Aussie Government Plan To Drug Test Welfare Recipients Is Back On The Table
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The Morrison government has revealed the controversial proposal to make welfare recipients undergo drug tests is still up for consideration.
The move was discussed in 2017 but Labor and the Greens squandered any chance of it getting through parliament. However, now that the dust from the election has well and truly settled, new Social Services Minister, Anne Ruston, said that the government is still keen to pass the legislation.
Speaking to Triple J's Hack programme, Ms Ruston said: "The drug testing trial remains Government policy."
The only thing standing in the way of the policy being enacted is the Coalition's ability to get it through parliament - which it seems will be pretty tough.
If the government wants to get the policy through, it will have to sweet talk Senate crossbenchers.
Labor's Social Services Minister Linda Burney also told Hack: "Experts are really worried because the evidence shows these kind of policies just don't work - particularly when the services people need to deal with addiction aren't available.
"For this reason, Labor has opposed this counterproductive policy in the past, and nothing has changed."
The Greens have also slammed the proposal, saying it is 'extremely disappointing' to see the policy is still on the table.
The initial plan was to make 5,000 welfare recipients, who are on Newstart or Youth Allowance, from three select suburbs or towns in Sydney, Brisbane and Western Australia undergo drug tests to see if they've been taking cannabis, methamphetamines or cocaine.
The general gist of the matter, in the government's eyes, is that if you're on welfare then you shouldn't be spending the taxpayer's money on drugs. They also said that taking drugs makes it harder for people to find work.
But there is concern from experts about whether the policy would help people who consume drugs.
St Vincent's Health Australia Chief Executive Toby Hall wrote for the ABC, saying: "I share the government's stated intention of helping addicts access treatment while keeping them in touch with employment and training.
"But this is not the way to go about it."
St Vincent's was one of many organisations or groups who made a submission to the government's Senate inquiry into the bill.
Others include the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Kirby Institute, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.