WA Police figures provided to State Parliament show 277 theft offences in the North-West town in the year to May, up from 195 in the year leading up to the card’s introduction in April last year. The number of property offences rose to 965, up from 805, while there were 59 more incidents of threatening behaviour and seven more cases of non-aggravated robbery.
Crime rates were slightly down in the smaller community of Wyndham, which is also part of the East Kimberley trial.
Working-age welfare recipients in the trial sites have 80 per cent of their benefits paid into the card, which functions as a Visa card but cannot be used at liquor stores, for gambling or to withdraw cash.
The Government is due to release the independent Wave 2 report on the East Kimberley and Ceduna trials in the coming weeks as it firms up locations for two new test sites announced in the May Budget.
WA Greens senator Rachel Siewert, who opposes the trials, said the crime statistics indicated a significant increase in robbery and threatening behaviour in Kununurra since the card was introduced.
“For those managing on a shoestring budget, the card makes life more difficult, and those struggling with addiction will find ways around it,” she said.
An earlier report found trials of the card had been “effective to date”.