Wilson's Word - Cashless Debit Card
LAST week in Parliament, I commended the Senate for rejecting disallowance motions deliberately designed to halt the great progress of the Goldfields Cashless Debit Card trial.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert seldom visits the Goldfields, yet on the rare occasion she does, she chooses not to linger long enough to witness the impact of alcohol and drugs on the community, let alone offer solutions to problems that have haunted the Goldfields for decades.
Labelling the Cashless Debit Card trial “harmful”, “disempowering” and “disruptive” - despite it being commended by local businesses, the Mayor and CEO of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the majority of card participants - not only shows a complete disregard for the welfare of my constituents but a total ignorance of positive social reform.
What can be more “harmful” than witnessing a family disintegrate into chaos because the parents are off-their-heads on booze or drugs instead of providing a caring, nurturing environment for their children?
What can be more “disruptive” than seeing the same faces appearing at the court house because alcohol abuse has given them the false confidence to fight in the streets, shoplift from hard-working local business owners?
In addition, what can be more “disempowering” than being made homeless, because the downward spiral of alcohol and drug dependency, coupled with a gambling addiction, has rendered you incapable of paying your utility bills and rent or even buying food?
The last time Senator Seiwert came to Kalgoorlie she held a community meeting attended by a handful of people who were experiencing some level of difficulty adjusting to being on the card.
This meeting did not provide a platform for addressing their concerns, but rather exacerbated their distress instead of resolving any of the issues presented.
I have encouraged people experiencing difficulties to make contact with the myriad support agencies available to provide assistance.
I have engaged with countless people who have told me “the card has helped turn their life around” and I receive similar feedback from community leaders throughout the Goldfields, yet Senator Seiwert continually claims to speak on behalf of the entire Goldfields.
However, last Monday night, Senator Siewert’s suggestion to halt the Cashless Debit Card trial was resoundingly defeated by the Senate, opposed by 41 Senators.
The defeat of Labor Senator Doug Cameron’s disallowance motion followed immediately afterwards.
Just days before this debate in the Senate, City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mayor John Bowler reported, that although the card only started earlier this year, “all the indications were positive”, while police reported to a Liquor Accord meeting that the level of anti-social behaviour on the streets was clearly down over the past couple of months.
Retailers have reported disturbances around their premises had significantly diminished, while those attempting to abuse the card have been brought to account – in one case, a Kalgoorlie hotelier had their Cashless Card terminal shutdown after a large number of sales went through as meals.
Mayor Bowler also noted with respect to their two community hubs “the number of complainants was falling as the card holders learnt that in most cases the level of inconvenience was minimal”
I will let Shire of Leonora CEO Jim Epis have the final word.
“Following the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee’s public hearing in Kalgoorlie on October 12, 2017, an offer was made to those Senators in attendance to visit Leonora at Council’s expense and see for themselves how our communities were being destroyed, but they couldn’t even be bothered acknowledging receipt of the offer. I’m convinced they’re just afraid of the truth.
“Can I also add that the Cashless Debit Card is doing wonders for the Leonora community?
“It’s so peaceful, even the dogs have stopped barking at night”