Senate Inquiry recommends Welfare Debit card be passed

Release Date: 
12 October 2015
Media release

The Senate Community Affairs Committee has recommended that the Welfare Debit Card legislation be passed.

I welcome this recommendation and ask that Labor now support the legislation.

The Committee also noted that the Government has consulted 'widely' to ensure the trial has significant support and that the Government will develop a tailored support package to ensure services are provided to meet community needs.

The Debit Card Trial has been co-designed with community leaders in the Ceduna region, where the initial trial will occur stating. The leaders want the trial to occur stating:

We want to build a future for our younger generation to aspire to and believe we cannot do this if our families are caught up in the destructive cycle of alcohol or drugs that destroys our culture...We have grasped this initiative; we have helped shape this initiative; and we are confident that that this initiative is for the betterment of all people within our region.

Additional drug and alcohol services and financial management expertise is part of the trial to assist people eliminate or reduce their dependence on alcohol, drugs and gambling.

This is a full frontal assault on alcohol, drug and gambling abuse that is causing so much harm in the community.

Getting to this point has a more than 12 month process, starting with the recommendation from Andrew Forrest to implement a "Healthy Welfare Card". We announced our intent to trial the card in March and the legislation has been available for full scrutiny since August.

Yesterday, I responded to each of the concerns raised by Labor in a detailed 26 page document.

It is now time for Labor to adopt the recommendation of the Senate Inquiry and support the legislation. The Government wants this to be a bi-partisan policy that the Parliament can own.