COMMUNITY APPROACH: Jenny Macklin says Labor will listen to the local community in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay about whether they would like see the card introduced.
COMMUNITY APPROACH: Jenny Macklin says Labor will listen to the local community in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay about whether they would like see the card introduced. Geordi McDougall

Not so fast on Cashless Debit Card, says Opposition

KEITH Pitt and the Coalition shouldn't count on Labor's support for the roll-out of the cashless debit card in Hinkler just yet.

Speaking to the Chronicle last week, Hinkler MP Mr Pitt had lamented that state Labor MPs and candidates had publicly criticised the income management scheme.

"We've seen bipartisan support from the Opposition, from everyone apart from the Greens,” he said.

But Opposition families and social services spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said federal Labor, which supported trials in Ceduna and East Kimberley, was not yet signed on as a supporter of the Hinkler roll-out.

"Federal Labor has consistently said that we will take a community-by-community approach to the further rollout of the cashless debit card,” Ms Macklin said.

"Labor will listen to the local community in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay about whether they would like to participate in the trial,” she said.

"If a community doesn't want it, then we won't support the card being imposed on that community.”

Ms Macklin said the scheme wouldn't work if there wasn't "buy-in” from the community.

"There can't be a top-down approach - the community has to be involved right from the outset,” she said.

"The government can't rely exclusively on its flawed evaluation to continue rolling out trials of this card.

"If the government is going to spend large amounts of taxpayers' money on this card, then we need to be sure that it can actually make a significant contribution to outcomes.”

Ms Macklin said young people in Hinkler needed jobs more than anything.

"The number one objective needs to be helping young local people get a job,” she said.

"This card doesn't deliver one extra job to young people in Bundaberg or Hervey Bay.”

It turns out Mr Pitt may not have the community support he's spruiked since Hinkler was announced as a cashless debit card site.

More than 85% of respondents in a Chronicle poll said they did not support the card's introduction, with only 13% saying they did.

A NewsMail poll in May produced a similar result, with 86% against and 17% for.



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