Thursday, 28 July 2022
Questions without Notice
Pensions and Benefits
Thank you, Madam President. My question is to Senator Farrell, the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. The sites of the current CDC income support programs were put in place at the request of the communities in which they operate. Can the minister advise which of these communities and their community leaders were consulted by the minister prior to the Labor Party making the decision to scrap the cashless debit card, and which of these leaders and communities supported that decision?
I thank the senator for her question and note that it is her first question. Good luck for your time here in the Senate.
This is an issue that the government has been dealing with—in particular, the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth. Of course, legislation was introduced into the parliament, the lower house, this week to end the process of the cashless debit card.
You've interjected, Senator Lambie, and I'm trying to answer the question as you've interjected. I'm personally aware of a number of visits that Minister Rishworth made to these communities. I can tell you that Minister Rishworth visited Ceduna in South Australia, and she talked to the community there about these issues—
Madam President, on a point of order on relevance: the question was very specific—about the consultations that took place before the decision was made. I would ask the senator to make sure when he is responding to that question that he doesn't mislead the Senate, because I believe he may be referring to consultations or engagements that occurred after the decision was made.
Will the government guarantee that the rates of crime, including domestic violence, child neglect, and alcohol and drug fuelled violence, will not increase after the removal of this important social support program?
I thank the senator for her question. There obviously are serious issues in a range of communities in this country, but what we know from the evidence of the 17,000 or so people who were on the cashless debit card is that it wasn't solving the problems that it was alleged would be fixed by this cashless debit card. Labor could not have been clearer. The Labor Party could not have been clearer about what its policy was in the lead-up to the last election. We made—
President, a point of order on direct relevance: the question wasn't asking what the government's policy was prior to the election. The question was specifically about the consequences of the legislation the government has introduced to abolish the cashless debit card and specifically asking the minister whether or not the government can give a guarantee that the rates of crime, domestic violence, child neglect et cetera will not increase.
Senator Birmingham, as you are aware, I can't direct a minister to answer a question. Certainly, Minister Farrell did talk about the evidence and proof and so on, so he was, in my view, being relevant to the question. I ask Minister Farrell to continue.