Malarndirri McCarthy talks to CAAMA Radio about the Cashless Debit Card

31 October 2019

Interview with Kyle Downling on CAAMA Radio about the Cashless Debit Card

KYLE DOWLING, CAAMA RADIO: From what you've heard during these Senate Hearings do you think the expansion of the card to the Northern Territory would actually benefit communities and in particular Aboriginal people?

MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: The evidence we've received so far is not showing that this will benefit the people of the Northern Territory. Academics plus Aboriginal organisations in particular in the Top End have providede evidence saying that there isn't real proof to even say that that can be the case. So naturally, when we meet in Alice Springs at the end of this month, I'll be very interested to hear what local families and communities have to say given that 21,000 Territorians are already on the Basics Card and they will automatically be moved to the Cashless Debit Card.

DOWLING: Now during the Senate Hearings Government Officials actually admitted that people on the card could actually buy illicit material like alcohol and pornography due to a loophole. I understands this came off the back of a question you asked about the use of the BPAY system, the bill payment system. Can you elaborate a bit on your question and the response gien by government officials.

MCCARTHY: Yes, absolutely Kyle, I was quite amazed that this point of policy had so dramatically changed given the inception of the Intervention was based on the concerns around child sexual abuse and the connectivity to pornographic material. And now, 12 years on, people who lived under the conditions of the Intervention, will now look like going on to the Cashless Debit Card where they will be able to purchase these very items that they were told were the reason for the Intervention. And i did ask the department, I said well don't you think it's perculiar that you're now enabling the purhcase of pornography through the cashless debit card when that was almost the very reason why - or one of the reasons why - the Federal Government under John Howard intervened into the Northern Territory. What was the policy change? And they just they're isnt any evidence to show that that has worked or not worked but they just decided to go ahead anyway.