FOCUS ON BUNDY: Labor leader Bill Shorten at Bundaberg Hospital yesterday.
FOCUS ON BUNDY: Labor leader Bill Shorten at Bundaberg Hospital yesterday. Mike Knott BUN210119LAB6

Cashless card to be scrapped under Labor

THE Cashless Debit Card will be rolled back in Hinkler if Labor wins the next federal election.

The announcement comes after Opposition leader Bill Shorten rolled into Bundaberg yesterday, as part of his Queensland Jobs Not Cuts bus tour.

Mr Shorten said if he was elected as the next prime minister of Australia, it was his "intention to roll the card back".

"It mightn't be possible to unscramble all parts of the egg if they've (the current Federal Government) got some costs on IT or some costs on Canberra bureaucrats to help administer the system," he told media yesterday.

"We can't necessarily save all the money they've spent but it is our intention to roll it back."

Mr Shorten admitted if Labor was elected he wouldn't be able to save the money that might have already been spent on the cashless card, but said he would work with the community to roll it back and come up with better solutions that "actually help people that are down on their luck at the bottom of the cycle and lift them back up and get them back into work".

"This government (the current Federal Government) is proposing to spend $13.5million to save some money, it doesn't stack up," he said.

"They've prematurely rushed it in terms of not waiting to see a full review of how it would work.

"I think, and the experts tell me, that there are much better ways to use important taxpayer money to help people engage and get back into work and deal with challenges of addiction than this particular system (the cashless card roll out)."

Mr Shorten visited Bundaberg Hospital yesterday and met with a number of Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services staff.

During his stop-over, he acknowledged the fantastic work being done at the local hospital but said the Wide Bay region was "crying out" for more mental health resources.

The statement comes after Mr Shorten promised to "find $15.7 million", if elected at the next federal election, for a new community mental health facility in Bundy.

The funds would also go toward the stigma attached to mental health, a small increase in acute beds at Bundaberg Hospital and mental health resources.

"Every Queenslander deserves this sort of care ... it's long overdue. Mental health is just as important as any other field," Mr Shorten said.

The Opposition leader said he would deliver on the promise, if elected, even if the party's state members in the region weren't elected.

"We will find scarce money in the budget to work to improve health funding in the state," he said.

"Only a Labor government nationally can be trusted not to cut healthcare and funding."

Mr Shorten said walking through Bundaberg Hospital, it was obvious the facility was "of old bones" and needed an upgrade as well.

The comment comes after WBHHS announced the business case for a Level 5 hospital in Bundaberg was on track.

"There's no doubt that change needs to happen (here) ... and Federal Labor will be a very good ally of Queenslanders (in the pursuit for a new or refurbished facility)," he said.



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