'GET A JOB!' Abuse hurled at cashless card protesters
BUNDABERG residents against the cashless card were barraged with abuse yesterday as they protested the roll-out of the trial in Hinkler.
"Get a job" and "Up the cashless card" were just some of the words passing cars hurled at opponents of the cashless card on Tuesday morning.
The verbal attacks came as welfare recipients and Hinkler residents against the controversial trial protested its roll-out in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay regions outside Federal Member and champion of the card Keith Pitt's office.
Before the "silent picket in protest of the card" on Woongarra St, anti-cashless card residents gathered at yesterday's general Bundaberg Regional Council meeting.
Anne Jackson, 59, said while she herself wasn't going onto the welfare card, the idea behind the trial was "very foolish".
"I'm here to stand against the privatisation of the safety net ... I think there are much better ways we can be spending money that is going to private companies to administer the card," she told media outside council chambers.
"I think it would be a lot more sensible if that money, which the ABC has reported to be between $12,000 and $10,000 ... (was put toward) these people by increasing our social welfare net to make a liveable wage so people no longer have to live below the poverty line."
Investing in jobs, renewable energy and public transport were other alternatives to the Indue card Ms Jackson noted.
"I don't see this card creating any jobs, I see this card as a punitive measure against the poor ... It's very very wrong," she said.
Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher said the card was coming to ... (the region) in response to calls from the community.
"At more than 180 consultation meetings across the region, locals pointed to youth unemployment, young families requiring support and intergenerational welfare dependence," Mr Fletcher said.
Cashless card opponents fear this week's roll-out of the trial would raise welfare recipients' stress levels and make it harder for them to "make ends meet with the small amount of cash they have".
"It's never too late to speak up, it's never too late to use your voice, it's never too late to stand against things that are wrong in my view," Ms Jackson said.
"I'm expecting people not to be able to use the card where they want to use (it) ... I know their choice will be removed. Our safety net is something that should be provided for everyone in Australia, its an Australian right that shouldn't be fiddled with by private companies."
Mr Pitt said statistics supported anecdotal evidence that backed the need for the card and encouraged people moving onto it to use the free support services in place.
"There will be shopfronts available to help participants activate and operate their card," Mr Pitt said.
"If anyone has questions, they can phone the free Cashless Card Debit Card Hotline on 1800 252 604 or contact the card provider, Indue Ltd, for help on 1800 710 625.
"They can also visit the Indue website at www.indue.com.au/dct/."