Cash petitioners treated like ‘rockstars’ in push against council

Jun 2, 2023

KATTER’S Australian Party MP Bob Katter is backing a newly-created petition which is calling on Cassowary Coast Regional Council to reverse its decision of going cashless at its facilities.

The council’s website states from July 1, 2022, the local government “will no longer accept payments by cash or cheque at our Customer Service Centres and other Council run facilities.”

The decision caused angst among the Cassowary Coast community with residents banding together to create a petition which reads: “This decision impacts our youth, the vulnerable, is discriminative, unpractical, undemocratic and controlling… We the undersigned residents petition to the Cassowary Coast Regional Council that cash payments (legal tender) be re-instated at all CCRC facilities.”

Eubenangee resident and petitioner Karen Benn said following a 5000-signature petition, neighbouring Cairns Regional Council opted to return cash at its facilities in April, after beginning its transition towards electronic transactions in 2019, and she was hopeful a similar outcome could be achieved further south.

Ms Benn said volunteers who were distributing petition forms were being treated “like rockstars” in each Cassowary Coast town, where the forms were now available at pubs, cafes, service stations, bakeries and most small businesses.

“With the forms and online, we have about 600 signatures so far,” Ms Benn said.

“Our fear is if our government is doing this, other businesses might follow. But it should always be our choice.

“The council might tell us only 9 per cent of people are using cash, but if you look through their statements they’re hammering diversity and inclusiveness in all departments, so is it OK to discriminate against that 9 per cent?

“I know people with disabilities who can work with cash, they know what they’re doing, but they’re unable to operate computers and cards, and the elderly are the same.”

Mr Katter recently fought to keep the Westpac branch open at Tully, as well as Ingham and Cloncurry, and said he strongly opposed the removal of cash transactions from communities.

“As it stands, cash is legal tender,” Mr Katter said.

“This is a scary pathway to be moving down, because when your money is in the bank, the bank controls it, not you. With cash, you control it.

“With banks and electronic money, they decide if you receive credit or not, they decide how you spend your money.

“And in an area like the Cassowary Coast, I don’t think we want to be reminded, but we will get cyclones, we will lose power, and we will need cash when EFPTOS doesn’t work.”

Mr Katter said he urged the CCRC to listen to its residents and reverse its decision of going cashless.