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Drug test them all

A burning question arises from Budget 2017. What drugs are Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his team on? There can be no other rational explanation for the inclusion of a total clanger in an otherwise mediocre and generally anticipated bunch of policies. On Tuesday, 9 May, Treasurer Scott Morrison announced money for health, education, and farmers, more taxes, a hit to the banks and a kick for anti-vaxxers. And right at the end, a surreptitiously adopted populist measure to piss-test the poor.

There is no point asking what Mal, ScoMo, and Social Services Minister, Christian Porter, were thinking, as it is abundantly obvious. Perhaps more shocking than the policy itself, is that the Coalition has listened to people other than its rich donors. Yet in doing so, it has embarrassed itself by proposing as serious policy, a fetid and ghastly brainfart.

Despite having an abundance of professionals, consultants and experts at their fingertips, the not-so-illustrious leaders have turned to the blokes and women in the pub, and eagerly adopted the worn-out mantra of the self-righteously indignant and resentful.

I get drug tested for my job, why should those bludgers be able to smoke a joint and get the dole?

I don’t want my taxes going to meth-heads and stoners.”

Why should my money go to junkies to support their habits?

One can only guess how the conversation went in the back rooms of Parliament House.

“ScoMo, old boy, I have a plan!”

Yet just what intoxicating substance did Morrison snort to make him think such a proposal would be even remotely passable as a “cost-saving” measure? What potent brain-fudger did Turnbull and his team of budgeteers imbibe to magic up such pointless twatwafflery?

What jollies they must have had from the thought of sifting through rivers of excrement in search of the elusive whiff of weed.

The proposal is simple enough, in fact it is inherently simplistic. Drug test 5000 random welfare recipients for cannabis, ecstasy or methamphetamine use. If they test positive, they go on the cashless welfare card, in an attempt to deprive them of funds to buy drugs. The new program will focus on recipients of Newstart and Youth Allowance payments in three locations, and the so-called “random tests” will use “a data-driven profiling tool… to identify relevant characteristics that indicate a higher risk of substance abuse issues.”

There is even a little bit of rehabilitative help thrown in to satisfy the bleeding-heart, leftie whingers who might claim that depriving drug-users of access to cash and the autonomy to spend it as they wish is a violation of their human rights.

That is pretty much it. A hair-brained plan to test a select proportion of welfare recipients for drugs most commonly used by lower socioeconomic groups in some kind of vain attempt to force them off drugs and back into the workforce.

In what alternative universe does the Government think restricting the cash flow to drug users and abusers will result in anything other than terrible consequences for the community?

Instead of a mature debate about drug use and abuse in the nation’s poorest demographic, Turnbull and co have opted for a puerile, infantile tactic to win the votes of mainstream Australia. In between inhaling sweet vapours and digesting fermented grape juice, they evidently thought it a genius move guaranteed to win widespread applause and nods of enthusiastic approval from the public.

Do they genuinely believe that brain-fried junkies will miraculously reform and de-addict overnight with the threat of Big Daddy-o taking the cash? What exactly do Turnbull and his completely out-of-touch Cabinet believe the “ice junkies” are going to do when they can’t fund their habit?

When there are no tax dollars at hand, they’ll go to the tax-payers directly.

Cue an increase in crime, thefts, robberies and drug-fuelled violence from the tiniest minority of people who rely on welfare and can’t kick the drugs.

Cue an increase in down-on-their luck Aussies who are humiliated and belittled by being subject to mandatory drug testing so they can feed their families.

Drug testing those on welfare is nothing more than a nasty, punitive, vindictive attempt to satisfy the lust for “fairness” from those begrudging that they can’t rock up to work high as a kite. If the conversation is about fairness and equality, the Government would enforce mandatory drug testing in every occupation and industry, or at the very least, for every position funded by the tax-payer, including themselves.

And if the conversation is about “moral superiority”, every person who supports this rancid proposal would insist every employee in every business who takes their money in whatever form be subject to testing too. Buying fuel at the servo? Don’t pay until the cashier provides a swab of saliva. Hitting up the market for Aussie-grown beef? No cash until the farmer gives a clean urine sample.

Or is drug use and abuse acceptable as long as the addict is employed?

But it’s not about drug use, or abuse, or the personal habits of total strangers. And it’s not about the alleged unfairness of drug testing in the workplace, which is to do with safety, not thinly-veiled ideology. It’s bred from the perception that those on welfare are living in a fancy, fun-filled, drug-fueled euphoric bubble of happiness. By contrast, the same people are not dashing to quit their jobs to join the welfare-funded-party, and they rarely object to government-labelled-bad habits paid for with a weekly earned wage, no matter how big an eventual cost to the taxpayer.

Tobacco smoking, which is legal, is responsible for more drug-related hospitalisations and deaths than alcohol and illicit drugs combined. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey detailed report 2013 states that in 2010, “it was estimated that tobacco smoking was responsible for 8.3% of the burden of disease in Australasia, 2.7% was attributable to alcohol use and a further 2.6% was attributable to the use of illicit Drugs.”

Further, in 2013, 29.2% of the population aged 14 and over engaged in risky drinking in the previous 12 months, compared with 15% who took illicit drugs, and 12.8% who smoked tobacco daily. Of illicit drug use, more people misuse pharmaceutical drugs (4.7%) than use methamphetamines (2.1%).

Yet bashing the alleged drug-using-dole-bludger is a favoured sport of Australians, despite being three times more likely to be a victim of an alcohol-related incident than a victim of an illicit drug-related incident. It’s employed versus unemployed, rich versus poor, the-drug-of-choice-of-city-dwellers versus the-available-substances-for-the-rural-and-remote.

It’s the taxed demanding that they have a say on how public funds are spent, while demonising just a small percentage of the population, who, through circumstances unbeknown to the judger, are not employed.

Advocating for the imposition of paternalistic conditions on the poorest of Australians who are already below the poverty line under the guise of “helping” them, is pathetic.

The public does not get to choose where their taxes go, whether it be health, education, corporate benefits, infrastructure or politicians perks. Taxes fund all manner of vile and abominable purposes, for example federally funded religious schools using tax money to protect paedophiles, dropping bombs on the wrong fighters in Syria, torturing refugees on Manus Island and Nauru, and destroying the environment.

International examples have shown that drug testing for welfare does not achieve much at all, and costs a whole lot of money which could otherwise be used on medical and health-based interventions which do work, for example evidence-based drug prevention programs and medically supervised rehabilitation. Instead, the Government continues to treat drug use and abuse as a criminal matter, subjecting vulnerable and psychologically distressed people to punitive action.

In the absence of support and access to suitable rehabilitative measures, what options do those addicted to drugs have? Who will employ them while they struggle to overcome their demons? Where will they get the money from that they need to live, feed their families, and admittedly, buy their drugs?

Australians need to accept that some people are not suited to the workforce, either temporarily or permanently. It makes sense, socially and economically to support them financially, as unpalatable as the general working population may find it.

However there may be a silver lining for those who think it is too odious to grant these people social security. The consequences for those vulnerable people subject to the Government’s program who cannot kick the habit and are denied the help they need are predictable. Overdose or suicide.

And dead people don’t need welfare.


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  1. Michael Taylor

    If I see Barnaby’s beetroot head and glazed eyes from a skin full of booze in Parliament again I’ll scream. It’s appalling behaviour.

  2. Chris2017

    How do you test the pollies for self-indulgence, lack of genuine compassion and excessive verbal flatulence, let alone for consumer behavioural “tastes” that would get outsiders a great deal of opprobrium and jail time?

  3. david

    Its just a part of the process to bring in the Indue welfare card for every recipient of any type of Govt welfare 😉

  4. helvityni

    Start opening some professionally run, government financed rehabs, put the money were it has a chance to help people battling with drug addiction…

    Are those Liberals human beings , or some monsters that crawled out of the sea; something like this could only happen in Australia.

    Where does that urge to humiliate and punish originate from…?
    Some children in adult prisons, not to speak of horrors of Don Dale youth detention centre, or the hopelessness of Manus and Nauru….

  5. No WelfareCard SA (@FordfgFalcon)

    Interestingly Crime has increase in Kununurra and Wyndham if you review the orima report. you will find an admission of it hidden away.
    Apprehension of Public intoxication admissions to sobering up unit and assistance rendered to intoxicated or at risk individuals by the mobile assistance patrol in Ceduna have all increased. Domestic Violence is also reportedly increased but is attempted to be explained away by a hightened awareness of the need for it to be reported. A number of catagories of crime statistics have also increase for Ceduna which are being carefully ignored by the Minister and Commonwealth.
    Non Aggravated sexual Assault 25% increase
    Robbery and Related Offences 25% increase
    Aggravated robbery 14% increase
    Non aggrgrivated robbery 400% increase
    Serious Criminal trespass 4% increase
    serious criminal tresspess residential 17% increase
    Recieve or handle proceeds of crime 27% increase
    other theft 1% increase
    Obtain benefit by deception 48%
    other fraud and related offences 33% increase
    And for those of you who think its good for business you to are sadly mistaken
    with one local business telling State Parlamentarians at a community meeting that the card had cost him in excess of $120,000 dollars
    Heres the Video

    The Orima report is considered flawed by many academics that work in the field. A recent review by the Centre for Aboriginal economic policy and research an annex of the Australian national university produced a paper on some of its flaws follow the links from this page .
    Most damning of all, four of every five participants report none of the positive changes the cashless card is meant to encourage.
    More than a third of participants reported not engaging in any of the activities the trial focused on before it commenced.
    Fifty percent of participants say its made life worse and 68% in Ceduna and 78% in Kununurra have said they would not recomend the card.
    Costing around $10,000 to administer per participant the cashless debit card has proven to be one of the more expensive and inefficient experiments at a time the government is calling on greater financial restraint.
    It defies logic that government is now considering imposing this failed and expensive compulsory financial management system on more Australians.


  6. stephengb2014

    This article is very good except the almost universal but totally incorrect assumption that taxes are needed by government to buy anything or provide any government service.

    Look it is very clear in the RBA Act 1959 at Part IV that the RBA is the sole issuer of our currency, meaning that the Government must have made the money available before any person can possibly pay a single cent in tax. – Look it up.

    Not only that, it is clear that we as citizens cannot pay our taxes in any other currency than our legal currency.

    Come on folk its not rocket science!

  7. diannaart

    What is about so called “libertarian” conservative types, who screech “nanny-state” at any hint of corporate regulation, what makes them so self-righteously authoritarian?

    If I hear another wealthy, pampered RWNJ complain about taxes, regulations and ‘big’ government… well… I’ll be about as upset as I usually am.

    So there.

  8. Freetasman

    This heading in ABC make me really sick:
    Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull says drug testing welfare recipients and potentially managing their spending is “a policy based on love”.

  9. Michael Taylor

    Sorry, david, but for some reason your comments were caught up in spam. I noticed two in there, but as they were the same I didn’t worry about clearing both of them. Our apologies.

  10. paul walter

    Yes. It is not about helping people with problems but satisfying a sick urge for persecution and cruelty.

  11. Kaye Lee

    “Look it is very clear in the RBA Act 1959 at Part IV that the RBA is the sole issuer of our currency, meaning that the Government must have made the money available before any person can possibly pay a single cent in tax. – Look it up.”

    I never understand this statement which is made continually by proponents of MMT. When you talk about currency, do you mean actual physical notes and coins which no-one actually deals in anymore to pay debts? The RBA doesn’t determine how much money is in circulation. They are a bank. It is the government who creates money and our government chooses to do it by issuing bonds. The issuance of notes and coins is basically irrelevant to the amount of money circulating through the economy. I also do not in any way understand this notion that tax can only be paid in Australian dollars. I am fairly certain that if I was an American company with an Australian tax liability, they would let me just pay it electronically regardless of the currency of the institution where I held my account.

    MMT comes so close to convincing me, until they say stupid shit that makes no sense.

  12. havanaliedown

    It’s long overdue. I’m surprised that the panty-waist Turnbull wants to grow some hair on his chest after all this time. It must be the monstrous ex-drug squad copper Dutton having an influence upon the hapless Mal. Long may it continue.

  13. Sam

    What’s the almighty Sandra sully going to say to excuse this crap? According to her we all got something out of that budget and the opposition will have a hard time arguing against it….

  14. Kaye Lee

    “Dutton having an influence upon the hapless Mal. Long may it continue.”

    Dutton???? Really???? Any party that thinks Dutton is worth listening to deserves to be consigned to opposition. Dutton is as foolish and self-serving as it gets.

  15. helvityni

    “a policy based on love”.Yes Freetasman, incredibly corny…

    A cringe-worthy policy stew thought up by an ex-copper and a Shire-lifer, and Mal calls it ‘based on love”….

  16. corvus boreus

    The drug testing that would most benefit Australian society would be a mandatory screening for the presence of mind altering substances conducted on all elected parliamentarians prior to them entering either chamber, especially for voting sessions
    Such testing should be for both the levels of alcohol (specified legal limit), and also be calibrated to register the presence of a broad spectrum of illicit substances (including cocaine).
    Any members failing such a test should, at the very least, be barred from entering the chambers for the duration of that session..

    It is far more important to ensure the sobriety of the officers at the helm than that of the steerage passengers and bilge stowaways.

  17. havanaliedown

    Dutton’s star is rising. Torture yourself and listen to a few Ray Hadley podcasts – Ray piles on the man-love.

    I had a beer with Peter last year, he is a good listener and a top bloke. He has a lot to offer – who couldn’t love an ex-copper that spent years cracking the skulls of drug-dealing scum?

  18. Kaye Lee

    Ok now I know you are taking the piss. Please, by all means, spend the rest of your days having a beer with Dutton. Just keep him away from any form of authority. The man is a moron.

    Exhibit A – point of order on weirdness

  19. Halfbreeder

    the RBA doesnt just release notes and bills it also orders their production at the mint. but that does not mean it creates money only that it distributes it. the problem for MMT is that all money spent by the gov must be appropriated by vote of parliament from the consolidated revenue fund. the money then goes into reserve bank account for fed gov and is then distributed from there. Section 81 of The Constitution is the relevant provision. So unless parliament authorises the appropriation of funds from the consolidated revenue fund no money can he spent and only the amounts authorised to be appropriated by vote of parliament from the fund can he spent. MMT fails to see the legal contraints on gov spending and implies too much into the notion of a ‘sovereign currency issuer’. However, i have now found some case law that may assist in understanding this better and the stimulous package by Rudd gov was considered at law to he an urgent ‘special circumstance’ where the usual legal contraints were not considered to apply.

  20. Halfbreeder

    kaye. the rba is not just a bank like a savings or merchant bank it has othr responsibilities and powers eg in relation to the mint and monetary policy. ordinary banks dont do this.

  21. Halfbreeder

    MMT focuses on economics but fail to see the legal context in which the economy exists. the legal arrangements are contraints on what and what cannot be done. it is not simply an economic and financial argument or arrangemnent. The gov may wish to release trillions but if it does not go through the proper process the money released may be recalled or cancelled or may not be legal tender and it would be worthless.

  22. Kaye Lee

    I understand that the RBA has a special role. My problem is when MMTers conflate that role with government saying they are the same thing – that the RBA is just an arm of government. I am not so sure about your money recall assertion. I cannot see any reason why the government cannot just direct the RBA to credit an account with whatever amount and then balance the books by calling it e-seignorage, or capital introduced, or some other similar term. There are economic constraints on how far that could go – you can;t exceed your productive capacity without bad consequences – but there is no reason it can’t be done if done wisely to increase productivity rather than spending hundreds of billions on weapons of war that will never be used.

  23. keerti

    MMM! Now if I was on the dole and a dope smoker, it would be because I was growing my own or I knew someone who was! A solution to such a situation would then be to grow more, making more marijuana available. The end result…..A bigger cash economy, possibly richer growers and possibly cheaper dope…

  24. corvus boreus

    The Ray Hadley / Peter Dutton bromance is based upon a shared propensity for telling blatant lies using provocative language.
    No wonder havanaliedown (the bullshitting stalker-troll with a counterfeit face and stolen hair) is such a fan of both.

  25. paul walter

    So, another derail from the oddballs,

    The thread is about the government’s sado-economics, currently directed against the unemployed now that refugee -bashing has gone sour.

    What about a comment from them on the government’s mental pathology?

  26. havanaliedown

    “Refugee-bashing” gone sour you say? The pricks have stopped coming. I wonder why…

  27. Matters Not

    The pricks have stopped coming.

    Not true. You are still here.

  28. paul walter

    MN, when I was thinking about pathologies, I forgot to think of havana. Interesting example?

  29. Fee

    This is an attempt to drive ‘business’ to the cashless welfare card.
    Using those that the LNP assume to be universally despised by the public to further insinuate the welfare card into our society. It is not about saving money, it has been shown worldwide that drug testing is an expensive failure, it is not about getting people back into work, there are no jobs for them to go back to, it is certainly not about health outcomes for those that use drugs, it is simply about expanding the cashless welfare card & I would hazard a guess that the Liberals who sold Indue promised the purchasers that the card would be expanded by the government making their investment worthwhile.

  30. Halfbreeder

    kaye. all money spent by gov must be appropriated from the consolidated revenue fund pursuant to s 81 the Constitution. the gov can not simply add money to its account and spend it without permission of parliament. With some limited exceptions, all gov spending must be authorised by parliament in accordance with the Constitution otherwise a constitutional crisis will likely insue, the creation and spending of the money by the gov in th way you state would likely be unconstitutional. the question would then be ‘what would be the legal status of any money so created and released?’. would it be legal tender or would it need to be repaid to anyone for instance the reserve bank etc or would someon receiving the money be able to exchange it for xash at the reserve bank in settlement. also the reserve bank is autonomous to parliament and is empowered to have indepence and make certain decisions of gov. MMT is a bit simplistic as it only considers economic and financial arrangements out if context

  31. Matters Not

    KL – but the shares are so very cheap. Buy now. LOL.

    What was that story about Indue and Stargroup being fundraisers for the National Party? Fake news everywhere!

    Anyone want to buy a bridge?

  32. Halfbreeder

    ömatters not. dont recall the article said they were fundraisers. think it said they donate. donations to political parties are tax deductible should only have a positive outcome for share price. seems your comment is ‘ fake news’

  33. Kaye Lee


    I feel there are other things at play here. In March last year, Indue raised the possibility of becoming a bank.

    “As well as a possible initial public offering or takeover by another company, becoming a fully fledged bank is an option to boost its income because it already has a full banking licence.

    …. given it can already take deposits, a cheap source of funds, he could see an opportunity for Indue to lend these to build a much more profitable business.

    It only uses the licence to take deposits on its pre-paid cards for corporations and government clients such as the Department of Human Services.

    Mr Garcia has won a government contract to issue cards to welfare recipients in the Northern Territory and Western Australia that limits what they can buy to essential goods, and hopes it will be rolled out nationally.

    This could significantly boost profits on its own but it would still need additional capital, he said.

    The company made a $3.5 million profit in 2015 on revenue of almost $70 million. It paid its owners a dividend of $12 a share.”

    Whether Zani has the wherewithal to pursue this course is questionable but it is worth noting.

  34. diannaart


    One thing that CANNOT be claimed about them: “not ambitious”.

  35. Kronomex

    “Wow man, this book looks pink and the paper feels so funky. Oohh, that camera is pointing at me. Why is that…my mon’t my plips work, I fell hungry.” Then Malcolm realised that he wasn’t in his office but in parliament.

  36. Matters Not

    Halfbreeder tax deductions are useful when you make a profit. Until then … Check out its negative returns I posted yesterday

    Yes Indue did speculate about lots of things. Just the usual corporate bullshit. ‘Visions’ best described as ‘dreams’. Ever heard of Eddy Groves? Indue was sold lock stock and barrel for $6.5 million (eventually) to a company that had to beg and borrow to achieve same. Sorry $6.5 million is small change

    The company made a $3.5 million profit in 2015 on revenue of almost $70 million

    Not exactly a gold mine. Something in the order of 5%. BTW I suspect that Zani is a would be if could be. But every so often they get lucky, but I think I’ll stick to the POKIES. LOL

  37. Halfbreeder

    horses still better MN….that is, unless ur on the welfare card then neither pokies or horses are possible.

  38. Halfbreeder

    indues 3.5 mill profit after payment of exhorbant executive salaries as part of the wage bill? have thought for sometime now that there should be a limit on the amount of salaries and fees paid to executives and board members that can be included as a deductible item for tax purposes. same as Shorty is proposing on management of tax affairs. shareholders would use this as a means of controlling those costs.

  39. Matters Not

    Halfbreeder, I have ‘problems’ with the ‘welfare card’ but it’s counterproductive to make claims that are simply untrue. For example:

    on the welfare card then neither pokies or horses are possible

    For a start, there’s 20% that’s available as cash. (And that can be extended to 50% if you can ‘make a case’.)

    To expend 20% on pokies or horses is significant – but it is still possible.

    Making false claims only undermines credibility. Not helpful! And at so many levels.

  40. Kaye Lee

    That 20% amounts to less than $8 a day for everything for which you may have to pay cash.

  41. silkworm

    We do not know which drugs they will be targeting, nor do we know what tools will be used to profile suspected drug users. And considering that illicit drug use will be targeted, and that illicit drugs are, well, illicit, will those determined to be using illicit substances be reported to the police?

    Who will administer the test? Will they be medically trained? How much will this cost?

  42. Halfbreeder

    as metholated spirits and orange juice can be purchased on the welfare card, which when mixed is refered to as the ‘derros cocktail’, i doubt the welfare card would have any effect on serious alcohol abuse. In fact it could make the problem worse. also cough mixture is a commonly abused substance that can also be obtained as can petrol for sniffing purposes. In other words, this card is bs and could exassebate drug and alcohol problems by forcing people into more dangerous substitutes. does someone need to die before we are rid of it?

  43. diannaart

    I like to believe anyone operating any form of large machinery from airliners to forklifts are as clear headed as it is possible to be.

    A few unemployed, sitting around enjoying a few tokes on a joint should not bother anyone.

    Of course abuse of drugs is an ever present problem for people in ALL walks of life. I do not see how testing unemployed for illicit (why not licit?) drugs solves anything apart from further disenfranchising the least powerful.

    Of course, conservatives only know about the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  44. Kaye Lee

    The drug testing trial will use saliva tests “similar to those used by roadside police”, according to the government. These tests have been criticised for targeting marijuana, ecstasy and methamphetamines, cheaper drugs used commonly by those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, while not detecting cocaine, heroin or other drugs which are more expensive. Wodak said the tests may encourage drug users to shift their consumption habits.

    “These tests have a bad record of serious unintended consequences. People switch to drugs not being tested for. People will realise that smoking cannabis has a long half-life [for showing up in tests] and switch from cannabis, which has fewer problems, to synthetic cannabis or other more serious drugs,” he said.

  45. Halfbreeder

    as metholated spirits and orange juice can be purchased on the welfare card, which when mixed is refered to as the derros cocktail, i doubt the welfare card would have any effect on serious alcohol abuse. In fact it could mke the problem worse. also cough mixture is a commonly abused substance can also be obtained as can petrol for sniffing purposes. In other words, this card is bs and could exassebate drug and alcohol problems by forcing people into more dangerous substitutes. does someone need to die before we are rid of it.

  46. silkworm

    “Stargroup’s remarkable transformation from a small time ATM machine operator to a totally vertically integrated, ASX listed outfit with ownership up and down the ATM value chain is now complete. The latest chapter in the company’s aggressive growth strategy saw the completion of the acquisition of Indue Ltd’s substantial ATM machine servicing assets last week in what looks to be a well negotiated deal.

    … now with the acquisition of Indue’s assets, the company is able to settle, switch, process and wirelessly monitor ATM machine transactions for other operators….

    Stargroup … will now process 16m transactions annually….”

  47. fa

    Such a well-written, intelligent piece that at times borders on hilarity because of the utter absurdity of this proposal. Great job, Eva Cripps.

  48. diannaart

    Thanks Silkworm, you beat me to it.

    All power to all the Myfanwy’s!

  49. Kronomex

    Stand around the doors at the MP’s bar after they all bolt for drinkies when parliament has finished for the day and breath in the fumes. You’ll be tanked in no time at all.

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