In late 2017, the Coalition Government attempted to pass a Welfare Reform Bill that included drug-testing of people on income support. The Bill stalled twice in the Senate, amid concerns about unfairness, before it lapsed at the end of the last Parliament.
The Government now intends to reintroduce the Bill which, if passed, will see drug-testing trialled for two years for around 5000 new recipients of Newstart and Youth Allowance (other) in Canterbury-Bankstown (NSW), Logan (Qld) and Mandurah (WA).
Anyone testing positive will be placed on income management for two years and will be tested again 25 days later. After a second positive test, they will be referred to a doctor and must undertake any suggested treatment, and/or further subsequent tests, which may form part of their job plan.
Anyone testing positive who refuses to participate in treatment will no longer be able to use their drug condition as a mutual obligation exemption and may face financial penalties.
Refusal to submit to the drug test will result in the withdrawal of income support.
The Government is yet to reveal the full cost to implement the drug testing trial.