Senate debates

Thursday, 23 August 2018


Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018; Second Reading

9:51 am

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today to add my support to the previous comments already made so eloquently by my colleagues here in this place on the Greens' crossbench, which is, of course, led by Senator Siewert, who has been a tireless advocate against these nasty initiatives that force some of the country's most vulnerable people into further poverty. The Greens have opposed the cashless debit card since its inception. We've submitted dissenting reports on the various pieces of legislation, including the debt card trial in 2015. We expressed deep concerns regarding compulsory income management and recommended that the bill not pass. We have always been opposed to the introduction of this scheme. The idea that it be expanded is just abhorrent.

We subsequently submitted dissenting a report on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, highlighting that the flaws of the so-called independent evaluation of the first two trial sites, undertaken by ORIMA, that was being relied on as the justification for the expansion of the card to the Goldfields, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay regions. That was just a flawed process—flawed data and flawed justification—and the Greens said so at the time. The 2017 bill did not pass the Senate in its original form allowing only the Goldfields area trial to commence, which is why we are here again today debating whether or not this card should be expanded. We are absolutely opposed to the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018. We are very concerned that some of the most vulnerable Australians are used as whipping bags for a nasty government agenda.

As I stand here today, we've just heard that the Prime Minister has lost the support of key members of his front bench in exchange for the nasty politics and agenda of Mr Peter Dutton. I think it is an incredibly dark day for the nation that we are about to see a sitting Prime Minister rolled to put in place somebody whose politics are ugly, nasty and have a history of pushing down the most vulnerable and being race baiting. This is a man who walked out of the apology to the stolen generation. This is a man who gloats over the imprisonment of young children on Nauru. This is a man who does not believe in the biggest threat to the world right now—that, of course, is global warming and climate change. He is singing and dancing to the tune of Mr Tony Abbott—a prime minister who was roundly opposed by the Australian people only a short number of months after being elected Prime Minister because of these nasty policies, such as those we are debating in this place today.

The Greens will oppose this bill all the way through and all the way down the line. We will oppose it, whether it is under this government or under a Dutton government. This bill is absolutely appalling. I can't say strongly enough how opposed to this piece of legislation and this nasty politics the Greens are.


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