“It is outrageous and offensive that Minister Terry Redman has told both media and the Shire of Halls Creek that refusal to take part in cashless welfare card trials will result in a loss of future funding”, said Australian Greens spokesperson on community services, Senator Rachel Siewert.
“Halls Creek should be allowed to oppose opt-in trials without sacrificing access to good services that are essential to overcoming disadvantage. Communities are crying out for services and here the Government inappropriately pressuring them in order to get access to better services.
“Effectively bribing communities into cooperating on this measure is unjust and Minister Redman’s comments should be retracted.
“Funding should be allocated based on need and merit, not on forced community cooperation on measures they do not agree with.
“I congratulate Halls Creek Shire who have stood firm in the face of this pressure from the Government. I support their continued refusal to participate in cashless welfare card trials.
“The Shire have previously outlined their concerns that the cards will not be effective in reducing drug, alcohol and gambling abuse as they echo income management methodology which has not worked in the Northern Territory. I share this view and I'm concerned that the card will increase welfare dependency.
“The Federal has in fact in this situation got an opportunity to better access the impact of the welfare card. Federal and State governments should be giving the Halls Creek community the same services they will give to Kununurra, this will enable them to evaluate the impact of the card and the additional services.
“Communities facing significant challenges need genuine social services that help individuals deal with the challenges they are facing. Properly funded long-term detox and rehab services, wrap around services that meet people’s needs, early intervention supports, addressing the causes of disadvantage, better controls on the supply of alcohol all help address this terrible problem”.