Monday, 26 September 2022
Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Repeal of Cashless Debit Card and Other Measures) Bill 2022; Second Reading
The Labor Party have clearly shown us that they're not ready for government. And we all knew that. They've shown, in their short time in government, that all they can do is make grandiose statements that sound nice on social media but do not actually make one bit of difference in people's lives. We saw this recently. During the entirety of the 46th Parliament they harped on about integrity, and, within the first couple of months of government, they've had multiple ministers breach their ministerial code of conduct. I'm amazed there's not one in here tonight! And how did the PM deal with this breach of ministerial standards? Nothing—he didn't do anything to deal with it. He simply swept it under the carpet.
Here we're seeing this pattern—of making statements but acting in another way—again, with the repeal of the cashless debit card. Despite all their talk about caring for our First Nations people, we see that this is all hollow, with the legislation now before us. The Albanese government's decision to abolish the cashless debit card has given the green light to more grog, drug abuse and violence in some of our most vulnerable communities, without ever studying any social impact of what might come out of this—without any evidence.
You talk about the ANAO report, which clearly says that they can't tell whether it worked or not because of the wraparound services that you were just alleging weren't provided. Now you're going to have to spend even more on those, because you can't even help people manage their own lives. It's all about grandiose statements.
This was an innovative program, designed to tackle social harm—something the Labor Party should give a damn about. It was particularly associated with the harms around drug and alcohol addiction in communities with high rates of long-term social security dependence—not random communities here and there, not 'from my day or two in Hinkler', not 'from my little junket here and there', but based on evidence.
As my friend and colleague sitting next to me, Senator Liddle, has pointed out so rightly on numerous occasions in this chamber, the cashless debit card is an important tool in the mix of the solutions.