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Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Page: 14


Senator WATERS (Queensland) (12:55): This is not my second or first first speech—

The TEMPORARY CHAIR ( Senator Marshall ): Yet here we are!

Senator WATERS: Indeed. I just have a few questions—and, forgive me, I'm somewhat new to this area. I have just been in Bundaberg and had some fabulous consultation with the Say No to the Cashless Welfare Card Hervey Bay region people. They are dead against this card. They feel that it will increase stigma, it will reduce their autonomy and it won't help them pay their bills. It will make it harder for them to live their lives. It certainly doesn't empower them to make financial decisions about what they do with their own money. Is this just an ideological commitment from the government to tell people how to spend their money? There seems to be a disconnect there. I don't think the minister has even been to the region and asked these people what they think.

There was a Senate inquiry that didn't even get to the area. I managed to go and Senator Siewert managed to go. My predecessor, Senator Andrew Bartlett, managed to go, and I hear that a number of Labor senators have managed to go as well. When is the government going to send its minister to this region to actually listen to the community and hear that they don't want this draconian approach to them spending what are already limited funds?

I note that yesterday Senator Siewert introduced her bill to increase Newstart and youth allowance, because they are clearly already below the poverty line. Then you are cracking down further on people who are doing it tough and who are doing their best, and who don't need the patronising, dead hand of this painful Liberal government telling them what to do.