Women and children ‘will die’ unless welfare recipients’ spending is restricted: MP Tony Pasin
The Murraylands' federal MP has heavily criticised the end of a cashless debit card trial.
If welfare is your main form of income, should the government determine how you spend your money, and stop you from carrying cash, buying alcohol or gambling?
It certainly should, the Murraylands’ federal MP, Tony Pasin, says.
The new federal government recently announced plans to end trials of a cashless debit card which had been used to restrict welfare recipients’ spending in some parts of Australia.
Mr Pasin, who had called for the trial to be extended to Murray Bridge, was furious.
“Women will die as a result of (this), children will die because of (this), women and children will be sexually abused,” he said in parliament last Tuesday.
“The consequences … will be bruises on the faces and the arms of people who would otherwise have avoided being impacted by the rivers of grog that will flow back into these communities.”
It was easier for people to spend their money on drugs if they had access to cash, the former criminal defence lawyer said, somewhat echoing remarks made by Liberal Senator Anne Ruston in Murray Bridge several years ago.
“Drug dealers deal in cash,” Mr Pasin said.
“If you give people who have a penchant for illicit substances access to cash, then the money goes off the grocery bill and towards those drugs.”
However, a recent audit by the Australian National Audit Office found that the cashless debit card program had not been proven to reduce spending on drugs, alcohol and gambling; help participants budget; or encourage socially responsible behaviour.
After the recent federal election, Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth’s first announcement was that the new government would abolish the card.
“The former Coalition government spent more than $170 million on the privatised cashless debit card, money that could have been spent on services locals need,” she said.
The card was trialled in mostly remote locations around Australia, including at Ceduna.
Other forms of income management in remote areas, including the Basics Card, will continue.
More information: www.dss.gov.au.
You can help keep local stories like this one free for everyone to read. Subscribe to Murray Bridge News today and support your independent, locally owned news service, plus get access to exclusive stories you won’t find anywhere else, from just $5 a month.