Drug testing for welfare payments is a retrograde step


Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (FFDLR) is appalled at the government’s retrograde step of linking drug tests to welfare payments in last night’s budget.  This was further compounded by the PM’s response on Radio National this morning –  when questioned about this issue he responded with the trite comment “Don’t do drugs”!

“Our organisation can provide first hand testimony of family members who have died from drug overdoses”, said Peter Taylor, President, Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform.  “These people were often struggling to make their way in the world.  For the most part their lives were not working due to their addictions, but they were working hard to change their circumstances.  How much more difficult will it be for them when faced with an added worry that if they slip, and take drugs, and are found out then life will be even harder”, added Peter Taylor.

“The real economic savings are to be made by putting more money into treatment, treatment based on a health response not a criminal response, and to turn around the great human potential that is currently being wasted.  The “tough on drugs” approach repeatedly has been shown to fail but unfortunately the simplistic moral approach is still with us.  FFDLR has been advocating for over twenty years that an evidence based health response gets better results than a moral punitive one.  This has been demonstrated overseas.  The cross party parliamentary summit on drugs in Canberra last year, that comprised many of our leading drug researchers, came to similar conclusions.

“It is disheartening in the extreme to see our current leaders going against such a tide of expertise and knowledge by targeting those struggling the most in society.  Surely Australia can do better!”