Additional Comments from Coalition Senators

Additional Comments from Coalition Senators

1.1Labor’s decision to axe the Cashless Debit Card without any consultation with the thousands of Australians who relied on it has had devastating consequences.

1.2Since the repeal of the CDC, we have seen vulnerable communities feeling the devastation through a spike in crime, gambling, alcohol-fuelled violence, and child neglect.

1.3The government was repeatedly warned that abolishing the compulsory Cashless Debit Card would lead to drug and alcohol-fuelled violence being unleashed into vulnerable communities, and it is evidently having a devastating impact on women and children, including but not limited to family and domestic violence.

1.4Coalition Senators also want to stress their ongoing concerns around the Albanese Labor Government’s documented failure to adequately consult with communities who are most affected by their legislative and policy changes around income management.

Coalition Policy

1.5The Coalition believes that income management, both compulsory and mandatory, has a place in the makeup of Australia’s social security scheme.

1.6During his Budget in Reply speech, Opposition Leader, Peter Dutton stated that he:

… reaffirm[s] our commitment to re-instating the Cashless Debit Card in communities who seek to have it, so that welfare payments can be spent on food for kids – not alcohol and drugs.[1]

1.7This underpins the Coalition’s approach to income management; that it must be provided in consultation with those communities who seek to have it.

Concerns About Consultation

1.8Throughout the hearings and within the submissions, concerns about consultation were raised by stakeholder groups.These concerns echo similar matters raised during the inquiry into the Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Repeal of Cashless Debit Card and Other Measures) Bill 2022[2]where Coalition Senators again expressed that the government has failed to adequately consult with communities impacted by their changes.

1.9In their submission, Economic Justice Australia outlined their ongoing concerns surrounding the lack of adequate consultation, when they stated:

In our April submission on the Income Management Reform Bill, we voiced concern regarding the … lack of transparency and the absence of consultation regarding the rollout of the EIM regime more generally.[3]

1.10They go on to say about the current set of legislative instruments under review that:

Although the Explanatory Statement states that “extensive consultation has been undertaken with affected communities in relation to abolishing the cashless debit card program and reforming income management…”, there is no reference to consultation in relation to the impacts, necessity or substance of each particular Determination, nor is there information regarding the nature of the ongoing consultations regarding EIM more generally.[4]

1.11During the hearings when asked whether they’ve been engaged in any formal consultation, Ms Crowe from ACOSS said ‘[t]here's been no formal consultation with us to date.’[5]

1.12But we know from previous inquiries and from evidence given at the hearings that if consultation was done properly there would be a diversity of opinions on the matter of income management.As stated by Mr Kiyingi at the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service:

In stating that, where we refer to the importance of consultation, it really lies in the fact that there is a rich cultural diversity among the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Australia and in the islands, including the islands of the Torres Strait. For that reason, we do acknowledge that there may be differences of opinion amongst different communities in relation to the form of income management. That really speaks to our view that there has to be an emphasis on consultation with communities, with individuals and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait community controlled organisations.[6]

1.13It is clear no proper consultation was undertaken both in the repeal of the Cashless Debit Card scheme, and in the ongoing administration of Labor’s new income management scheme.

1.14The communities most impacted by these changes were not consulted with, and as a result, the Albanese Labor Government risks leaving those communities at a greater risk of violence and poor outcomes.


1.15The Albanese Labor Government has mismanaged the consultation process for a key pillar of Australia’s social security system.The Coalition would reinstate its policy for communities who want it, ensuring that they have agency and influence over decisions that impact their everyday lives.

Recommendation 2

1.16The Australian Government legislates the Coalition’s Cashless Debit Card Scheme.

Recommendation 3

1.17In the absence of the Coalition’s Cashless Debit Card Scheme, the current legislative instruments remain in effect.

Senator Maria KovacicSenator Wendy Askew

Senator Dave Sharma


[1]Liberal Party of Australia, Budget in Reply, 11 May 2023,

[2]Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee, Social Security (Administration) Amendment(Repeal of Cashless Debit Card and Other Measures) Bill 2022, August 2022,

[3]Economic Justice Australia, Submission 8, [p. 3].

[4]Economic Justice Australia, Submission 8, [p. 3].

[5]Ms Charmaine Crowe, Program Director, Social Security, Committee Hansard, 22 January 2024, p. 5.

[6]Mr Kulumba Kiyingi, Senior Policy Officer, Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service, Committee Hansard, 22 January 2024, p. 9.