21 October, 2019
Thank you to everyone who provided feedback regarding the Government’s proposal to establish a two year drug testing trial in three regions for new recipients of Newstart allowance and Youth Allowance in Canterbury-Bankstown (NSW), Logan (QLD) and Mandurah (WA). I received a wide range of comments via emails, phone calls and social media, both in support and against the legislation, with the observations and comments demonstrating the diversity of views within the Warringah community.
I was concerned that the proposed trial may be harmful to vulnerable people; it will not solve the problem of drug addiction and that the testing process may be disparaging for those selected. On balance though, I voted with the Government for several reasons.
The first, and most importantly, no one will lose a single cent of welfare under this trial, it is just a change in how that welfare will be accessed.
The second reason is that this is a trial only – a trial that will provide data and science to determine whether there is a real need for this testing but also important data as to support services for substance abusers – whether these support services are adequate or effective.
And finally, drug testing is common in many work places including emergency service workers, construction workers, defence personnel, athletes and transport workers. In my own background, drug testing is a norm for athletes and when I worked in the family law system drug testing was regularly ordered and provided an important framework and safeguard for decision making.