Katter fury over jail threat for cash spenders

AN AGITATED Bob Katter has warned Australians who stuffed cash under their bed faced jail under proposed laws that make it offence for business to accept cash payments of $10,000 or more.

The Federal Kennedy MP declared "every person has a calico bag - a bit of cash stashed in a safe or under a bed" - and if they did not they were "fools".

The Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill will make it a criminal offence to make or accept a payment from businesses that includes $10,000 or more of cash.

It will also be an offence to make or accept a cash donation equal to or in excess of $10,000.

All consumer-to-consumer transactions, such as selling a second-hand car will be exempt.

Mr Katter, who revealed he would not support the laws, said it was not uncommon for Australians to pay for costly goods in cash because they did not trust banks.

"You won't be getting your lawns mowed (if the cash economy is banned),'' Mr Katter told The Courier-Mail yesterday.

While the draft laws aim to crack down on terrorism financing and the black economy, the firebrand MP said it could catch out ordinary Australians, who could be sent to two years jail or fined more than $25,000.

"Every farmer that can, every cash business are either liars or fools if they don't have a calico bag or cash under the bed,'' Mr Katter said.

"The Government will be making themselves extremely unpopular if they go through with this.

"Our freedoms are like trees, to keep away the cold you cut down a tree and one day you wake up and you're living in a desert wasteland. Those trees are our freedoms.

"With interest rates and the banks moving towards zero interest, there is not much point in leaving it there either.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar in the House of Representatives in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage
Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar in the House of Representatives in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage


"And so people wish to store their money in cash, which many do in a secret spot, or as gold or silver, then they wish to invest that money in an asset - there's not too many you can buy for under $10,000.

"A bloke sells a mob of cattle, he turns it into gold bars or shares certificates. He then wants to buy a block of land, subdivide it and build a block of houses - he needs $20,000 for a deposit - and this bill says he can't use the sale of those share certificates or those gold bars."

Crime syndicates have been caught in the past buying gift cards from major retailers to launder money in a bid to avoid seizure and prosecution.

Mark Knight cartoon on the funding of Australian terrorists with shopping cards
Mark Knight cartoon on the funding of Australian terrorists with shopping cards


Law enforcement revealed crime gangs bought gift cards to purchase goods, which were then sold to legitimise their illegal cash.

Some of the gift cards, loaded with amounts of up to $500, are bought with stolen credit cards and have been sold at discounted rates on internet shopping sites.

The Black Economy Taskforce final report, provided to the Coalition in 2017, recommended the Government introduce a $10,000 cash payment limit for transactions between businesses and individuals.

In the 2018-19 Budget, the Government announced the new limit would start in July this year, however, it was delayed to January 2020 in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, said the government was sending a strong message that using cash to avoid obligations and potentially engage in criminal activity was a serious matter that requires a sufficient level of deterrence.