Politics

The Government’s Dumb Plan To Drug Test Welfare Recipients Has Finally Been Killed Off

Hey, at least they got to demonise poor people!

The federal government has quietly dropped its plans to drug test welfare recipients after Social Services Minister Christian Porter admitted it would not pass the senate.

The government had hoped to begin a trial of the program, that would have seen 5,000 Newstart recipients in NSW, Queensland and WA tested for drugs as a condition of continuing government support, in January.

The plan was widely opposed by a number of groups, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and former Australian of the Year, Patrick McGorry, who specialises in mental health issues.

The AMA called the measure “mean and stigmatising”, while McGorry branded it an “absolute disgrace”.

The plan was also opposed by Labor, the Greens, and the Nick Xenophon Team, leaving the government without enough crossbench support to pass the measure.

Speaking on Sky News this morning, Porter said the government would drop the trial from an “omnibus” welfare bill currently before the Senate. He refused to confirm if the government would attempt to pass the measure separately, but it’s unlikely it would gain enough support in the current Senate.

The Senate will debate the rest of the welfare reforms today.

But Hey, At Least The Government Got To Demonise Poor People

The drug testing program was one of the key measures to come out of the government’s budget in May.

On Budget morning, Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph was given the scoop on the trial, blasting it all over the front page.

The next day The Tele again bragged about “bludger drug tests”, saying “stoners and drunks” would “lose the dole”.

Daily Telegraph

That’s all the government really wanted from this policy.

The program was never about raising revenue or actually helping people on welfare. Similar programs trialled around the world have all failed, as the government was repeatedly told by, y’know, experts.

This was just an attempt to throw some “red meat” to the Liberal party’s conservative voters, who think Malcolm Turnbull is a bit of an inner-city lefty who’s too soft on “bludgers”.

In that sense, it’s been incredibly successful. The government got to spend some time demonising poor people, calling them bludgers and suggesting they just sit around all day smoking pot.

Now, as the end of the year draws near and most people’s attention is on the cricket, the government has quietly dropped the plan, hoping that most people won’t notice.