A Liberal MP has spoken out against her own government’s controversial program, saying she won’t support an expansion.
Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer has spoken out against her own government’s cashless debit card scheme, saying it does not address systemic issues and she will not support any further expansion of the program.
The controversial program is currently being trialled in a few locations — with the aim to curb drug and alcohol abuse, and gambling — and a bill is before parliament to make the card permanent.
Ms Archer told parliament on Wednesday that there were no alternative payment structures in place, so stopping the scheme in its tracks would potentially cause further disadvantage.
“After such a long trial phase, it would require some work to transition away from it again and I will continue to advocate for that to occur,” she said.
“It’s the only reason I’m not voting against this bill today.
“I want to make it unequivocally clear today that any proposed future expansion of this scheme will not have my support.”
Ms Archer said relying on government assistance was difficult financially, emotionally and mentally.
“I have been a recipient of government assistance myself at different times of my life and I can understand the distress that so many forced onto this card would feel,” she said.
“This system of income management strips away autonomy and a sense of pride no matter how well intentioned.
“Governments imposing control in this way is not a fix to the myriad issues driving disadvantage and at best it is a bandaid.
“Whenever you approach a human problem by inciting shame and guilt you have already lost those who you are seeking to help.”
The member for Bass also acknowledged some communities were more likely to experience generational disadvantage.
“It is however not clear to me that the cashless debit card program is the best solution or even a good solution to address some of these systemic issues,” she said.