Cash remains king as Katter Australia Party take a stand against digital transactions

Mar 20, 2024
As Queensland MPs rally to defend the sanctity of cash, their motion underscores the ongoing debate surrounding the future of payments in an increasingly digitised world. Source: Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS.

In a theatrical gesture, members of the Katter Australia Party (KAP) strutted into Queensland’s parliamentary chambers dressed as royals, draped in wads of fake money.

However, their attire wasn’t just for show; it was a visual testament to their cause: preserving cash as legal tender in the digital age.

Led by MP Robbie Katter, the party is set to lodge a motion in parliament calling to keep cash as legal tender and an accessible option for those who choose to use it.

“We’re taking it into the Queensland parliament to determine and make sure that cash remains king in Queensland,” Katter told reporters on Wednesday, March 20.

At the heart of their motion lies a commitment to providing Queenslanders with the choice to continue using cash, especially in regions vulnerable to natural disasters. Fellow MP Nick Dametto highlighted the importance of cash during emergencies when online connectivity might falter, rendering digital transactions inaccessible.

The party’s scrutiny extended beyond the preference for cash, with banks coming under fire for regional branch closures and exorbitant online transaction fees.

“We want to make sure that $50 remains $50. Don’t let the greedy banks to continue to skim off your transactions,” Mr Dametto said.

While KAP wages its battle to safeguard cash transactions, the nation inches closer to a cashless society, a trend accelerated by the convenience of digital payments. RMIT associate professor Dr. Angel Zhong highlighted this shift, noting that Australia could bid farewell to cash by the end of the decade.

“The shift towards a cashless society in Australia isn’t just a possibility, it’s already well underway,” Zhong explained in a piece for The Conversation.

“The convenience of digital transactions has become irresistible for consumers and businesses and has led to the sector eclipsing traditional payment methods.”

A recent report from the Australian Banking Association shed light on the fast-growing popularity of digital payments.

Payments through digital wallets on smartphones and watches have surged from $746 million in 2018 to over $93 billion in 2022. Cash now makes up only 13 per cent of payments in Australia, down from 70 per cent in 2007.

Digital wallets are a hit across age groups, with two-thirds of Australians aged 18 to 29 making purchases using them. Surprisingly, about 40 per cent of Australians feel comfortable leaving home without physical wallets or cards, as long as they have their mobile devices with digital wallets.

Despite the digital shift, some reassurance comes from experts like Zhong, who emphasises that cash won’t vanish entirely.

“It doesn’t mean that there’s no bank notes at all. No one should be panicking that your banknotes will no longer carry value,” she told Nine News.

“If you look at the statistics about banknotes in circulation, it actually remains at around 20 per cent, according to the report, over the years.

“The meaning of cashless society is more about the way that we transact, it adds to the convenience of our day-to-day lives.

“There is always a place for cash but the majority will be making payments with digital wallets.”

As Queensland MPs rally to defend the sanctity of cash, their efforts underscore the ongoing debate surrounding the future of payments in an increasingly digitised world.

While the allure of a cashless society beckons, the resilience of physical currency serves as a reminder that in the realm of finance, old habits die hard.

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