I attended the City of Mandurah's Special Council Meeting on Tuesday night which was held to discuss the federal government’s Drug Testing Trial.
I listened with interest to the concerns some Councillors raised. It’s disappointing some within the City of Mandurah are responding so negatively to this announcement. The struggle with drug abuse in Mandurah is well known, and we can’t afford to stick our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not an issue.
The considered comments made by Mayor Marina Vergone, Deputy Mayor Darren Lee and Councillors David Schumacher, Peter Jackson and Ron Wortley exhibited the civil discussion that should be had on this issue. In particular I welcome the comments made by Councillor Schumacher, who supported the idea of drug testing but wants to make sure there are sufficient services for mental health treatment.
The Drug Testing Trial has the potential to not only identify welfare recipients who are struggling with drug abuse, but also provide them with the treatment they need to get clean and get a job. It stops taxpayers’ money going to drug dealers, but more importantly, the program allocates an additional $10 million to support government services that will be treating people who test positive for illicit drug use.
Some council members voiced concerns about a lack of consultation and communication on the Drug Testing Trial. I was sorry to hear that, but note that since the announcement more than a week ago, no councillors apart from Mayor Marina Vergone have attempted contact my office to discuss the matter.
Locals want action, and the response from some councillors and the CEO is out of touch with the community.
This Drug Testing Trial has the potential to make a real difference. It’s the latest step I’m taking with federal government to address drug abuse in our region, in addition to funding the Peel Youth Medical Service Health Hub and the Mandurah headspace.
I completely agree with the council that we need more jobs in our region. Fortunately, the government is capable of doing more than one thing at once. During the 2016 election the City of Mandurah provided a list of seven projects it identified as employment priorities. I am pleased to say I’ve already secured federal funding for three of those projects, lobbied for and received feedback on another, and am currently in discussions with federal ministers about how to address the other three.
The federal government has also recently injected almost $3 million into job creation in the Peel region through two major projects; the development of the Dwellingup Trails Centre and the expansion of Quambie Park in Waroona. The Quambie Park expansion develops aged care services which will bring construction jobs and more ongoing full time employment. The Dwellingup Trails Centre will help develop the Peel region as an adventure tourism hub that will create jobs across a number of industries. Last week we also announced the first Employment Facilitator for Mandurah, who will help connect job seekers and retrenched workers with training, support and employment opportunities.
Job creation is ultimately the task of private enterprise, not government. Our task is to get policies right so business can thrive and employ more people. That’s why the federal government is reducing taxes and cutting red tape for small business.
The more than half a billion dollars that investors like ISPT have put into the Mandurah Forum, Halls Head Central and the Lakelands Shopping Centre also demonstrates that the private sector intends to bring jobs to our region.
The Drug Testing Trial has the potential to support job creation in Mandurah by helping to clean up our community. It can help make Mandurah a more attractive place for businesses to invest and families to raise their kids.