Senate debates

Wednesday, 9 December 2020


Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Continuation of Cashless Welfare) Bill 2020; Second Reading

11:39 am

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | Hansard source

This lines up with one of my personal platforms in all my dealings with welfare recipients, including those who are Indigenous Australians. The Cape York Welfare Reform aims to address dependence on welfare and support people in the communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge to resume primary responsibility for the wellbeing of their families and communities. The control mechanisms also mean that the welfare funds cannot be directly spent on alcohol, pornography, tobacco products, gambling, home-brew systems and ingredients, or gift cards that could be swapped with others in exchange for cash, credit or goods. The goal is for the sordid symptoms of such purchases to also then be reduced, like alcohol abuse; domestic violence, including abuse of children; drug purchases and drug use; hunger; and poverty.

The cashless debit card has been trialled in four places around Australia. Firstly, from mid-2016, it was trialled in the Ceduna region of South Australia and in Kununurra and Wyndham, in the East Kimberley. In 2017, an evaluation report from Orima Research found that the cards had considerably positive impacts in the two trial communities: 41 per cent of the participants who drank alcohol reported drinking alcohol less frequently, 37 per cent of participants who were binge drinking reported binge drinking less frequently, 48 per cent reported gambling less and 48 per cent reported using illegal drugs less often.

The evaluation also found many related benefits. For example, 40 per cent of those surveyed said they were better able to look after their children and 45 per cent said they had been better able to save money. Feedback from the communities revealed a decrease in requests for emergency food relief and financial assistance in Ceduna. These are the reports that have come back, and they contain the percentages I have just read out. But, if you listen to others in the Senate, the cards haven't had any impact whatsoever. These reports clearly show that it has. There have been increased purchases of baby items, food, clothing, shoes, toys and other goods for children. Community leaders reported a reduction in crime, violence and harmful behaviours during the trial period.

It was rolled out in the Goldfields region of Western Australia from March 2018 and has been on trial in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland, where it has the additional restriction of applying only to those 35 and under. Welfare recipients are given the chance to opt in to this system and many choose to do this because they recognise the benefits of enforcing more focused spending of the money. Those on age and veterans affairs pensions can apply for voluntary inclusion in this scheme.

I have spoken before about humbugging, a term used in Aboriginal communities. It's where a family member insists that they hand over money to them. That's why they are quite happy to be on the card. They can say: 'I can't give you money. I haven't got it.' (Quorum formed) Humbugging is in these communities. They know that family members are taking money from them.

I want to turn to something here. We're talking about the cashless debit card. I can't let go what Senator Thorpe said earlier in this chamber. She commented that it's her land. I remember her comment to me yesterday. We were talking about the Indigenous community. They have raised that this is racist legislation. It's not, because it's not just directed at Aboriginals. She said it's her land. No, it's the land of everyone who was born here.


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