Wednesday, 14 June 2017
That the Senate—
(i) the drug testing trial of 5,000 people applying for income support announced in the 2017-18 budget,
(ii) that the Government may require an exemption from the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to enact this measure,
(iii) that, in 2013, a position paper by The Australian National Council on Drugs, found there would be serious ethical and legal problems with implementing a drug testing program for income support recipients in Australia,
(iv) that both the United Kingdom and Ontario, Canada stepped away from proposals for drug testing income support recipients because it was rejected by experts as being discriminatory or imposing unfair conditionality, and
(v) that, from 2011 to 2014, only two people out of 108 408 tested in Arizona, USA had a positive drug test; and
(b) calls on the Government to abandon this budget measure.
The government opposes this motion. Drug testing is just one element of a suite of measures designed to help people back into work. It has been designed as a trial so that we can determine whether this policy works in Australia.
Labor has serious concerns about the government's proposed drug-testing trial of social security recipients. We have written to the Minister for Social Services with a series of questions about the proposed trial. We have also requested briefings from DSS and DHS. Those briefings have not yet taken place.
We are also consulting with key stakeholders, including health professionals and organisations that are on the front line of supporting drug addicted Australians. And we are still waiting to see the legislation. Therefore we believe that this motion being brought forward today is very premature and we cannot support it. We asked Senator Siewert if she would postpone the motion until we had been able to ascertain further detail and consider it through our processes. Unfortunately, she did not agree to do this.