CARD COMES CLOSER: Business leaders and activists in the Hervey Bay community have shared their thoughts on the latest finding from the Senate Committee on the cashless welfare card.
CARD COMES CLOSER: Business leaders and activists in the Hervey Bay community have shared their thoughts on the latest finding from the Senate Committee on the cashless welfare card. Amanda Coop

Cashless card roll-out one step closer in Hervey Bay

THE controversial cashless debit card is one step closer to being rolled out in Hervey Bay, but local activists and business leaders aren't sold on its benefits.

It comes after a Senate committee handed down their report, recommending the trial of the card be expanded to the Hinkler region.

The news is particularly devastating for Fraser Coast woman Kathryn Wilkes, who has spearheaded the fight against the card since it was first proposed for the region last year.

Ms Wilkes said she felt like those against the card were being ignored.

"It will be a real shame if the card comes to the region. We need services, investments in the community and people, not investment in a private company," Ms Wilkes said.

"We all thought they'd vote that way, the people on the committee are not listening, they've got so many organisations standing up against it (the card), and they're all being ignored."

The announcement has also drawn concern from the business community, with Maryborough Chamber of Commerce president Lance Stone claiming it could impact small business' reliance on cash.

"I don't see it as being detrimental to business, as those on social security are on the lowest form of income," Mr Stone said. "But what does create an issue is the lack of spend, because it's tied into the approval of cards and transactions.

"I would rather see the money go to job-creation programs that empower people to get a job... employment is the only way we will break the cycle."

But Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook said people were likely to see a "positive reform of the social and economic areas of the community" from the card's introduction.

"The business community will welcome adoption of the card, as it removes the ability of people to continue the cash economy," Ms Holebrook said.

The Senate is expected to vote on the card next week.



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