Australia: Drug Testing Welfare Recipients not dead yet?

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Welfare drug test plans make a comeback

Controversial welfare drug test plans have been revived by Social Services Minister Dan Tehan, who wants opponents to “be brave” and support them.

Controversial plans to drug test welfare recipients will help reassure taxpayers their money isn’t being used to subsidise drug dealers, the federal government says.

The coalition introduced laws into parliament on Wednesday to set up a trial in which people on welfare will be drug tested and offered treatment.

“The community has a right to expect that taxpayer-funded welfare payments are not being used to fund drug addiction, and that job seekers do all they can to get a job,” Social Services Minister Dan Tehan told parliament on Wednesday.

“We don’t want our welfare system subsidising drug dealers.”

Mr Tehan said the trial would be rolled out across three sites in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia from April, if it passes parliament.

The government will provide up to $10 million for additional drug and alcohol treatment support across the three sites.

There will also be $1 million for an independent, third party evaluation of the trial which Mr Tehan said would prevent “unintended consequences”.

He said the proposal wasn’t about penalising people with drug abuse issues.

“It is about finding new and better ways of identifying these jobseekers and ensuring they are referred to the support and treatment they need,” he said.

Anyone who tests positive will be shunted onto cashless welfare cards, while those who fail more than once will be referred to medical professionals for treatment.

Jobseekers who refuse a drug test will have their payments cancelled and they’ll be barred from reapplying for four weeks.

Mr Tehan has urged opponents to “be brave” and back the trial.

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