Leanne Donaldson.
Leanne Donaldson. Craig Warhurst

Donaldson fights back over card claims

QUEENSLAND LNP senator Barry O'Sullivan has called on Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson to provide specific evidence to support her claims of a lack of community consultation regarding the introduction of the cashless debit card.

Senator O'Sullivan said if she, and Queensland Labor senator Murray Watt - who supported Ms Donaldson's claims on a visit to Bundaberg last week - could not provide specific evidence, they must apologise to the people of Bundaberg for playing political games over a policy that aimed to improve the welfare of the Wide Bay communities.

Ms Donaldson upheld her previous statements that federal Human Services Minister Alan Tudge and Hinkler MP Keith Pitt had kept her in the dark regarding the roll-out of the controversial card in Bundaberg.

She said so-called community consultations were also selective and secretive.

Senator O'Sullivan said he was frustrated to get involved in such a ridiculous political argument.

"But in recent days I have watched in disbelief as Ms Donaldson and Senator Watt have attempted to score cheap political points about a policy that simply aims to ensure young people on welfare spend their money on the necessities of life and not on alcohol and gambling,” Senator O'Sullivan said.

Ms Donaldson said it was an odd statement to make from a Toowoomba-based senator in Canberra to claim she was the one playing politics.

"If Senator O'Sullivan could be bothered coming to Bundaberg and actually talk to the community and not the hand-picked, closed-door consultations that were run, he would understand the issue locally,” Ms Donaldson said.

Senator O'Sullivan said the Federal Government went to great lengths to ensure there was strong community support for the cashless debit card before any decision was made to introduce the card into a region.

"Two years ago, Minister Tudge cancelled plans to introduce the cashless debit card in the Mudgee region in Northern NSW because it did not gain sufficient support from community leaders and welfare groups,” he said.

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