Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Page: 2278

Illicit Drugs

Mr MORTON (Tangney) (15:05): My question is to the Minister for Social Services. Will the minister update the House on action the coalition government is taking to keep welfare payments out of the hands of drug dealers? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Mr TEHAN (WannonMinister for Social Services) (15:05): I thank the member for Tangney for his question. Anyone who has listened to his maiden speech or other contributions in this parliament knows that he has a very personal interest in the welfare space. As all members know, this government is creating 1,100 jobs a day. We want to make sure that everyone in society who can work is taking advantage of this unprecedented economic growth. We also want to make sure that welfare payments aren't subsidising drug dealers. Today the government reintroduced legislation where we will seek to implement a trial to help people who are suffering from substance abuse problems get off welfare, get treatment, get rehabilitation and get a job. We're doing this because research has shown that one of the worst barriers to getting a job is substance abuse. As the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's 2016 National Drugs Strategy Household Survey has shown, illicit drug use is more prevalent amongst the unemployed than amongst the employed. Those who are unemployed are three times as likely to use methamphetamines.

Importantly, the drug-testing trial is complemented by the government's other substance abuse measures. This includes a measure where, for the first time, jobseekers are able to undertake drug or alcohol treatment as an approved activity in their job plan. Since the commencement of this measure, on 1 January, 259 jobseekers have had drug or alcohol treatment included in their job plan. We want to make sure that we're helping people to help themselves. We want to make sure that we're putting the policies in place that mean people have a real opportunity, a real chance, to benefit from the jobs growth that we are seeing in this country.

All our measures, when it comes to the economy, are about jobs growth or economic growth. When it comes to those of a working age, we want to make sure that all our measures are helping all those people, especially those less fortunate who are suffering from substance abuse, whether it be drug abuse or alcohol abuse, to benefit from this unprecedented jobs growth. I say to those opposite: I would like to work with you to get this trial up and running. We've got $1 million for an evaluation so we can get it right, because we want to help everyone benefit from the 1,100 jobs a day we are creating.