Mandatory drug tests for welfare recipients could be rolled out under Government plan

| 06.09,19. 03:35 AM |



Mandatory drug tests for welfare recipients could be rolled out under Government plan



Photo: A welfare recipient who failed a drug test could be placed on income management under the plan. (Jonathan Beal: ABC)


Thousands of welfare recipients would be drug-tested for substances including ice, marijuana and cocaine under a revived plan set to go before Federal Parliament next week.


The two-year trial would see 5,000 new recipients of Newstart or Youth Allowance tested for drugs in three locations — Logan in Queensland, Canterbury-Bankstown in New South Wales and Mandurah in Western Australia.


Medical and addiction experts attacked the idea when it was first proposed in 2017 and the Government eventually shelved it after conceding it did not have enough support to get it through the Senate.


But Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said a number of changes had been made to the original bill, including adding heroin and cocaine to the list of substances to be tested along with ice, ecstasy and marijuana.


"Whilst the information that we have indicates that methamphetamine and cannabis are probably the two most highly used drugs at the moment, the additional cost of testing for these other two — cocaine and heroin — is very, very minimal so we've added that to the trial as well," she said.


Under the proposal, a welfare recipient who failed a drug test would be placed on income management with up to 80 per cent of their payments moved onto a cashless debit card.


A second positive test would result in a referral to a rehabilitation program, although Senator Ruston said the Government had backed down from an earlier plan to also charge the recipient for the cost of the test, believed to be around $100.


"One of the things that we certainly heard loud and clear when the original bill was put out for consultation is that people wanted to make sure that this wasn't a punitive measure, this was actually a measure to assist people," she said.


"So we've listened and we've decided that it makes sense for us not to seek to get that amount recovered."


Labor and the Greens opposed the original bill and both parties recently said they had not changed their minds on the policy, arguing it would not work.


Without their support, the Coalition needs the backing of at least four of the six Senate crossbenchers to pass legislation in the Upper House.


Senator Ruston confirmed discussions with crossbenchers were already underway and said she was hopeful the Government could convince them to support the plan.


"This is a measure that we think will help people get over addiction and get themselves into work," she said.


"So what we're asking is please let us have the opportunity to trial it and once we've got that information and the data collected, then let's have an assessment as to whether the trial is worth rolling out more broadly."


abc


(Votes: 0)

Other News

Man charged over stabbing death of Gold Coast teen Schools put into lockdown in south west Sydney as woman brandishes knife in street Yacht carrying tonne of drugs hits Abrolhos Islands reef, alleged smugglers found on island Samantha Knight killer Michael Guider released from jail and targeted by motorcyclist Police identify woman found in Brisbane park, launch homicide investigation Catastrophic bushfire conditions forecast for parts of southern Queensland tomorrow Woman's body found by council workers in northern Brisbane's Kalinga Park Australian Federal Police raid Canberra home where intelligence officer lived Holidaymakers spending millions more than they need to on foreign cash exchange Pair arrested over alleged Melbourne hit-and-run that killed international student Interest rates stay on hold at 1pc as Reserve Bank holds fire despite stalling economy Medibank accused of misleading 800 policy holders who were waiting for surgery Accused wife killer John Chardon denies asking 15yo daughter to lie for him Man and woman arrested over toddler's death in Melbourne's south-east William Tyrrell in Spider-Man suit photo to be probed by forensic investigators Three men in serious condition after Melbourne stabbing Family rescued after night in bush following Father's Day beach walk on NSW Central Coast House price surge in Sydney and Melbourne drags national index higher Australia's old powerlines are holding back the renewable energy boom Dead woman found wrapped in plastic was never reported as missing, police say Hundreds flee Melbourne nightclub blaze 'No jab, no pay' threat prompts an extra 174,000 children to be vaccinated in one year Blood cancer rates and mortality in Australia much worse than previously thought, study finds Drivers who break the road rules are being blamed for adding to congestion Drunk driver towed burning trailer for 2 kilometres around Adelaide, SA police say Two left unconscious on footpath after group served 86 soju shots at Sydney Korean restaurant redit card surcharges: ACCC issues warning over illegal add-ons Sydney has had nearly a months worth of rain in just two days Pedestrian killed in hit-run in Melbourne's southeast Canterbury Bankstown Council sets sights on three-dimensional crossings to improve road safety