Candidates’ cashless card thoughts

Broome Advertiser
Assistant Social Services Minister Alan Tudge, pictured with Wyndham resident and supporter of the trial Jean Oreeri.
Camera IconAssistant Social Services Minister Alan Tudge, pictured with Wyndham resident and supporter of the trial Jean Oreeri. Credit: Cally Dupe

We ask the Kimberley candidates if they support a cashless welfare card trial in Broome and other parts of the region and whether such a scheme could work as a State-imposed measure.

Labor: Josie Farrer

While this is a Federal Government issue, I personally don’t like the cashless welfare card. I’ve had plenty of feedback from East Kimberley residents who were adversely affected by the card. We will wait for the trial evaluations to take place so we can examine all the evidence from the trial sites before making a final decision on its efficiency. There needs to be a proper dialogue with the community before there is any move to expand the card.

Liberal: Warren Greatorex

Prior to the cashless card being implemented as a trial, I do understand there was extensive consultations with community leaders and government agencies including the police/courts and medical fraternity, local resource centres and community members. The trial ends in a few months time and I am aware there has been some teething problems. Once the findings are presented I will consider my view then.

Nationals: Rob Houston

I support the cashless welfare trial in the East Kimberley because it has been driven by community leaders who have been empowered to take responsibility for the future of their communities. It has yielded positive results largely because Government has been able to partner with community leaders and organisations to more effectively deliver services into communities and look at mechanisms to create social change. If elected, I would look to work with other communities in the Kimberley to explore how the introduction of the cashless welfare card might work for them. However, I do not see the cashless welfare card as a silver bullet solution but rather as part of a suite of measures that could support the improvement of livelihoods in communities. We must do everything we can to break the generational welfare cycle -the status quo is not acceptable.

Greens: Liz Vaughan

There should be no further trials of the cashless welfare card without a proper, independent evaluation of trials under way in Ceduna and the East Kimberley. Calls that have been made for a Broome trial have drawn largely on anecdotal evidence, and despite allegations that official evaluations have been ignored. While it is clear there is no simple solution to the problems faced in regional WA, evidence from the Northern Territory has shown that this kind of paternalistic income management does nothing to reduce disadvantage or address drug and alcohol abuse and it is discriminatory in its intent, and by its very nature. First and foremost the WA Greens would like to see the State Government working more closely with those experiencing extreme financial hardship by offering improved wraparound services and education to deal with drug and alcohol abuse problems.

One Nation: Keith Wright

As one of the shire councillors involved when the decision was made to trial the cashless welfare card in Kununurra just after the launch in Ceduna, I must say I was excited. In our area, certain families were prime targets to benefit from such a card. Certainly it seems that not all the families that took part in the trial realised the full benefits and hence have not been as supportive as others. But overwhelmingly, the benefits have far and away exceeded any impediment. Certainly in the infancy of the trial there were teething problems that occur in any venture that is new, and both sides, the user and the provider, were almost feeling their way. It would seem that most initial glitches have been ironed out and all seems ready for further expansion.

In an area such as diverse as the Kimberley, and a place where there is more mobility than one might expect due to distance, it is probably more workable if the entire area (Kimberley) was using the same system so I would think that the time is ripe for Kimberley wide expansion.

Independent: Kai Jones

Observation indicates substance-related problems are taking the food off the table and hurting families. Instead of telling people what they’re going to have, our governments must engage with communities to find suitable, community- driven initiatives which aim for positive outcomes through appropriate engagement.

Examples include simple concepts like community fruit and veg gardens and similar ideas to bring people together, guided by locally-trained professionals to impart appropriate knowledge and provide a sense of purpose and creativity for those who may otherwise feel a bit lost, produce quality, local fruit and veg much cheaper than the price of easily available junk food, and allow communities to develop self-sufficiency and pride in themselves, their achievements and their their communities. A means-related cashless welfare card controls income but does not provide any ability for recipients to get help with factors affecting their circumstances, nor does it provide recipients with any sense of self-worth and inspiration to break the cycle. It should only be used in the absence of any reliable, community driven method.

Independent: Graham Chapman

I would support the use of a cashless welfare card in the Kimberley and would also support the introduction to the remainder of the State. Our electorate has one of the highest crime rates in the State per capita and it has continued to increase over the past four years. Domestic violence is largely fuelled by alcohol and drugs and together we need to action it because it’s out of control. It’s not the be all and end all system to combat the biggest issue in our community, but it’s a step in the right direction. We are not alone when it comes to drugs and alcohol issues in our state and know it would benefit other areas like the southwest which is currently combating meth issues at present.If elected, my first order of business will be to meet with the Kimberley Development Commission, traditional owners and representatives from different sectors of our community, to introduce the cashless card and other measures to develop strategies to combat the biggest issue in our electorate, alcohol and drugs.

Flux Party: Ryan Albrey

Whether I would support this idea or not doesn’t matter; I don’t think the voters will support this. I will be working hard in my first term to have everybody, including those that rely on welfare, using the Flux system to have a say in government decision making. I don’t think they would support this and I think they would use the Flux smartphone app to say no. If you want to talk about thoughtful, strategic measures around the sale of alcohol, junk food and books, that is another matter. I imagine there are measures that could be taken that show respect for the interests of all stakeholders and reduce harm. The people of the Kimberley can create their own solutions to these problems. My role is just to take it to parliament and present those ideas to the government.

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