Opposition leader Peter Dutton said the Prime Minister must explain how withdrawing the cashless debit card will not lead to increased rates of domestic violence in indigenous communities.
Mr. Dutton was in Adelaide on Thursday to visit Intract Australia, an indigenous owned and operated company and one of the largest employers of indigenous staff in the country.
The visit came as the Albanian government seeks bipartisan support for a referendum to enshrine an indigenous voice in the constitution, while urging senators to abolish the cashless debit card, a key social reform of the coalition government.
Mr. Dutton previously expressed cynicism about a constitutionally recognized voice in Parliament, calling instead for more practical action to address violence and disadvantage in indigenous communities.
This includes keeping the cashless debit card to help reduce domestic violence rates in indigenous communities, Dutton told reporters during his visit.
The card was introduced under the Coalition government and allocated a portion of a person’s social income, which therefore could not be used to withdraw cash or spend money on alcohol and gambling.
“The abolition of welfare cards in indigenous communities, I am sorry to say, will increase the prevalence of violence in those communities, especially against women and children,” Dutton said.
“So we will continue our consultations on voice and other important issues for indigenous communities, but I really want the Prime Minister to take action now to reduce this violence within indigenous communities.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the vote would be more than symbolic in consulting indigenous communities on policies affecting them to achieve better results.
However, Mr. Dutton argues that the priority should be to immediately reduce harm and domestic violence in indigenous communities.
“I have been very passionate in my professional life, both as a police officer and in this job, to make sure I uphold the laws and enforce laws that protect children and reduce domestic violence,” he said.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said she spoke to people at a shelter for victims of domestic violence who said the card made no difference to their situation.
He said the government was considering introducing a voluntary revenue management program instead.
“We are talking to communities about what that could be like,” Ms. Rishworth told 2GB on Thursday.
“I want solutions that work. I want to help people who have drug or alcohol problems. I want to make sure they get the support that works. “