Lambie welcomes new budget initiatives


Random drug tests of politicians should happen as soon as they walk through the doors of Parliament, Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie says, adding she welcomes testing for welfare recipients.

Senator Lambie's comments follow budget measures announced by Treasurer Scott Morrison that 5,000 new welfare recipients would be required to undergo drug testing, with those who test positive to be forced onto a Centrelink income-management scheme, which controls how a recipient spends their money.

They will also face referrals for treatment under the new rules.

Ms Lambie, who has spoken publicly of her family's battle with drug addiction, and has previously called for mandatory treatment of ice users, said parliamentarians should "lead by example".

"It is about time politicians led by example and both on the Senate side and the House of Reps, there should be random drug testing as you come through the doors," she said.

"It won't hurt them [politicians]. They are paid by the taxpayer, just like welfare is, and I think for them to show some leadership in this, that is exactly what should be done," Senator Lambie said.

Drug testing 'already on work sites'
The plan to drug test welfare recipients was defended by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who told the ABC "you can't go to work if you are smashed or drugged out".

"If I go to work and I can't go to work drunk or under the influence of drugs, neither can you ... you should present yourself in a capacity you are ready to go to work," he said.

"We want to make sure you get yourself in a position where you can get work and can get help if you need it."

NSW Member for Page Kevin Hogan said similar things were already being done on many work sites.

"If they're dysfunctional and on drugs every day and having a joint or sucking back on a bong every day and not going looking for work, that's not OK either," Mr Hogan said.

"This is a mutual obligation. We want to give you a welfare payment, we want to help you to find a job, we want you to get a job," Mr Hogan said.

No point testing without rehab in place: Lambie
Drug testing for welfare beneficiaries would be pointless unless it was accompanied by a treatment plan, Senator Lambie said.

"As long as they put a plan into place to make sure that these people receive treatment and a fair go to get back on their feet, otherwise there is no point drug testing anybody," she said.

Senator Lambie said there was virtually nothing in the Federal Budget for Tasmania, but congratulated the Government on including funding for Missiondale Recovery Centre, a residential recovery program in rural Tasmania.

Ms Lambie won praise in March following an emotional plea to Government members to reconsider welfare cuts, speaking of her own struggles as a single mother on the disability support pension for seven years.

This article first appeared in ABC News, May 10 2017

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