Monday, 19 June 2017
Cashless Welfare Card Trial Sites
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) two extra trial sites of the cashless welfare card were funded in the 2017-18 Budget,
(ii) the locations being considered to date for these additional trial sites are Port Hedland, East Pilbara, Kalgoorlie, Laverton, Leonora, Broome, Redlands, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast and somewhere in Tasmania, and
(iii) the Government has claimed to be consulting with the community in these areas but has not consulted with those who will be directly affected by the card;
(b) acknowledges that evaluations of the NT Intervention, including compulsory income management, show it met none of its objectives; and
(c) calls on the Government to abandon the additional two trial sites and halt further expansion of the current cashless welfare card sites.
Labor cannot support this motion today. Federal Labor will take a community-by- community approach to further trials of the cashless debit card. We support community-driven initiatives designed to tackle alcohol abuse. Any proposal for the cashless debit card to be rolled out in a particular community must be driven and supported by that local community. Labor understands that the vast majority of social security recipients are more than capable of managing their personal finances. That is why we do not support the cashless debit card being rolled out nationwide. However, where individual communities believe that the cashless debit card can make a positive difference, we will discuss it with them. If the community does not want it, then Labor will not support the card being imposed on that community.
We understand that this is a difficult and sometimes emotive issue for people. Labor did offer support for the cashless debit card trials in both Ceduna and Kununurra. We listened to the people in Ceduna and Kununurra and heard that they are desperate for action to tackle these issues in their community. Community leaders in both locations offered their support for the cashless debit card trial, so we take a realistic and pragmatic approach to this issue.