Senate debates

Thursday, 17 October 2019


Anti-Poverty Week

4:33 pm

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

It's not intended to do that, Senator. I'll take that interjection. It's not intended to do that. Instead, it's quite the opposite—it's to assist them to get the necessities of life in a situation where they've got an addiction to drugs. It's to assist them to get on the pathway to employment. If they have a positive drug test and then come back a period of time later and have another one, that person's got a problem. They've got a problem and they need assistance and support. One of the ways in which we can provide that assistance and support is through a cashless debit card to make sure that they get the essentials of life. When that is married with an effective treatment program—you can't have one without the other. If you were to do that, that would be punitive. If you were to simply change their income circumstances without offering an effective treatment program, that would be punitive. But the proposition is that, if they do have that drug dependency, they are then put on a path to treatment so they can actually have the same opportunities that every person in this country deserves. That is the intention behind the policy.

We might well have differences with respect to the appropriate pathway to assist disadvantaged people in this country to realise the opportunities which everyone in this country should have, but the intention underpinning both the cashless debit card and the drug-testing trial is to assist people to manage their circumstances and put them on a pathway where they can have a better life and enjoy a better life. That is the intention, and both the results from my friend Keith Pitt, the member for Hinkler, in Queensland, and from my friend Rowan Ramsey, the member for Grey, in South Australia, are extremely positive.

In my view, we should take heed of those and we should act on those results. Personally, I'd like to see the programs rolled out across wider parts of Australia. I think they're wonderful programs. They need additional research, I'll grant you that, to look at the results, but that feedback from those two local MPs is very positive and promising, and I think it's something which the senators in this chamber should consider.


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