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Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Page: 17

Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (13:16): When are you going to stop reiterating that, when, quite clearly, the ANAO report has shown that you do not have enough information to show there has been a reduction in social harm? As for Mayor Bowler, I pointed out very clearly during the last debate—I acknowledge that Minister Fifield was not in the chamber at the time—that WA Police have said that they cannot point to the cashless welfare card as being the body that's responsible for any reduction of antisocial activity in the Goldfields area, because their operation, Operation Fortitude I think it's called, was running at the time. So claims there has been a reduction in social harm are just not correct. The ANAO report has clearly pointed that out. For the record, people, please read the ANAO report, because it has shown that there is not the evidence to claim there has been a reduction in social harm. The statistics that were just quoted are cherry-picked from a very flawed analysis by Orima. Read the ANAO report and look at what they said about the data that was very conveniently not included in the analysis: the flawed approach to the survey of participants; the push-polling approach to the participants; and the fact that so many participants have said it's made their lives worse. In fact, when I was in Leonora the other day to discuss the storage of waste and uranium mining, which I'll talk about in the chamber at a later date, the issue of the card was raised with me there. A person who had previously been a supporter of the card is now on the card and, quite frankly—surprise, surprise—it's making their lives more difficult. They are unable to use it satisfactorily. So can we please not keep falsely claiming that this card is reducing social harm, because the evidence is not there to show that it is. At best, the evidence that the government uses is anecdotal. I can repeat many anecdotal examples that people have given directly to me. They have told me of the harm that it is causing them, the difficulty in using it and the many other concerns they have about the card, including being called 'druggies', being stigmatised, feeling humiliated and dealing with the difficulty of managing and using the card. So, please, don't keep repeating just what is handed to you by the government, which at best is basically just anecdotal points.