SAY NO to the cashless welfare card.
SAY NO to the cashless welfare card. Mike Knott BUN090617CASHLESS7

PROTEST: Card group renews fight

THE news that Social Services Minister Dan Tehan has renewed the push to bring the cashless card to Bundaberg and Hervey Bay has not been welcomed by everyone.

Daniel Stafford, from the Bundaberg Awareness Group, said figures being brandished about in the media painted a picture of welfare recipients that wasn't accurate.

Mr Stafford and five others from BAG held a silent protest against cashless cards during yesterday's council meeting.

The group, wearing purple shirts, had hoped to say a few words during general business but were not given the chance to re-enter the chambers after doing an interview with broadcast media.

"We really want to see the media bashing of welfare recipients stop," he said.

Recent reports that suggested almost half of the thousands of gamblers receiving government funded financial counselling were on welfare payments was problematic, according to Mr Stafford.

He wants to know what proportion of those on welfare this statistic represented and what proportion of recipients were on disability support, carers, students or underemployed.

Mr Stafford, who has been reliant on welfare payments from time to time in the past, said the card would hurt those already doing it tough and make it even harder for them to be involved in the community.

He understands the cycle having lived on the streets and overcoming a methamphetamine addiction in his early 20s.

While Mr Stafford is now working, he said employment opportunities in the region were limited.

He would like to see the money being spent on trialling the cards used to help people get jobs.

However, MP for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the Cashless Debit Card was never off the table for Hinkler.

"I have not given up on the fight to see the card rolled out in Hinkler. We can't expect to get a different outcome if nothing changes. I'm for change, as are the majority of people in the Hinkler electorate," he said.

"Anything which sees welfare payments being used on essentials - food, clothing and rent - for families and children has to be better than the alternative.

"The need for this card has not suddenly gone away. We still have children missing out on the necessities of life and welfare payments being misused.

"I urge Labor and the Senate crossbench to reconsider their stance on this card."

Queensland Greens Senator Andrew Bartlett said the people of Bundaberg would be worse off with the card.

"It's hard enough getting by on the disability pension or Newstart. Quarantining most of people's entitlements will only make their lives more stressful and difficult, it won't help them," Mr Bartlett said.


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