The Coalition’s proposed Drug Testing Trial in Mandurah is one step closer to becoming reality, with its legislation passing the House of Representatives.
The Bill was passed with unanimous support by the Coalition, despite opposition from the Labor Party.
Member for Canning Andrew Hastie supported the Bill, arguing it complemented action already taken by the Coalition in Mandurah.
“In Mandurah, the Drug-Testing Trial is part of a multipronged approach to fighting local drug abuse. The Coalition has invested in improving health services through the PYMS Health Hub and headspace, and in school education programs. And now with this program we’re directly identifying and coming alongside the people who need help.”
“The Drug Testing Trial provides further funding for local drug treatment services, and, crucially, it helps keep taxpayers' money out of the hands of drug dealers.”
The Trial is an innovate approach by the Coalition to assist job seekers struggling with substance abuse. Under the program, recipients of Youth Allowance and Newstart in Mandurah may be required to undergo a random drug test.
Those who test positive will have 80% of their payments placed on Income Management- still available to buy essentials, but unable to be withdrawn as cash. None of their payment will be cancelled.
Those who test positive a second time will be referred to a medical professional and have treatment for substance abuse incorporated into their Centrelink Job Plan.
As one of three trial sites, Mandurah will share in $10 million to boost local drug-treatment capacity and support.
Mr Hastie argued that the trial’s design expected nothing more from jobseekers than would be expected in employment.
“Drug addiction is a huge barrier to long-term employment. Many jobs today require regular drug tests. I was tested in my previous career. Drug testing is common in the mining industry, one of the biggest employers in WA. Even the City of Mandurah, who has opposed this trial, drug tests its employees.”
“Helping people get a job is the entire point of Newstart and Youth Allowance. So rather than letting these people be forgotten in the system, potentially for years with no change, the Drug Testing Trial identifies them early to receive the help they need to become drug-free and job ready.”
“The feedback I’ve received indicates that most people in Mandurah intuitively understand the sense in this plan. Many are already randomly tested at work and can't see the controversy. Others are actually surprised it doesn't happen already.
Mr Hastie acknowledged some members of the community had told him politicians should be tested as well.
“One of the more common objections that people have made about the Drug Testing Trial is to suggest politicians should be drug tested; that we should be setting the standard. I understand the sentiment.”
“Recently, I met with Brian Lloyd of Drug-Safe Workplaces Western Australia. Drug-Safe Workplaces collaborates with employers, staff and unions to implement drug and alcohol testing. Brian believes that drug testing should not be punitive and that it should be pre-emptive. By identifying early when someone has encountered substance abuse, we can act and help them before things get out of hand.”
“After speaking with Brian, and in light of some of the feedback it seems appropriate to lead by example. So next week, my team and I will undergo the same test proposed by this legislation.”
“Let's remember that this program is a trial. The government is trying something new in a further attempt to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
“This is sensible, practical and popular policy. Labor will have to answer to the Mandurah community if they continue to block the peoples' will.”
The Bill now goes before the Senate.