Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett.
Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett. TAHLIA STEHBENS

Bundy politicians make major welfare card announcement

MEMBER for Bundaberg David Batt, Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett and Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen have announced their support of Hinkler MP Keith Pitt's calls for a trial of a Cashless Debit Card in Bundaberg.

The Cashless Debit Card in the Federal electorate of Hinkler would apply to people aged 35 years and under on unemployment benefits or parenting payments, with 80 percent of their payments placed onto the card.

Member for Bundaberg David Batt, who was born in Bundaberg and was a police officer for 23 years, said he had seen state and federal governments - from all sides of politics - try and fail to address the region's historically high unemployment rate.

Member for Bundaberg David Batt.
Member for Bundaberg David Batt. TAHLIA STEHBENS

"We owe it to current and future generations to at least give the CDC a go," Mr Batt said.

"Through my work in child protection and the Police Citizens Youth Club, I have a very real understanding of the impact drugs, alcohol and gambling have on our community. And so, when the CDC was first suggested for our region, I sought assurances from Mr Pitt that the program would be accompanied by additional support services.

"I want to help people in our community be the very best they can be. There is no doubt that a new approach is desperately needed, and I hope the CDC will have the same positive impact here that it's reportedly had in other trial sites."    

An independent evaluation of the trial sites by Orima found 41 percent of drinkers reported drinking less and 37 percent binge drinking less; 48 per cent of gamblers reported gambling less; and 48 percent of drug takers reported using illegal drugs less often. The report also found that 40 percent of participants who had caring responsibility reported that they had been better able to care for their children (up from 31 percent at Wave 1).

 

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt and Social Services Minister Dan Tehan discussing the Cashless Debit Card.
Hinkler MP Keith Pitt and Social Services Minister Dan Tehan discussing the Cashless Debit Card. Jim Alouat

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said it was time to try something different to bring about change.

"At the end of the day, we all want what is in the best interests of our community to improve the lives of children and their families," Mr Bennett said.

"We can't afford to sit back and do nothing... You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first.

"What we are hearing from those entrusted in the role of providing social services to those most vulnerable in the community is that these measures do work. 

"The trial has the backing of local businesses, and if they are willing to give it a go then the least we can do is support them."

Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen said people with hungry children had visited his office looking for help.

"The card quarantines 80 percent of a person's welfare payment, which means it will be used what it's meant for: food, clothing and paying bills," Mr Sorensen said.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said he would continue to fight for the Cashless Debit Card to be rolled out in the electorate.

"There is strong support for the Cashless Debit Card from constituents - 75 percent in favour - and I stand by this figure 100 percent," Mr Pitt said.

 

Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen.
Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen. Valerie Horton


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