By Shane Jones
A Federal Government led by Labor after the next election would end the Cashless Card, which is currently being used in Bundaberg.
The Leader of the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese, has come out to say he will end the card if his party is voted in at the next election.
The next election could be held later this year or early next year before May.
The cashless card, implemented in 2018, sees hundreds of people have their welfare payments put on a card, 80 percent, which aims to prevent them from spending it on things like alcohol and gambling.
People on welfare can only use that card to buy products and services at approved sellers, with the aim being to prevent it being spent on the wrong things.
Speaking to radio following his parties Budget Reply, which was done last week, Mr Albanese when asked about the card stated the Cashless Card would end if Labor returned to power federally for the first time since 2013.
“Absolutely,” Mr Albanese told Sydney radio station 2SM.
“We think there’s a role if communities are requesting a government-run system in terms of cashless welfare.
“So I don’t want to say that it never has a role because it did have a role.
“But the idea of a privatised organisation running the welfare system like this and doing it in a way in which they have an interest in its expansion, that’s the thing.
“They introduced the profit motive above what is the public interest. It’s the public interest that’s got to count here.
“And under Labor, that is precisely what we would do (end it).”
The Labor leader argued it doesn’t work for the community.
Currently, the Hinkler electorate, which Bundaberg is in, is one of a few places with the card.
Ceduna in South Australia, Cape York in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Kununurra, Wyndham and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia also have the card used.
“We opposed to it because it doesn’t work,” Mr Albanese said.
“And all of the Government’s own studies and reports showed that it doesn’t work.
“There was a South Australian Senator went into the Northern Territory to conduct his own investigation and was able to buy grog with it, Rex Patrick.
“The truth is that for some communities, unlimited cashless card assists some communities, particularly women, in remote communities who requested it, effectively, and wanted this to happen for their communities so that they were making sure that they were buying essentials for themselves and their kids. “But this expansion is all about ideology, rather than common sense.
“And for a political party that says it cares about individualism and of the rights of the individual, to seek to impose this on more and more people, just defies its own evidence.”
Federal Member for Hinkler, Keith Pitt, has refuted Mr Albanese’s claims, saying it does work from his findings.
“What’s very clear is Labor’s position is to do nothing,” Mr Pitt said.
“If the Cashless Debit Card was stopped, it would mean no way to support kids who are missing out on the essentials of life, and no way to try and ensure that the support provided by the taxpayer is not wasted on gambling or alcohol.
“The Cashless Debit Card has been strongly supported, right across the electorate, it’s made a real difference, we intend for it to continue, the Labor Party and each-way Albanese is looking to cancel it.
“Everything I’ve seen locally is very supportive, we know that the Cashless Debit Card works, we know that it makes a difference, we know that it supports people who find themselves in difficult circumstances.
“That’s the feedback we’ve got from any number of frontline service providers.”
Pitt conceded the card isn’t perfect but any alternative to it, is not better right now.
“It’s a tool in the toolkit, we’ve never claimed it’s a silver bullet solution to the challenges we have, but it makes a difference across our region and that’s why I’ve been so supportive,” he said.
“The Cashless Debit Card is a real change in terms of the level of technology, provided and is substantially different to the Basics Card, it is far more advanced and far better supported.
“Anthony Albanese is out there saying no way, no way to doing things that work.”
“This is about actually doing something, each-way Albanese, his solution is to do nothing.”