Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin
Shadow Minister for Social Services
Shadow Minister for the NDIS
Shadow Minister for Housing
Shadow Minister for Homelessness
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Interview with Chris Kenny – Sky News Australia





Monday 22 April, 2024

TOPICS: Labor’s housing crisis, border security


Chris Kenny: Now, it’s been almost two years since Labor scrapped the Cashless Debit Card against the wishes of a lot of people. It used to quarantine 80 per cent of an individual’s welfare payments, preventing them from blowing their money on grog or gambling. We warned that the decision was going to backfire and now one of the towns that took part in the trial, Ceduna in far western South Australia, has been forced to introduce new alcohol restrictions after a rise in crime and anti-social behavior. Shadow Social Services Minister Michael Sukkar joins me live from Melbourne. Good to talk to you, Michael. This is just a crying shame for Ceduna because they said that the Cashless Debit Card had helped make their community safer.

Michael Sukkar: Yes, it’s devastating, Chris, for Ceduna. Ceduna did not want the cashless debit card abolished. Labor abolished the card on coming to Government and we repeatedly warned that if you pour alcohol and drugs back into the streets, that that’s going to be a terrible thing, not just for Ceduna but all of the CDC sites. And I suppose from your and my perspective, Chris, the least surprising thing on earth happened and that is some 18 months after Labor abolished the Cashless Debit Card, we now see the violence and anti-social behavior in Ceduna has led to these alcohol restrictions. Quite frankly Chris, the Minister here has failed. The Minister was warned. The Minister did not consult with the community in abolishing the cashless debit card. Countless numbers of individuals and families and businesses will have been absolutely devastated over the past 18 months with all of the alcohol now running rampant through their communities. Quite frankly, the Minister’s failed here, Chris, and the Minister should resign.

Chris Kenny: Well, look, we know there are lots of issues at play here, but alcohol and drugs are always a big factor. And surely when we’ve seen the ongoing strife in Alice Springs, it’s a clarion call to the country to get out of these problems. Surely Labor needs to swallow their pride and get back at looking at the Cashless Debit Card as a solution in many communities.

Michael Sukkar: Well, Chris, we knew the cashless debit card was working to begin with, so they abolished the cashless debit card themselves, knowing that it worked. Now it’s 18 months later. We know with certainty that it works because a site like Ceduna has had to put in place these alcohol restrictions. They’ve not put the alcohol restrictions for any other reason than that. The devastation that has been brought on this community has led them to this desperate situation thanks to Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party.

Chris Kenny: Just a shocker. Thanks for joining us, Michael. Appreciate it. Michael Sukkar there. We take one step forward and then two steps back.