CASHLESS CARD: Coast leaders, protestors have their say

THE roll-out of the Cashless Debit Card is inevitable but it's leading local opponent says she's not giving up her fight.

Kathryn Wilkes, who has been a vocal critic of the card since it was first proposed last year, said yesterday her lobby group were considering their next move after the policy was passed on Tuesday.

Kathryn Wilkes opposes the rollout of the cashless card in the Hinkler electorate.
Kathryn Wilkes opposes the rollout of the cashless card in the Hinkler electorate. Amanda Coop



She dedicated countless hours to protesting and lobbying senators and still questions why the small majority of senators voted yes.

"What sort of society do we live in where the government feels it's okay to remove people's rights, legal protections, social status and security?" Ms Wilkes said.

"I feel so sad that the Australian public has been misled... there's no accountability, and the taxpayer will be picking up the bill for everything.

"It's allowing a situation to grow where it's now okay by the government's reckoning to bully people for being on social security."

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Ms Wilkes said one of her main concerns was the government "refusing to listen to people on every level" and insisted the card would create "effectively, a sub-class of citizens not protected by law".

Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour, who controversially opposed the card in a submission to the Senate on council letterhead, yesterday maintained the card was "discriminating and differentiating" people who were receiving Centrelink payments.

The Fraser Coast Regional Council Mayor, George Seymour.
The Fraser Coast Regional Council Mayor, George Seymour. Valerie Horton


"From my experience, people are best helped when you value and support them, not when you stigmatise and embarrass them," Cr Seymour said.

Recipient, Chamber President weigh in

But a candidate for the program claims the Cashless Debit Card will have an adverse affect on the social issues that affect Hervey Bay.

31-year-old Hervey Bay local Ashley McCloy, who meets the criteria for the card, yesterday claimed the card would have a negative impact on the very issues reformers aim to tackle.

Mr McCloy said people would always find a way to go around the program if they had a drug or alcohol addiction and would end up turning to more violence.

"I was originally from Melbourne and there were talks down there about the card," Mr McCloy said.

"At the end of the day, they always find a way to make their addiction fit.

"People with addictions will end up breaking into places to get what they want, or will even steal from bottle shops."

The card was proposed as a method to curb alcohol and drug addiction, as well as welfare dependency in the Hinkler region.

Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook said the business community saw the advantages for "this method of moving money through the economy."

"I don't believe in any stigma associated with the transactional side of the card in the business community, I know it will go undistinguished among many other cards," Ms Holebrook said.

"The money will be used for families to access the staple ingredients of life, and that should flow through with great economic and social benefits."

STREET TALK: Do you think the cashless welfare card should be rolled out in Hinkler?: We asked Fraser Coast locals their thoughts on the cashless welfare card rollout, after reports it had been blocked in the Senate earlier this week.