Constituency Statement – Cashless Debit Card
Mr PITT: I rise to discuss with the House the cashless debit card rollout trial for my electorate of Hinkler and, once again, the activities of the Greens. This legislation was passed through both the House and the Senate, and the trial will commence in my electorate, between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, in the New Year. It will affect some 6,000 people. And yet here we have Senators Waters and Siewert once again looking to create trouble. Right through this process we have had nothing from them but misinformation, scaremongering and fear. Now they want to continue that, even though the legislation has been through the House and the Senate and it will be implemented. So I say to the Greens: actually get on side with something that works. They should listen to Nicole. Nicole gave a presentation to the Minderoo forum in Western Australia in recent weeks. To use her own words, when she found that she was being put on the card in a trial in the Goldfields, she ‘hated’ the government, she ‘hated’ the local MP, Rick Wilson. But she is now one of the card’s greatest advocates in her community, because, for her, it made a substantial difference to her life. That is why we are doing this.
It is a tough policy. I’ve said it many times before. Once again I say to Senators Larissa Waters and Rachel Siewert: stop trying to cause trouble and actually get up there and provide information. If the people in my electorate want the correct information, it will come from the Department of Social Services. They have already received correspondence from them. There have been many levels of consultation. There have been more meetings in recent weeks. They have been on the ground for over a year. The Department of Social Services is the source of facts, not misinformation and scaremongering, which is all we seem to get from the Greens, in particular. There were public meetings in November, and correspondence has gone to every single individual who will be in the cohort. It is a different cohort to the other trial sites, so the Greens need to stop saying to people that they are included when they are not. It will be applied to those who are 35 and under if they are on Newstart, the parenting payment single, the parenting payment partnered or youth allowance other.
This is about trying to ensure that the money they are provided from the taxpayer in their time of need is not spent on alcohol, gambling or, potentially, illicit substances. It does that by controlling the amount of cash that is available—and it works. There have been trials in WA in place for over two years. We heard from community leaders in those areas who said that it is one of the greatest things they’ve ever done for their community. In fact, one of the quotes from one of the Aboriginal community leaders in WA, at the Minderoo forum, was: ‘Was it very difficult? Was it tough? It was absolutely tough. It was really, really difficult. Would we do it again if we had to? Yes, we would’—because it has made such a difference to their community. I look forward to the same changes in the electorate of Hinkler