Central Land Council’s Josie Douglas, Rayleen Brown, Senator Jacqui Lambie and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy.
Central Land Council’s Josie Douglas, Rayleen Brown, Senator Jacqui Lambie and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy.

Lambie left ‘furious’: Opposes cashless welfare cards

THE Morrison Government will face an uphill battle to expand its cashless debit-card program across the NT, after independent senator Jacqui Lambie said she would withdraw her support.

The crossbencher previously said she "broadly supported" an expansion of the welfare card program but changed her tune during a "fact finding mission" to the Territory this week.

The withdrawal of Lambie's support will mean the Coalition will face a roadblock in the Senate to pass legislation that would expand the card to the NT, Cape York and extend existing sites in WA.

Territory senator Malarndirri McCarthy invited Lambie to visit the NT before they debate the legislation next month.

Ms Lambie and Ms McCarthy with representatives from Tangengtgyere Women
Ms Lambie and Ms McCarthy with representatives from Tangengtgyere Women

But after meeting with residents in Papunya, Haarts Bluff, Alice Springs and Milingimbi, Lambie was left furious because she felt the government had "misled" her on how much consultation they'd done in the Territory.

A spokeswoman for the senator said the Morrison Government had assured her that they had come to the NT and sat down to tell communities about the cashless debit-card but when Lambie spoke with residents herself she realised that wasn't the case.

"The government better get their arse out here because I'm not voting for this until they do," Ms Lambie said.

Labor's Malarndirri McCarthy said she would fight to make sure the legislation doesn't pass.

"My concern is that the cashless debit-card legislation that will be debated in February sittings is going to immediately impact about 22,000 people in the Territory who are on the Basics Card that will be made to switch," she said.

Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie was also meant to join the trip this week but couldn't attend due to bushfires in her South Australian electorate of Mayo.

A spokeswoman for the MP said she sent people from her office in her stead.

"The visit was informative and Rebekha will be raising community concerns about what appears to be a lack of appropriate and meaningful consultation with remote communities with Minister Anne Ruston," she said.

"Centre Alliance has not reached a position on the card."



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