Cashless Card one step closer to becoming permanent

THE future of the Cashless Debit Card will come down to a vote in the Senate after a bill to make the initiative permanent in trial sites passed by a single vote in the House of Representatives.

The electorate of Hinkler, including Hervey Bay, is one of the trial sites for the income management program, which allows recipients to access 20 per cent of their welfare payments in cash.

The other 80 per cent is placed on an Indue card that restricts the recipient from purchasing alcohol or gambling products.

Liberal MP Bridget Archer, who expressed concerns about the cashless card in federal parliament last week, abstained from voting on the bill.

If she had voted against the bill, it would have been defeated.

Now the future of the trial sites is likely to come down to the vote of a single man, independent Senator Rex Patrick.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston took the South Australian crossbencher on a tour of the South Australian town of Ceduna on Saturday, where 12,000 people are using the cashless Indue card.

"The government hopes that this week the Senate will see the value and benefits of the cashless debit card by allowing legislation to pass," Senator Ruston said.

"It can be used almost anywhere, including online, but it just doesn't allow the purchase of alcohol­ or gambling products."

Senator Patrick used his trip to Ceduna, nearly 800km northwest of Adelaide, to talk to businesses, councillors and Aboriginal leaders.

"I was surprised at the level of support for the card from Indigenous leaders, although it was by no means unanimous," he said.

Mr Patrick's Facebook page has been inundated with comments from those who support and reject the card ahead of the vote in the senate.