POLICE: Officer in charge weighs in on cashless card
THE newly appointed officer in charge of Bundaberg Police Station has weighed in on the debate about the Cashless Debit Card coming to Bundaberg.
Senior Sergeant Michael McGarry took up post at the station on Monday and says he is "supportive" of a cashless card initiative until given reason to believe otherwise.
The police officer, who comes to the region after eight years of service in far North Queensland, spoke exclusively to the NewsMail about community divide over the Cashless Debit Card and gave a police perspective on what it could do for crime in the region.
"There is certainly merit in the argument for a cashless welfare card," he said.
"It has been trialled in other parts of the country and it seems to have some benefits.
"That doesn't mean to say you can have it imported into another area and it's automatically great - it has to be tailored for the individual community."
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt began campaigning for the card after last year's budget, which funded its expansion, and is pushing for legislation before the mid-winter break in August.
The card, which had previously been trialled in Ceduna and East Kimberley, would be intended for some welfare recipients under 35 in the Hinkler electorate, with 80 per cent of their payments placed on to the card without being able to access cash.
Mr Pitt has previously said he supported the Cashless Debit Card as a way to address unemployment and to deter the purchase of drugs and alcohol, in turn, reduce violence-related crime.
"Welfare is not intended to be used to buy alcohol or drugs," he said.
Snr Sgt McGarry said he would be taking a wait-and-see approach.
"I'm keen to meet and speak with Mr Pitt about policies that relate to the region," he said.
"If (the Cashless Debit Card) works then that's perhaps something that should happen."
As for the argument put forward by some opponents that the card would in fact increase crime, Snr Sgt McGarry said his officers would be ready.
"Will the welfare card cause crime to spike? It's an unknown and that's why I am supportive of trialling something," he said,
"If that happens then our job is to detect, investigate and prevent crime, like we usually do.
"The message that I want to give to the community is if you are going to commit crime, no matter why, what or where, you need to fear us because we will come after you and we will prosecute you."
Snr Sgt McGarry said in his new role, he would be heavily focused on how to tackle crime issues while keeping in touch with the community.
"It's my responsibility to ensure we work with the community around crime prevention, looking at strategies to prevent and investigate crime..." he said.
"I am hoping to bring some ideas and a listening ear to the community and staff about how we can do things better and where we can enhance service delivery, and maintain and sustain community relationships which is so important."