Feb 2018

Cashless cards to solve substance abuse, violence and gambling

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08 February 2018: KAP Federal Leader and Member for Kennedy Hon Bob Katter MP, spoke in Parliament on Tuesday, pushing the expansion of the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017 which is proven to help curb the growing number of alcohol abuse, gambling, illegal drugs and violence in communities.

The Bill proposes that working welfare recipients are paid 80 per cent of their welfare on a cashless debit card which can be used to make all purchases except those that are alcohol or gambling related. The other 20 per cent is deposited into a standard bank account and is available to be withdrawn as cash.

The card system is currently operating in only two communities with no more than 10,000 participants. Mr Katter is urging it goes further than these communities stating it beggars belief if anyone were to oppose it given the successful results from the trial run in backing the initiative, Mr Katter made note of the past dismal failings of Indigenous Affairs policies in Australia, which shows that the current ‘business as usual’ is not delivering outcomes to First Australian communities.

“When this brilliant ban on alcohol (in Qld Indigenous communities) occurred, what happened was that all the alcoholics moved into Townsville, Mount Isa, Alice Springs, Darwin, Cairns or Mareeba—all the no-hoper crowd.

“So what happened in Townsville is that Townsville now has the highest crime rate in Australia and the highest unemployment rate in Australia. That was imposed by the brainless B-A-S-T-A-R-Ds who imposed the ban on alcohol.

“The suicide rates in these communities, once again, are the highest in the world. You measure a nation by the way it treats its poorest people and its most downtrodden people. If we're being judged by that then we are judged abominably and we must stand as a pariah amongst nations.

“Diabetes are at epidemic levels, they banned market gardens in the Torres Straits – a way to get cheap, fresh fruit and vegetables.

“No-one seems to feel ashamed. No-one has any sense of shame.”

“This Cashless Debit Card is a great system created by Andrew (Twiggy) Forrest, it was one of 27 recommendations in Twiggy’s ‘Creating Parity’ report - and it is now proven to work,” Mr Katter said.

“To be specific, a trial period was conducted in Ceduna, SA and East Kimberly, WA with promising results including 25 per cent of participants and 13 per cent of family members reported drinking alcohol less frequently, 25 per cent reported engaging in binge drinking less frequently, 32 per cent of participants and 15 per cent of family members reported gambling less, 24 per cent reported using illegal drugs less often and 31 per cent said they were better able to look after their children.

“It’s not aimed at all welfare recipients, the payment amount remains the same and the cashless debit card only applies to those on working aged benefits, not aged or veteran pensions,” Mr Katter said.

Mr Katter has a personal link to the issues affecting these communities stemming from when he was a child, along with Mr Forrest who stands by his word and supports the community in every way he can - rather than throwing around ideas that produce no results, like prohibition, “I speak in praise of Andrew Forrest, he is very patriotic. He went to a school that was predominantly First Australian, I went to school that was about 40 per cent First Australian. You can't go to school with kids and play football with them and not end up being mates. I have no doubt about his sincerity on this issue, a very controversial issue, it's brought him a lot of criticism, but he believes in it. He's the only employer in Australia that I know that employs 600 people of First Australian descent,” Mr Katter said.

The new locations for the cashless debit card will be selected based on community readiness and willingness, high levels of disadvantage and welfare dependence, and high levels of social harm driven by alcohol, drugs and gambling. Priority will be given to communities with lower Indigenous populations than the existing sites.

Contact Details

P: (07) 4061 6066
F: (07) 4061 6566
Visit: Cnr Edith and Owen St
Post: PO Box 1638
Innisfail, Qld 4860

Mount Isa
P: (07) 4743 3534
F: (07) 4743 0189
Visit: 42-44 Simpson St
Post: PO Box 2130
Mount Isa, Qld 4825

(when Parliament is sitting)
P: (02) 6277 4978
F: (02) 6277 8558

Local Call within the electorate
P: 1300 301 942

Email: Bob.Katter.MP@aph.gov.au