Australian government wants to drug-test beneficiaries

  • 01/03/2018

The Australian government has sparked bitter debate over plans to drug test welfare recipients.

The right-wing Coalition is attempting to introduce a new law that would allow a trial. Those caught using drugs would be offered treatment.

On Tuesday, Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said the trial was "not about taking away payments".

"This is about helping those people with a problem get treatment, help them help themselves and then get a job," he told parliament.

An extra $10 million would be set aside for drug and alcohol treatment support at the three trial sites in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

"We will also provide $1 million for an independent, third party to evaluate the trial while it is in operation," he said.

"If there are serious unintended consequences, the government will act."

It's the second time these laws have been proposed by the Turnbull government. Last year's welfare reform bill would have trialled drug testing 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients. This trial was cut after the government couldn't get the numbers to pass it in the Senate.

The new proposed laws also face severe opposition from Labor and the Greens. Greens senator Rachel Siewert said the "overwhelming evidence" from experts showed it would not work.

"It has already been rejected by the Senate, and for good reason."