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Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Page: 8755

Illicit Drugs


Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (14:39): My question without notice is directed to the Attorney-General and Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Brandis. I refer the senator to a Parliamentary Library brief I commissioned which states, in part:

(a) drug testing for welfare applicants and recipients has been proposed by governments in the UK and Canada.

(b) the idea has been discussed in Australia but so far the current federal government has ruled it out and has put it back in the two-hard basket.

(c) there are no obvious constitutional obstacles to introducing drug testing for income support recipients in Australia.

Will the government support testing for illicit drugs for income support recipients in Australia?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:40): Senator Lambie, thank you for raising the issue. It is an important issue. The government keeps the criteria for eligibility for welfare payments under review at all time, but the government has no present intention to legislate in that respect.


Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (14:40): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Will the government support testing for illicit drugs or alcohol for members of parliament and public servants?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:41): Senator Lambie, I understand that in certain circumstances there are arrangements, at least in some of the public services in this country, for forms of drug testing. Details of those arrangements in various state public services I am not able to tell you. The government is not proposing to introduce such arrangements for members of parliament.


Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (14:41): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I thank the Attorney-General for making it quite clear that he is not going to lead by example in this country. Will the government support testing for illicit drugs or alcohol for members of the parliamentary media gallery?

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order, on both sides!



Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:41): Senator Lambie, you sorely tempt me but I am going to resist the temptation to engage in some badinage with you.