One of the more polarizing topics from Tuesday’s 2017/18 budget is the plan to start drug testing young Australians seeking welfare. Treasurer Scott Morrison announced that from January 1, 2018, around 5000 people applying for Newstart and Youth Allowance payments will be chosen at random to undergo drug tests for cannabis, ecstasy and methamphetamines.
Now ScoMo has revealed that his party will decide where to conduct these trials by testing sewage water – faecal profiling – to weed out areas of high drug use in the nation. This sounds gross, sure, but wastewater tests are actually widely used internationally as a tool to measure and interpret drug use. In June 2016, the Minister for Justice Michael Keenan approved $3.6 million in funds to develop a National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program. Its first report basically all but confirmed that Aussies love a good gurn.
Of the 18 countries with comparable reported data for MDMA, cocaine, amphetamine and methylamphetamine, Australia has the “second highest total estimated consumption overall.” Special shout-out to WA for having the highest levels of meth in the nation.
Welfare seekers in this trial will be subjected to saliva, urine and hair follicle tests. If they test positive for any illicit substances, their funds will be cut, and will only be accessible via a cashless debit card. If they test positive a second time, they will be referred to a medical professional for assessment.
Discussing the idea of calls to drug test politicians, ScoMo responded: “Show me the bag, I’ll blow in it… Happy to.”