Welfare card corrections
The comment article We must not allow this social apartheid (by Zoe Wundenberg, February 5, 2019) says the cashless debit card roll out in Bundaberg-Hervey Bay includes people on disability support. In the region, the cashless debit card applies to people aged 35 years and under who receive Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance (Job seeker), Parenting Payment (Single) or Parenting Payment (Partnered). It does not apply to people on disability support.
The article says that the card has been “coloured as a government response to minimising ‘social harm’ through attempting to limit the purchase of alcohol, tobacco and gambling services”. This is also incorrect. The cashless debit card can be used to purchase tobacco but cannot be used to buy alcohol, gambling products or some gift cards.
Lastly, your report says there is “no evidence” of the card in addressing “social harm”.
An independent evaluation of the cashless debit card trial in the Ceduna region, South Australia, and the East Kimberley region, Western Australia, show the card was having a “considerable positive impact”. Of participants surveyed, the evaluation found: 41 per cent of participants who drank alcohol reported drinking less frequently; 48 per cent of participants who used drugs reported using drugs less frequently; and 48 per cent of those who gambled before the trial reported gambling less often.
Anecdotal evidence shows that people are better able to save money; parents have more money available to buy essential family items like nappies, food and clothing; police report fewer domestic violence callouts and health workers report fewer domestic violence presentations; and people say their town feels quieter and safer with less public drunkenness.
Department of Social Services
Self-serving and fearful
I read with dismay Concern over gas and oil drilling’, (Moyne Gazette, January 31, 2019) about yet another protest against oil exploration. This time it’s about offshore exploration in the Otway Basin. Last time it was about onshore exploration in the same basin. Then the information presented at protest meetings was misleading focusing on coal seam gas and fracking in an area without any coal prospects and bad practices not permitted in this state.
Does the public know that in January, 2002, Port Fairy number 1 was drilled to 1550m deep over nine days 3.5 kilometres from the town and a similar distance from the town’s water bore; without any detrimental effects on the town or its water supply. No doubt due to tight regulation including oil well engineering requirements well above those required for water bores. I also find the argument self-serving that so much gas is exported we cannot justify any exploration at all in our state. Exploration is research upon which informed development decisions can be made. Public policy should not be based on fearful misinformation but relevant risk management. In that context, onshore exploration to my mind would carry fewer risks than exploration in the southern Ocean.
Mike Raetz, Port Fairy
Balance on refugee debate
The article Last of refugee children to leave Nauru (Saturday, February 2, 2019) reported the removal of the remaining refugee children from Nauru but neglected to mention that the Morrison government went to court in order to block almost every single refugee child from being transferred to Australia for medical treatment. This included refugee children strongly suspected to be suffering resignation syndrome, the catatonic-like state that occurs far beyond profound depression in conjunction with a child no longer eating, drinking, walking or talking.
Credit for the removal of these children goes to the lawyers, doctors, caseworkers, activists and members of the Australian community who lobbied so hard for it to happen. The greatest barrier to their removal was Morrison's government.
In addition, allow me to add to the very selective, pro-Coalition "Detention numbers when the Coalition came to power in 2013" that were included at the end of your published article:
In 2017, Senate committee figures showed that Australia's offshore detention program has cost the federal government at least $5 billion since 2012.
In 2016, a Parliamentary report found that Manus Island alone had cost taxpayers about $2 billion since it was re-opened - more than $1 million for each of the 2000 people who have been held prisoner there. (Source for this: https://www.smh.com.au/public-service/cost-for-australias-offshore-immigration-detention-near-5-billion-20170717-gxci97.html)
In 2016, the Coalition spent $55 million of Australian taxpayers' money on a refugee resettlement deal with Cambodia that saw only two refugees in offshore detention resettle in Cambodia. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton called it "a pretty good outcome". (Source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/mar/09/55m-cambodia-deal-that-resettled-two-refugees-a-good-outcome-says-dutton)
Since the Coalition government "stopped the boats" more than 64,000 protection visa applications have been made by unvetted individuals who arrived in Australia by plane. (source: https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2018/12/09/record-number-asylum-seekers-peter-dutton/)
A bit of balance makes a real difference to the picture.
Terri Psiakis, Diamond Creek