Senate debates

Monday, 12 February 2018


Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017; In Committee

9:14 pm

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Human Services) Share this | Hansard source

I must say the minister's position as outlined just doesn't make any sense. It would only make sense if there were a proper evaluation, but there has not been a proper evaluation even though the government spent $1.6 million. The evidence that we had was that the evaluation was flawed. That was the clear evidence in the Senate inquiry. So, what we are trying to do here is create a new trial end date of 30 June 2019 for both Ceduna and East Kimberley so that a proper evaluation can be made. We accept that some people are saying they want this to continue, but in our consultations in both Ceduna and East Kimberley there were many saying that this should not continue and they are opposed to it. So, our amendment creates a new trial end date; it limits the trials to only two discrete trial areas in the current locations; it opposes the removal of the limit to 10,000 participants; it specifies how people in the trial areas who are on the cashless debit card can have the proportion of their income payments on the card reduced; and it specifies the social support services that are to be delivered as part of the trial.

Every time the minister has been on her feet she has been able to tell us all of those who support the continuation of the card, but she's not been able to identify, even through the government's own consultations, those that oppose it. So, this is a sensible range of amendments that continues the existing trial for a period of 12 months; it limits the trials to the two areas; it opposes the removal of the limit to 10,000 participants; it specifies the proportion of income support payments on the cards that can be reduced; and it specifies the social support services that are to be delivered as part of the trial. We think these are sensible amendments and we would certainly hope that the crossbench and NXT would support this as a balanced approach to what we are dealing with. Don't just back the government in.

The crossbench would have more validity in backing the government in if the government could have given us any details of how the consultation in the Goldfields has taken place. They can't give us that. They can give us the names of the consultation, but can't tell us who opposed the card being introduced. So, there hasn't been an open, fair and reasonable approach on this from the government. The government, in my view, is determined to push this cashless welfare card out even wider than what is proposed in this bill. Labor will never support a national rollout of the cashless debit card. We will support it only where local communities support it. Because the minister is unable or unwilling to tell us who opposed the card and the reasons for the opposition, our estimate through our consultations is that the amendments that are before the Senate tonight are the appropriate amendments to give a balanced approach to this and to make sure that proper consultation takes place in the future.

The TEMPORARY CHAIR: Senator Cameron, could I just clarify with you that your amendment (2) has already been agreed to with the government amendments prior. Your amendment (2) reads:

2 Paragraph 124PF(1)(b)

Omit "30 June 2018", substitute "30 June 2019".

That was already voted on in the last government amendments and agreed to. I will just bring that to your attention.

That is correct, but it is a widening. We are not supporting the widening to the Goldfields.

The TEMPORARY CHAIR: Yes, fine. Just the date: that one point has been agreed to. I am saying that one of your amendments has been agreed to.

Yes, but not in the context that we want it agreed to.

The TEMPORARY CHAIR: Okay. Minister?


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