Push for cashless trial to amp up

Glenn Cordingley and Peter de KruijffBroome Advertiser
As part of the Australian Government's cashless Debit Card Trial, people who receive certain Centrelink payments will have part of their money paid into an account that has restrictions in place to prevent the purchase of alcohol, participation in gambling activities or withdrawal of cash.
Camera IconAs part of the Australian Government's cashless Debit Card Trial, people who receive certain Centrelink payments will have part of their money paid into an account that has restrictions in place to prevent the purchase of alcohol, participation in gambling activities or withdrawal of cash. Credit: Supplied

A campaign to trial the cashless welfare card in Broome has been ramped up as the Federal Government prepares to extend the experiment elsewhere.

The voluntary Broome Liquor Accord and the Shire of Broome have endorsed the trial, which has been running in the East Kimberley and South Australian town of Ceduna since March and April last year.

Now the Shire of Broome is about to hit Human Services Minister Alan Tudge with a wave of paperwork backing up its original request for the card in March this year.

The voluntary Broome Liquor Accord endorsed the scheme in October last year and the council followed in March this year by agreeing to write to Mr Tudge requesting the card be trialled in town.

Shire president and BLA boss Ron Johnston said the council intended to keep lobbying the Federal minister with what he said was compelling evidence to expand the trials into Broome.

“Exhaustive consultations have occurred in Broome and the vast majority of the residents in town accept it would be a good thing to trial,” he said.

“I am going to send the minister a copy of the Shire and liquor accord motions and copies of correspondence from the Department of Social Services demonstrating an exhaustive community consultation.

“We believe we have a very justifiable case for the introduction of the card here in Broome.”

High-ranking DSS representatives have visited Broome twice in recent months to discuss a trial in Broome with council chiefs and other agencies including the police and traditional owners the Yawuru people.

The Federal Government has earmarked funding through to the middle of next year for current trials as speculation ramps up on where they will be run.

The card quarantines 80 per cent of welfare payments so it can’t be used for gambling, buying alcohol or withdrawing cash.

In March this year the Government announced it would extend current trials to June in anticipation of a final report on the first year of the scheme.

A regional budget statement from Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash last Tuesday said the trials would be funded a further year.

Such extensions would have to make it through a vote in Parliament.

The paper said two new communities would join the trial.

Although the Shire of Broome has been eager to take part, the Federal member for Durack, Melissa Price, said it was more likely a community in the Goldfields would be successful.

“The next destination for a trial site in Western Australia would most likely be somewhere in the Goldfields like Leonora, Laverton and/or Kalgoorlie,” she said.

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