DRUG TESTING FOR GLADSTONE: Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd.
DRUG TESTING FOR GLADSTONE: Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd. Paul Braven GLA250615LARCOM

O'Dowd pushes drug tests for dole in Gladstone

KEN O'Dowd will advocate for Gladstone to be included as one of the trial sites when the Federal Government moves to drug test welfare recipients next year.

The Flynn MP signalled strong support for the policy this week, saying drug and alcohol abuse was a key contributor to people not getting back to work.

"I'm proud to be part of a government helping people get off drugs and into work," Mr O'Dowd said.

"It is about time we got rid of the mindset of low expectations and gave these poor people a chance in life. That can't happen without breaking the cycle."

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Under the trial program, 5000 new Youth Allowance and Newstart recipients in three trial locations across the country will be subjected to random drug testing as part of their application.

Anyone who fails the first test will have their welfare payments "quarantined" to a cashless debit card, which they will not be able to use to buy drugs or alcohol.

Further test failures will mean welfare recipients are referred to a doctor.

"This trial is not about catching people out, it is about identifying those who need assistance and helping them get that assistance," Mr O'Dowd said.

"I think the new system will be successful in a number of ways and I will certainly be advocating for Gladstone to be included as one of the three trial sites across Australia."

The policy also found some local support from a Narcotics Anonymous Gladstone member.

"In the long run it would help them to get off the drugs," he said.

The long-time NA member, who requested not to be named, said he didn't think people in Gladstone realised how many drug users they knew in their day-to-day lives.

"It's not just your homeless people or people on Centrelink," he said.

"There are very professional people that have problems... mums, people with families.

"If Gladstone was chosen for this program and they put the stats in the paper... more people might come together and help organisations like ours who are trying to get people off drugs."

But the NA member said some heavier drug users could turn to crime to feed their habit if they faced the prospect of receiving less cash.

"It would definitely be something (the government) would have to keep a close eye on," he said.

"I know that someone who's in the midst of a heavy addiction would do anything to get the fix.

"People that have been abusing drugs for numerous years... would steal off their own parents, their own kids.

"But in the long run, for every bad person this might lead to crime, two or three people are going to pull their heads in because they want their money."



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