Scott Morrison has just churned through his summary of this years’ budget in Parliament – and while there’s a lot to dig through, a few things stand out already.
One which was big enough for ScoMo to chuck into the main speech is actually quite a radical change: the government is introducing drug testing for welfare recipients in the form of a 5,000 person trial:
If you’re a welfare recipient, this isn’t a good Budget for you. People deemed “at risk” of substance abuse will be required to undertake random drug testing – including saliva, urine and hair follicle tests in three locations as of next year. Those who test positive will have their welfare payments quarantined.
The two trial sites will be announced at a later date. The test will screen for cannabis, methamphetamine and ecstasy. The trial will commence on the 1st of January and run for two years.
It is expected 450 people per year will be knocked off the Disability Support Pension Scheme on the basis of drug and alcohol abuse alone.
The cashless welfare card – which quarantines 80 per cent of welfare payments and cannot pay for liquor, gambling or be used to withdraw cash – has been trialled in several Aboriginal-majority areas, and it will be expanded.
It has faced a great deal of criticism from those who have been subjected to it, who describe feeling disempowered and suffering a reduced quality of life and lack of autonomy.
The trial locations for welfare drug testing haven’t been announced, but it’ll be surprising if it isn’t regional, low-income communities and those with large Aboriginal populations – as they’ve been targeted by government in the past. Absolute shocker who gets to feel the government’s boot first.
Again, issues of drug dependency are tackled punitively – the same way we’ve been doing it for decades and decades with little end in sight. How about it.