Labor will scrap the cashless welfare card - Speech to Parliament

22 November 2021

Speech in Federation Chamber

22 November 2021

Watch the speech here

Today I want to raise the issue that is worrying many people in my electorate—that is, the Morrison government's plan to put pensioners on a cashless debit card.

I can hear protests from the other side saying: 'This is a Labor scare campaign. We don't want to put pensioners on the card. Labor is making it all up.' I would like to say that I do not believe that Labor is making this all up, and there is evidence to prove it.

We are not making it up. They do have a plan to force pensioners onto a cashless debit card. There is evidence. Labor will fight the cashless welfare card for pensioners. Labor will scrap the cashless welfare card.

Labor will not let pensioners have 80 per cent of their money put on a card so the government can say how they can spend it.

This is not an ordinary bank debit card; it's a privatised, cashless card that can be used only in shops that the government approves. You may even have to use a special payment method—a special cash register, if you like—for this card.

As we know, this card is already being used in communities across Queensland and in South Australia, WA and the Northern Territory. I've met with people using this card. It was supposed to help communities but, largely, the card has failed these communities terribly.

It has cost a fortune—it's up to $80 million now—there have been incredible stuff-ups, such as people's rent not going through, and it has lined the pockets of the government's mates, Indue.

The government has forced pensioners onto this card, saying, 'We don't trust you with your money.' That's what the government is really saying to people with this card: 'We don't trust you to spend your money the way you want to.' How humiliating! How degrading!

Let me tell you, Mr Deputy Speaker, most pensioners I know know where every cent goes, because they have to. When pensioners are paying between $2 and $5 for an iceberg lettuce—let me tell you—they know. They study the specials guide at the supermarket because they make every cent go all the way. And all for what? This card won't help them one bit, just like this government hasn't helped pensioners one little bit.

The vast majority of pensioners have served this country and have paid their taxes, and now they're being told how to spend their money. It isn't good enough.

If the government was really worried about these communities, it would improve their health by boosting Medicare. It would create jobs. It would create education and business opportunities. It would create apprenticeships. It would get to the root causes of the problems.

But, no, its answer is just to control people and their spending.