Centrelink drug tests just ‘common sense‘, Minister says

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has said it's just "common sense" to drug test people who receive Centrelink benefits.

Talking on Channel 9's Today this morning, Mr Dutton said the controversial proposal - which would see welfare recipients who test positive put on income management - should be backed by Labor.

"It's not about a punishment, it's about making sure that money is spent on them, on their kids if that's the case, but not on drugs and illicit substances."

Draft laws will go to parliament next week that if passed will see a two-year drug testing trial will be rolled out in three locations - Logan in Queensland, Canterbury-Bankstown in New South Wales and Mandurah in Western Australia.

Similar laws were proposed last year but expired before they could be passed.

About 5000 new recipients of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance will be tested for ice, ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

Anyone testing positive will be placed on income management for a period of 24 months or the duration of the trial.

A second drug test will be scheduled within 25 working days of the positive result.

After a second positive test, the job seeker will be referred to a doctor who will assess their circumstances and identify treatment options. The job seeker may be required to undergo drug treatment as part of their job plan.

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton has said Labor should pack the drug test plan. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt.
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton has said Labor should pack the drug test plan. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt.

A $10 million treatment fund will boost drug treatment services in trial sites. "People on welfare who take drugs are denying themselves the best opportunity to take advantage of the jobs we are creating," Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said.

"That's why the Morrison government is trialling reforms the welfare system to ensure that we can identify and encourage people with substance abuse issues to get treatment, rehabilitate and make them job ready."

Mr Dutton said other partite should back the reform.

"It's a commonsense approach (that) I think it reflects community values. It's a measured approach which I think the Opposition should support.

"We know people unemployed are three times more likely to be using methamphetamine, for example," he told the Today hosts.

"It's a barrier to getting a job. It results in constant drug use or people who are addicted to illicit drugs have relationship problems, and we want to help those people get the help they need."