Trial welfare drug-testing in Burnie, says Abetz

Trial welfare drug-testing in Burnie, says Abetz

Senator Eric AbetzTasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz says the high level of drug dependency in Burnie makes it an ideal site for a radical newdrug-testing program.
Nanjing Night Net

The federal government from January wants to drug-test up to 5000 new welfare recipients and impose sanctions on those who return positive results.

The two-year trial is planned tostart in south-west Sydney and two other sites,yet to be decided upon.

Labor and the Greens have expressed opposition to the trials which means that the government will need to lobby crossbench senators hard.

An initial positive test means that a welfare recipient will have 80 per cent of their payment placed on a cashless welfare card for two years.

Another failed test would result in a referral for medical treatment.

Senator Abetz saidhe would write to Social Services Minister Christian Porter to see if the program could be rolled out in Tasmanian once the first trial was underway.

“There’s no sense of social justice, any sense of fairness or equity, in allowing people with drug problems to sit on welfare and not seek to help them off drugs and into work,” he said.

“Clearly there are a number of drug dependency issues in the North-West of Tasmania and I believe a pilot site would benefit the community to see if this programme can help Tasmanians come off drugs and find employment.

“Taxpayers want welfare to be a safety net and not a hammock.”

Bass Labor MHR Ross Hart said labelling certain groups as drug users did nothing to solve the underlying problems associated with poor levels of employment or high levels of substance abuse.

“We need to address the causes and not the symptoms,” he said.

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie said if welfare recipients and workers in the private sector had to be tested, so did politicians.

“These politicians are kidding themselves if they’re saying that drug problems begin and end in Western Sydney,” she said.

“If politicians are going to ask members of the public to be drug tested, it’s fair for the public to ask for politicians to submit to the same treatment.

“What’s there to hide?

“Shouldn’t the public have the same confidence in their elected representatives?”

The Examiner