Keith Pitt at Burnett Heads announcing a pre-feasibility study to assess the viability of an outer harbour at the Port of Bundaberg.
Keith Pitt at Burnett Heads announcing a pre-feasibility study to assess the viability of an outer harbour at the Port of Bundaberg. Brian Cassidy

'Bourbon is not an essential': Debit card debate re-ignites

HINKLER MP Keith Pitt has hit back at claims the Cashless Debit Card prevents welfare recipients from buying essentials at affordable prices, asking if a bottle of bourbon could be considered a necessity.

The Chronicle questioned new Labor leader Anthony Albanese regarding his views on the Cashless Debit Card and received a response from Linda Burney, the Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, confirming the party remained opposed to the program.

The ALP supported the first two trials in Ceduna in South Australia and East Kimberley in Western Australia with the aim of assessing whether the card worked or not, before taking a stance against the scheme.

Ms Burney accused the Federal Government of unrolling the Cashless Debit Card in Hervey Bay and Bundaberg despite having no proof the card "actually works".

She said there was no proof the card was addressing the issues it had been brought in to address, including keeping welfare recipients off drugs and alcohol and breaking the cycle of welfare.

"Meanwhile, we've also heard about participants on this card being prevented from purchasing essential items at more affordable prices," Ms Burney said.

"Labor supports evidence-based policy informed by community consultation."

Ms Burney said the focus should be on more jobs and better services for the Hinkler electorate.

But Mr Pitt said the scheme was working well in four sites around the country.

"Exactly what essential items are people unable to purchase?" he said.

"Does the leader of the opposition think a bottle of bourbon is an 'essential' people are missing out on?

"The Cashless Debit Card ensures that tax-payer funded welfare payments are being used on the necessities: rent, food, power bills and making sure kids have what they need for school."

Mr Pitt accused the Opposition of having no alternative solution to the issues families and children were facing concerning intergenerational welfare dependence.

"Labor didn't vote against the legislation to expand the trial into Hinkler, yet at the same time they are saying they don't support it?" he said.



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