Tuesday, 2 August 2022
Questions without Notice
Cashless Debit Card Program
My question is to the Prime Minister. The cashless debit card presently restricts 80 per cent of working-age welfare payments in vulnerable communities from being spent on alcohol, drugs and gambling. Will you, Prime Minister, guarantee there'll be no increase in the number of drunken, violent acts suffered by women and children when you cancel the card, as you've promised?
I thank the member for the question, because there has been a lot of rhetoric heard in the debate from the shadow minister, and also in the debate last night, but not a lot of evidence. The evidence is very clear.
It was laid out in the ANAO report, and I remind the House—
Honourable members interjecting—
I remind the House that the government did not demonstrate—
I remind the House that the government was not able to demonstrate that the CDC program was meeting its intended objectives. That is from the ANAO report. But I continued reading the ANAO report and I found some other interesting information, in table 1.2. It is that in 2020 the former government reduced the objectives of the act. It actually references violence and harm and the reduction in trial sites. That was point b). It actually removed that from the objectives. So, in the new objectives, there was no reference to trying to determine whether violence or harm was reducing.
Point of order, Mr Speaker, on relevance. The question was: will the Prime Minister, or the minister in his stead, promise that there won't be more violence inflicted on women and children as a result of putting—
In 2015, the former government was then interested in whether or not the cashless debit card reduced violence or harm in the trial areas, but by 2020 they were no longer interested. Why? You might wonder. It is because they could not provide any evidence to suggest there was a reduction in harm and violence in communities. We've heard a lot from those on the other side about the University of Adelaide report, and I want to go to the part of the report that talks about safety, crime and family violence, where it said that 60 per cent of CDC participants reported that they did not feel safer since the introduction of the CDC card and 28 per cent—
that's more than one in four participants—reported their safety had reduced since the introduction of the CDC. So, if we go to the evidence and ignore the ideological rhetoric from those opposite, we see that this program did not make a difference when it came to safety and harm. Indeed, what it did for participants was make discrimination normalised in communities and stigma normalised in communities, and it had practical problems that meant that people couldn't buy a second-hand fridge, because they didn't have enough cash. It meant that families couldn't take their children to the football, because they didn't have enough cash. This has meant real problems in communities, and we are acting to fix it.