Keep cash alive rally instils ‘confidence’ in 3000 petitioners

Jun 26, 2023

CASSOWARY Coast residents fighting to keep cash alive are quietly confident their local government will reverse a decision to go cashless following a rally on Sunday at Innisfail’s ANZAC Park.

Katter’s Australian Party MPs for Kennedy and Hill, Bob Katter and Shane Knuth, joined over 150 Far North residents, some of which had travelled from the Tablelands and Cairns, to protest against a 2022 Cassowary Coast Regional Council decision banning cash from its facilities and venues.

Among the speakers was Cairns Regional Division 9 councillor Brett Olds, who after recently assisting his own constituents overturn a cashless decision, provided some advice to the frustrated Cassowary Coast residents.

His “words of wisdom” were to remind residents that Cairns councillors unanimously voted to return cash after “listening to its people.”

“I came down with words of encouragement and to let people know that if you’re angry, don’t be angry and silent, let people know, tell your councillors how you feel,” Cr Olds said.

“The advice was peacefully go do it, don’t attack people, let your voices be heard. They’ve got to make some phone calls, send some emails and say ‘I think you’ve made the wrong decision here and my voice through you hasn’t been heard’.

“With 3000 people signing that petition, that’s a great percentage, I’m confident for them the right decision will be made here.”

Rally coordinator Tara Garozzo, of the newly-formed Cassowary Coast Action Network said she hoped to lodge the petition by August and put the decision in the hands of the councillors.

“We found out our councillors never got a choice to vote on this, even though a few of them openly disagreed, so we launched a petition and held this rally,” Ms Garozzo said.

“We’re just wanting the decision to go back to councillors and for them to decide if cash can be reinstated.”

Mr Katter said it was unfair to take away cash, and thereby, take away the “choices and freedoms” of a government’s people.

“With cash, we control it, we control how we spend it and save it,” Mr Katter said.

“If we go cashless, we’re giving all our power over to CEOs on millions of dollars who run the banks and make a decision about your money with the click of a button.

“And in an area where we have so many cyclones and power goes out all the time, I mean what are you going to do when your ‘plastic magic’ doesn’t work?”

Mr Knuth said ratepayers deserved to have a say on such significant issues.

“Councillors will vote on fixing a gutter, but when it came to a region going cashless, they had no say, we want them to have a say,” Mr Knuth said.

“They’ll say this might only affect 10 per cent of the population, well that’s still 10 per cent and most of that is the elderly – they’re the people who don’t have access to that digital payment system, they rely on cash.

“We’ve seen bank closures all throughout rural and regional Queensland and the impacts that has and we believe if we don’t start now, we’ll see a domino effect take over every council.”