Labor attempts to mop up destruction in regional towns after scrapping cashless debit card

Mar 30, 2023 | Libby Mettam MLA, State News

Almost six months after abolishing the Cashless Debit Card, the Albanese Labor Government is now desperately attempting to mop up the destruction it left in WA regional communities.
The announcement today the East Kimberley and Goldfields will receive extra funding to stop the rise in alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour is an admission by Labor that scrapping the cashless debit card has led to further suffering in our most vulnerable communities.
WA Liberal Leader Libby Mettam, who visited Laverton and Leanora earlier this year to see first-hand the ramifications of scrapping the cashless debit card, said the towns were left without help nor a solution as spike in youth crime and alcohol-fuelled violence tore through the community.
“Prime Minister Albanese and Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth have had their head in the sand on this issue,” Ms Mettam said.
“Minister Rishworth has repeated her talking point that there was no evidence the cashless debit card was making a difference to alcohol misuse in communities, and it was “disingenuous and wrong” to link the anti-social behaviour to the scrapping of the card.
“How out of touch can you be? It is a blatant misrepresentation by the Minister and the towns and communities tell a very different story.
“The increase in alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour in towns like Laverton and Leonora following the end of the cashless debit card is real, and it is hurting our regional communities.
“In addition, this decision has led to having a devastating impact of more abuse and neglect of women and children.
“This response from the Federal Labor Government has taken far too long, and what has been even more disappointing has been the lack of response from Premier McGowan and the WA Labor Government.”
The months following the abolition of the card saw a 50 per cent rise in child protection cases and a similar spike in elder abuse in the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Anecdotal evidence on the ground paints an even worse picture.
Laverton has twice introduced temporary restrictions on takeaway alcohol sales since Australia Day to counter the alcohol fuelled violence that has plagued the town.
Laverton Shire President Patrick Hill said: “When they pulled out the cashless card, they aren’t thinking about the consequences on the ground… it hasn’t fixed anything — it’s made things worse.”
“Why does the Social Services Minister think she knows better than local community leaders?”, Ms Mettam said.
“The Government decided to pursue ideology over common sense policy. Western Australian families and children are now wearing the consequences of that decision.”