Keith Pitt MP Federal Member for HINKLER

Constituency Statement - Cashless Debit Card

Mr PITT (Hinkler—Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment) (10:52): There has been a lot of talk in my electorate about the cashless debit card. I am unashamedly a supporter of the card, as I think it would bring positive change to my community. It is no secret that my electorate has struggled with unemployment and multigenerational welfare dependence, but if we continue to do the same thing we will continue to get the same outcome.

Change is hardly ever popular, and I acknowledge that it can be very difficult for some people to deal with, but I believe change in my electorate is absolutely necessary. It needs to happen. There are myriad misconceptions about what the cashless debit card can and cannot do, all being perpetuated on Facebook by keyboard cowards who do not live in the electorate and should not really be a part of this conversation. So I say to my constituents: if you have concerns, or you are looking for information, please call my office or visit my website, because that is where the real information is.

I would like to read some of the comments from people who support the introduction of the card and who have signed my online petition. One person said:

Bring it on. The sooner, the better. Welfare should be a temporary stop-gap. Not a lifestyle choice. Genuine welfare recipients should not be worried about this, the malingerers will though.

Another person said:

I totally support this debit card. To me you get all the necessities with it, if you need more money than go work.

Another person said:

Am so proud of the Government for at least airing this problem and offering a solution irrespective of whose idea it was! People of Australia will say that the Government is "Controlling" their lives BUT if the recipients of handouts had managed their finances properly drastic measures would not need to be enforced.

Another person said:

It has been a long time coming, and I thoroughly support it. Something had to be done.

Lastly, one person said:

I'm sick of seeing our regions children suffering from the selfishness of their parent's drug, alcohol abuse and greed. It's been going on now for too long, in plague proportions. Something needs to be done. I hope that these cards will help to make a difference in the welfare of our regions children and young people.

While I am being told that 100 students per day are being given breakfast at one of my local schools, I will keep fighting to make the lives better for individuals, their children and for their whole community that I was elected to represent.

Finally, on a different matter, I would like to give a shout-out to the local Friendly Society Private Hospital in Bundaberg, which is about to invest more than a million dollars to install a solar energy system, which will save $84,000 per year in hot-water bills. All four hot-water systems will be converted to solar hot water, using 660 evacuated tubes. The hospital recently received news of a 30 per cent increase to its $80,000 per month electricity bill, so it had to start looking for other options. The installation will provide 25 per cent of the hospital's electricity needs, and solar hot water will pay for itself in just over three years. I congratulate Alan Cooper and his team at the Friendlies for looking at ways to reinvest in their patients and in the community. However, we should be absolutely certain that the reason for this is the unaffordable and unsustainable price of electricity in Queensland, and it needs to be addressed.

Authorised by Keith Pitt, Federal Member for Hinkler, 41b Woongarra Street, Bundaberg QLD 4670

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