourism was back and it was significantly different; you could feel the difference. So shame on you for putting those people back into danger!


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