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representatives vote 2018-08-13#1

Edited by mackay

on 2019-05-09 14:16:30


  • Bills — Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trial) Bill 2018; Second Reading
  • Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trial) Bill 2018 - Second Reading - Agree with bill's main idea


  • <p class="speaker">Milton Dick</p>
  • <p>In continuation regarding this bill today I was commenting about remarks made by the Director of the Department of Addiction Medicine at St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne in direct relation to impact of this bill. I place on the record again what Associate Professor Yvonne Bonomo said in her remarks regarding this bill. I hope those opposite are listening carefully, because she said:</p>
  • <p class="italic">Pushing people to the brink won't make it better.</p>
  • The majority voted in favour of a [motion]( to agree with the main idea of the [bill](;query=Id:legislation/billhome/r6065). In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read the bill [for a second time]( This meas that they can now discuss the bills in more detail.
  • ### What is the bill's main idea?
  • The [bill was introduced](;query=Id:legislation/billhome/r6065) *"to establish a two year drug testing trial in three regions for 5000 new recipients of newstart allowance and youth allowance from 1 July 2018"*.
  • <p>We know that the government has not even announced the cost of this, nor do they know the detail of what types of tests will be conducted. I again ask for the evidence. Where is it? Where is the detail? When considering new trials such as these we can often look to other countries who have implemented similar programs to gauge their success, but on this occasion what we find is not success but rather a track record of this system simply not working. That's what the experts at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians have to say about this:</p>
  • <p class="italic">In 2013, the New Zealand government instituted a drug testing program &#8230; among welfare recipients. In 2015, only 22 (0.27 per cent) of 8,001 beneficiaries tested returned a positive result for illicit drug use or refused to be tested. This detection rate was much lower than the proportion of the population estimated to be using illicit drugs in New Zealand &#8230; Similar results were found in the United States &#8230; In Utah, 838 of the state's 9,552 welfare applicants were screened with 29 returning a positive result.</p>
  • <p>That's just 0.3 per cent. These were costly initiatives that simply drove people into poverty and crime.</p>
  • <p>This bill has also been the subject of a Community Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry, which recently handed down its report. This included a statement from Clinical Associate Professor Adrian Reynolds, an expert in addiction medicine, who said that the drug-testing trial is:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#8230; unlikely to bring about any sustained changes in patients' drug use behaviours and may even be counterproductive.</p>
  • <p>Again, I hope those opposite are listening. Drug and alcohol addiction experts have said this measure may be counterproductive. Associate Professor Adrian Reynolds went further and told the committee:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#8230; this drug testing trial is clinically inappropriate and not designed in a way that will address the issues of substance dependence.</p>
  • <p>Expert after expert has shared similar views. The report also included the following statement about the cost:</p>
  • <p class="italic">Labor Senators on the Committee are concerned that the Government has not revealed details about the cost of the proposed drug testing trial and have serious concerns based on international experiences and the stated cost of testing in Australia, that the drug testing trial will be very expensive to administer and represent poor value for taxpayers.</p>
  • <p>The experts are not coming forward to back the claim of those opposite, who like to cloak themselves in responsibility and responsible behaviour. In fact not one expert has come forward for this. The report went on:</p>
  • <p class="italic">The Committee heard evidence that the funds for treatment to be provided for the Government were insufficient to meet the current need, let alone the increased demand that is expected to be generated by the drug testing trial.</p>
  • <p>Through the committee we also learned that my own home state of Queensland is:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#8230; about $75 million short of what would be considered an adequate treatment system to meet the needs of those people who voluntarily want to enter the system.</p>
  • <p>and:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#8230; this figure does not take in to account an amount to enable services to meet increased demand.</p>
  • <p>The evidence is simply overwhelmingly against this piece of legislation, but perhaps none more so than the tragic story told to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee by Mr Matthew Noffs, from the Ted Noffs Foundation, about an 18-year-old girl. He says:</p>
  • <p class="italic">She was raped by her father repeatedly since the age of four. She was then forced to become a sex worker at 14. By 16, she was using ice to get by. She is continuing to use ice at 18 and she is on the dole.</p>
  • <p class="italic">This is the only thing that is keeping her alive. The drug is the one thing that is keeping her alive. She had broken countless laws by the time she was a teenager. She doesn't care about being arrested for this &#8230; She will find any which way that she can.</p>
  • <p>It is stories like this that show the government's misunderstanding of the issue. The Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Andrew Laming</p>
  • <p>Try it!</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Milton Dick</p>
  • <p>I will take the objection from the member for Bowman, who is from the LNP in Queensland. They savagely cut health funding from front-line doctors and nursing. When the LNP were in state government, they closed centres in my own electorate, like the Barrett Adolescent Centre. Are you going to apologise for that? No, he is saying he is not apologising for that. I say: read the report. The member for Bowman should read the report about the impact of what the Newman administration did about the closing of those centres. Read the report. Take the advice from experts. Stop coming in here and pretending you know the world when you don't. Time and time again&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="italic">Mr Laming interjecting&#8212;</p>
  • <p>This is the member still defending these savage cuts, the millions of dollars worth of cuts under the Newman administration. We see the disrespect shown to the medical fraternity&#8212;doctors, nurses&#8212;by people like the member for Bowman. They never apologised for those savage cuts to front-line services.</p>
  • <p class="italic">Mr Laming interjecting&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Kevin Andrews</p>
  • <p>The member for Bowman will desist.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Milton Dick</p>
  • <p>And you wonder why you were thrown out of office. You wonder why the people of Queensland saw through your litany of cuts.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Andrew Laming</p>
  • <p>I think we're in office.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Milton Dick</p>
  • <p>I'm talking about Queensland&#8212;keep up. You wonder the LNP were comprehensively rejected in the Longman by-election. They were wiped out because of their savage cuts to front-line services. They then come in here and want to lecture anyone about health funding. Take a lesson from what's happened in Queensland, about the disgraceful performance by the LNP.</p>
  • <p>We know that residents who are selected for testing will be notified of a requirement to attend an appointment with the Department of Human Services. At this appointment, they will be notified of a requirement to provide a sample of saliva, urine or hair for the purpose of a drug test. Testing will be undertaken by a contracted third-party provider. Recipients who fail to attend this appointment will have their payments suspended. Should a jobseeker refuse&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="italic">Mr Laming interjecting&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Kevin Andrews</p>
  • <p>Order! The member for Bowman will desist or leave the chamber.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Milton Dick</p>
  • <p>He doesn't like the truth. He doesn't like the fact that I'm pointing out that his party has cut vital health funds in Queensland, in his own state. He knows it is this time again; it is the walk of shame while he scurries out of this chamber, because he knows what I'm saying is correct. We know that the government can't provide the costs. We know it. The government either doesn't know it themselves or won't say. These people are already doing it tough. The people who the government are victimising as a result of this legislation are only going to be pushed further into poverty by this government, who appears to be hell-bent on sending them there. This government's ignorance of the experts is simply astounding. We've heard reports that the trial could put Centrelink staff at risk of aggression and violence as they attempt to enforce surprise drug testing on participants.</p>
  • <p>In closing, I would like to quote the Royal Australian College of Physicians and the Australasian Chapter of Addiction Medicine, who said the following:</p>
  • <p class="italic">The RACP and AChAM are concerned that these measures are not based on evidence of what works&#8212;either at a policy or a clinical level.</p>
  • <p class="italic">In our view, they will not only fail to achieve the Bill's stated aim of assisting people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction to access treatment and secure employment, but will harm an already vulnerable group of people and increase their social and financial disadvantage.</p>
  • <p>To the government sitting in the chamber today, I urge them to reconsider their ill-fated stance taken on this important issue and the harm that it will inflict on vulnerable Australians, families and communities. We know that there is not a single piece of evidence that suggests this policy will do anything but cause harm. I'm proud to say that Labor and myself will not be supporting this bill.</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>