Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt.
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt. Mike Knott BUN201217PITT2

Cashless card most popular policy: MP

KEITH Pitt says the Cashless Debit Card is the most popular government policy he has ever seen.

But Labor doesn't agree, with one MP saying independent research the government was using to spruik the card was among "the worst" she had come across.

Mr Pitt spoke in parliament on Monday night during the second reading of a Bill the government needs to pass so it can roll out the card in Hinkler and WA's Goldfields.

"The overwhelming majority of the support in the community is for the cashless card - more than 70 per cent," he said in parliament.

"In fact, I've never seen a policy of government, on either side, supported as strongly as this.

"It has been quite incredible.

"I get stopped on the street. I get pulled up by people who say: 'Please do not give up on this. It is something that we need to do.'

"I see them out there every single day.

"We take phone calls in my office constantly from people saying 'We've got to do this. It is necessary'."

The former assistant minister for tourism, trade and investment blasted Labor for opposing the roll-out before pleading with them to support it.

Saying society was "failing a generation of children", Mr Pitt referenced NewsMail stories about ice abuse and a Fraser Coast Chronicle story about gambling losses.

Welfare recipients on the card have 80 per cent of their Centrelink payments quarantined from being used to buy alcohol, gamble or withdraw cash. In Hinkler, it will apply to Newstart and parenting payment recipients under 35.

Labor supported the card's trial in Ceduna and East Kimberley but said support for further roll-outs hinged on community support.

Late last year it announced it would oppose the CDC in Bundaberg, making it difficult for the government to get the Bill passed by the Senate.

Yesterday Opposition human services spokeswoman Linda Burney was critical of the independent evaluation of the trial sites.

She also said the card had not led to a reduction in violence, a key aim of the scheme.

Kathryn Wilkes, who has led the No Cashless Card group in Hinkler, said pokie losses in the region did not all come from welfare payments.

She said much of the money would come from retirees and tourists, and wanted the government to use official statistics instead of vague claims.

"Keith Pitt is denigrating this region," Ms Wilkes said.

Ms Wilkes said Mr Pitt's claim of community support was wrong, pointing out NewsMail and Fraser Coast Chronicle polls that showed four in five respondents were against the CDC.

"If he has so much support why does QCOSS oppose it? What about the Queensland Teachers' Union?"

A spokesman for Human Services Minister Dan Tehan, who has not visited Hinkler since assuming his portfolio in December's cabinet reshuffle that saw Mr Pitt dumped, said he was continuing to negotiate with cross-benchers in hopes of getting the Bill through the Senate, where the government does not hold a majority.


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