Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Questions without Notice
My question without notice is directed to the Attorney-General and Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Brandis. I refer the senator to a Parliamentary Library brief I commission which states, in part:
(a) drug testing for welfare applicants and recipients has been proposed by governments in the UK and Canada.
(b) the idea has been discussed in Australia but so far the current federal government has ruled it out and has put it back in the two-hard basket.
(c) there are no obvious constitutional obstacles to introducing drug testing for income support recipients in Australia.
Will the government support testing for illicit drugs for income support recipients in Australia?
Senator Lambie, thank you for raising the issue. It is an important issue. The government keeps the criteria for eligibility for welfare payments under review at all time, but the government has no present intention to legislate in that respect.
Senator Lambie, I understand that in certain circumstances there are arrangements, at least in some of the public services in this country, for forms of drug testing. Details of those arrangements in various state public services I am not able to tell you. The government is not proposing to introduce such arrangements for members of parliament.
Mr President I ask a further supplementary question. I thank the Attorney-General for making it quite clear that he is not going to lead by example in this country. Will the government support testing for illicit drugs or alcohol for members of the parliamentary media gallery?
Honourable senators interjecting—