Could the Government start drug testing age pensioners?

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The Australian Government’s proposed random drug test trial for welfare recipients, announced during Budget 2017/18, could be the first step a slippery slope according to Greens leader Richard Di Natale.

Treasurer Scott Morrison announced last week that he wants 5000 people on Newstart or Youth Allowance to undergo random drug testing in three locations from January next year.

The Government will collect saliva, hair follicles and urine samples to test for traces of drugs including ecstasy, marijuana and ice. If drugs are detected, the user could find their welfare quarantined.

During his Budget reply, Greens leader Di Natale outlined that this harsh and prescriptive treatment of welfare recipients may not stop at the young and unemployed.

“If we open this gateway to government applying a morality test for government support, what is next?” Di Natale asked. “We are setting a very dangerous precedent.

“Imagine failing a drug test because you take a pill at a festival or smoke a joint and losing your HECS funding as a result. Imagine losing access to Medicare or the pension.

“It is a dangerous move by the government, and there is no way it will pass the Senate on our watch.”

Drug counsellors and social service experts have also attacked the welfare proposals, warning that the measures will do little to help the vulnerable and risk driving them to further despair.

Mary Ellen Harrod, the CEO of the NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) and a board member of the Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL), wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald that the measures could have catastrophic consequences for drug users.

“The evidence tells us social exclusion and punishment are exactly the wrong ways to treat people who experience issues with drug use,” Ms Harrod wrote.

“Targeting people who use drugs with punishments such as the ones proposed by the Treasurer pushes them further to the margins of society and increases the already heavy stigma associated with illicit drug use.”

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie suggested in the wake of the Budget that she would support the drug-testing measures but believes they should be extended to politicians.

“These people up here (Canberra) are paid by the taxpayer as well,” she told Sky News.

“Start leading by example. I don’t see random drug-testing on that side of the house, or the Senate side of the house, when you walk in. Why can’t that be done?”

There are also questions being raised about the cost-effectiveness of the drug-testing scheme and the Government did not release the costings for the proposal, saying they were ‘commercial in-confidence’.

Opinion: Stigmatising welfare recipients is the wrong approach

The Government’s newest attack on welfare recipients smacks of good politics over good policy.

The Government gets to demonise jobseekers while looking like it is getting tough on drug addicts in a cynical exercise that will only exacerbate the problem.

Fortunately, voters appear far too clever to fall for this trick. All of the post-Budget opinion polls show no bounce for the Government, despite several measures that the majority of voters think are fair and reasonable.

A Guardian poll showed 69 per cent support for drug testing jobseekers on Newstart allowance, which is a clear majority, but still a lot lower than what we may have expected.

That is mainly because people are a lot more aware these days that drug addiction is a serious problem, and there are no quick fixes.

As Greens leader Richard Di Natale, who has worked as a drug and alcohol clinician, pointed out in his Budget reply, people addicted to drugs are already at rock bottom.

“By the time someone is addicted to an illicit drug they have often lost their job. Their marriage has often broken-down. They have no contact with their family and they might even have contracted a disease like hepatitis C. They might be living out of their car or on the streets. If all of that is not enough to stop someone from using drugs, what fool thinks that taking away income support is going to succeed?” Di Natale asked.

It is clear that the Government hasn’t introduced this measure to help drug addicts, but rather to try and make the prospect of applying for welfare so unappealing that they don’t bother.

This stigmatising of people on welfare starts with jobseekers, but it doesn’t take long before it starts extending to other forms of welfare, such as the age pension.

If it ever does get that far how will we deal with the issues such as the abuse of prescription medication and medicinal marijuana?

Do you support the drug testing of welfare recipients? Should the Government extend its trial to cover all welfare recipients?

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Written by Ben

333 Comments

Total Comments: 333
  1. 0
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    Have to thoroughly agree. Even taking a pill at a music festival is illegal. If anyone. ANYONE. Tests positive to illegal drugs they should lose their benefits . Di Natalie might love to help prop up this scourge on our society, but he should do so I his money, not benefits. Politicians should also undergo random drugs tests

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      I agree prescription drugs are some of the worst thanks to the influence of big pharma. Australia must have some of the most expensive urine in the world where 99% of the drugs taken are just flushed down the toilet.

      What they don’t tell us is that most road accidents are caused by people taking prescription medications or driving tired due tot eh effects of such medications.

      Next time a doctor gives you a prescription ask yourself do I really need it or has the doctor just given it to me so I don’t feel short changed? I think the later is the real reason inmost cases.

    • 0
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      Get a grip opn yourselves, stop making sweeping ill informed statements, many prescription drugs have no addictive or pain killing components they actually help the patient get over a specific problem. Don’t be lazy, go to the detail of what you are attempting to say.

    • 0
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      As a Registered nurse all my life i find many double standards and hypocrisy abounds with the taking of drugs. Believe me there are many professionals and business people including doctors and nurses who use or have used drugs. I’m sure they dont see themselves as a scourge on society. There are many reasons why a person takes drugs including stress ,depression despair and anxiety to name a few. Its a complex problem. Sometimes with young people it may have been peer pressure but its extremely difficult to get off the slippery slope once addicted. It may have led to loss of a job. To persecute these people does not solve the problem. Remember though the only difference between those on newstart and other drug users may just be money and power.

    • 0
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      This drug testing nonsense is this Government’s evil agenda of getting rid of the dole and pensions.

      The Labor party brought in the pensions, dole, medicare, free public education, fair work rights and conditions with the unions.

      The Liberal party’s only agenda has been to abolish these rights to benefit the tax avoiding rich and the corporates.

    • 0
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      If you think that there are other than a very small handful of retirees on drugs I’d be willing to bet that this is nothing other than a load of hogwash.
      There is not a problem amongst retirees and this is not going to happen. This is a total beat up and sad that a ‘story’ is being built around a house of cards.

    • 0
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      Making drugs legal would wipe out the criminals getting rich from drugs and would put an end to the problem.

      Portugal’s Example: What Happened After It Decriminalised All Drugs, From Weed to Heroin 16 Years Ago.

      https://news.vice.com/article/ungass-portugal-what-happened-after-decriminalization-drugs-weed-to-heroin

      This government would not be interested because they are all for anyone that makes lots of money whether that be legal or illegal.

    • 0
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      jackie decriminalising drugs does not make the problem of drug addiction go away at all. People still take the drugs they want where they want when they want. I agree it reduces the drug-lords’ income. However, please note from your own referenced article:

      “Drugs are still illegal in Portugal, drug dealers and traffickers are still sent to jail, and the country has carefully kept itself within the confines of the UN’s drug convention system that inform national drug laws.”

      It is not the Utopian solution many people think.

    • 0
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      I agree with all of Jackie’s comments. Why waste money on drug testing when it should be going to rehab clinics, there are many people who want to get off drugs and cannot find the support especially those who have no family support. Getting drug takers off the dole will only send them to homelessness and crime and will not see them become better citizens and charity organizations will be overwhelmed,as most are already. Home invasion will magnify as people become more desperate. Rehabilitation and support, let’s not become a communist country, where will it end if we go down this path.

    • 0
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      Oh Jackie, you poor deluded person. It is the Labor party who are now blocking every social advancement on the books for nothing more than political reasons. They have no fiscal plans which will resolve anything but keep that quiet. The old ‘tax the rich’ is long past it’s use by date – when happens when the rich get fed up and take themselves and taxable income overseas?
      >
      It is no defence to believe taking the dole of drug users will create more crime – much of the petty crime is already committed by drug users with full dole payments.
      >
      I was on the dole 30 years ago and how did I manage….I paid my rent, fed my family spent most of my days door knocking for jobs, and if I had a couple of dollars left before dole day then I might treat my kids to Maccas or if I had enough, treat all of us.
      >
      What I didn’t do was drink as much of my dole on dole day as I could or shove it up my nose or into my arm and then bang on the dole office door crying…….

    • 0
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      I agree, all politicians should also be subjected to drug tests every 6 months. In addition they should also be subjected to psychopath and sociopath tests before all elections.

    • 0
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      The only thing Di Natale is worried about is that it may come to pass that politicians also have to submit to drug testing and all the Green MP’s would fail.
      A lot of people in various types of employment from police officers to mine and railway workers are subject tom drug testing as a condition of their employment so what is wrong with having recipients of unemployment benefits and similar welfare payments subject to those same tests? It would be a good thing in my opinion to weed out the career dole bludgers who believe the government owes them a living.

    • 0
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      What a narrow minded comment ‘Gra’ saying ‘all the Green MP’s would fail. So ignorant.

    • 0
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      Reeper: you really are a simple minded soul. You might at least look at some facts before you post your normal right wing BS. Consider:

      http://thenewdaily.com.au/money/work/2017/05/16/highest-paid-industries-australia/?utm_source=Responsys&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20170517_TND

      As you will see it is THE COALITION which has been running up debt. Labor was actually reducing debt when the media propaganda machine ran it out of office. Don’t believe me. The figures are there for you to call them ‘leftist’ if you like.

      And then we have the blatant Class Warfare which both the Abbott and Turnbull governments have been running. In case you looked the other way we are getting tax cuts for the wealthy and a whole raft of NEW taxes for average citizens under the name of ‘budget repair’. This is the next lie, one of many.

      Please do us all a favour, research before you post. I guess you’ll be falling back on that other chestnut of school halls and pink batts. Not much anywhere else to go with the current government. Decent Australians would not touch it with a 10 foot pole but the mentally challenged will likely not let the facts get in the way of supporting their political footy team. Sad.

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      I agree with you 100 per cent, HS, especially psychopathic and sociopathic testing.

    • 0
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      @Musiveg the Greens fail at everything. They are a menace to society.

    • 0
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      I’m proud to say I don’t vote for Labor, LNP or Greens…

      Gra – what would be the point of drug and alcohol testing social security recipients? It’s hardly likely to affect their work performance is it? And if you can’t tell over the counter that they are unfit for a job interview – why are you in the business?

      And that’s only for unemployment beneficiaries – why test pensioners at all unless they are work seekers or on DSP and looking for work… what possible difference could it make to an aged pensioner?

    • 0
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      Ditto TREBOR.

    • 0
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      No it will not happen !!
      The only time aged pensioners may, or will be drug tested, is at a random alcohol and or drug testing site by the police.
      The same as every person behind a wheel.
      And amen to that.

    • 0
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      Ella, Having worked in the health section I agree there are a lot of doctors and nurses who have drug problems. You can go further and say the same about people in the forces, the police etc. In fact in most areas of life.
      IF the government wants to bring this in them it should APPLY to everyone, including them! [although I still say it is an invasion of privacy]
      It is discrimination to only select a certain group of people regardless of who they are.

    • 0
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      Politicians should be drug tested too, and also for alcohol, listened to a host on TV talking to a panel and he said the breath of some of the pollies he had as guests would knock you over and these are the people making decisions that effect the whole country.

  2. 0
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    We had to drug test some clients and it became very expensive so only used it when absolutely necessary. I think it’s money wasted here.

  3. 0
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    The mutual obligation for someone on Newstart receiving other taxpayers money is that they are actively looking for work. That’s not an unreasonable request. As Richard D Natali says if that person is addicted to drugs then its likely they are not fulfilling their obligations. These drugs test can identify those people and give them the opportunity to enter a drug rehabilitation program, again provided by the taxpayer. If someone does not want to take up the opportunities provided for them, it may be harsh but sometimes you have to leave people to their own fate. Australian’s are extremely generous but the taxpayer can’t be expected to carry everyone if they are not willing to contribute to help their own situation.
    Too often now people think everything is a right when in fact its a privilege, bestowed by others in the community, and can and should be removed if people choose to abuse it.

    • 0
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      They are not receiving someone else’s money, Phil – they are taxpayers paying themselves… give them a job and their contribution to the communal pot will be larger…. but at the moment they are down on their luck so as a civilised society we share, as we were taught as children.

      Mutual obligation would be all well and good if those demanding it could guarantee a decent living wage job for being good… otherwise it’s just plain bullying by one side of the equation.

    • 0
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      Re Old Geezer’s repeated comment re “urine being the most expensive in the world” he has lifted that comment from doctors talking about vitamin pills not prescription drugs. Take note most of the prescription drugs for the “elderly” are probably on the PBS and relatively cheap

    • 0
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      Think again. I helped sort out some stuff belonging to an old lady that died. She had a couple of packets of prescription medication unopened. I decided to have a closer look at them. Each packet had 12 tablets and the real cost per packet was $1400.00. So I too them to the chemist that dispersed them and asked if they could e used for someone else. He said that once dispensed they could not be reused even though they were unopened. Talk about waste of taxpayer’s money. This lady had many thousands worth of prescription drugs so the mind bogles how much is wasted in throwing these out every year.

    • 0
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      Returning drugs to the pharmacy are they are not thrown out but collected by charity groups that work with the people in the South Pacific Islands and possibly Africa and reused. The same as they do with spectacles and text books.

    • 0
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      Nope the pharmacy gave them back to me to throw away.

    • 0
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      Not what happens in Sydney

    • 0
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      This brings up another problem WHY are people allowed to collect prescription drugs. You should not be allowed to get the next script filled within 25 days of the previous script being supplied.

    • 0
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      Pretty sure that that pharmacist was 100% wrong in giving you the medication intended for someone else and suggesting you dispose of it yourself. Pharmacists would be required to accept it and then it would be disposed of by incineration.

      Slimmer Cat what you suggest absolutely cannot happen with unused prescription medication that has already been dispensed once. It is a whole different ball game with spectacles (or other prosthetics such as legs) or text books or anything else.

    • 0
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      I won’t argue with you on this on KSS. it is what we were told when we returned drugs after my father and mother-in-law died. We asked what happens to them and was told a charity collects them and they are sent to the islands.

    • 0
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      Old Geezer – If you were not the Executor of the deceased’s estate, you had no business touching anything that belonged to the deceased, that includes prescription drugs, without the Executor’s written permission or the deceased person’s solicitor written permission, irrespective of whether you were just helping the deceased. Mind boggles about helpers like this.

    • 0
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      HS I was the executor of the will so I had every right to do what I did.

    • 0
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      Yes, Old Geezer, everything comes sealed and bubble packed. If a doctor prescribes an antibiotic for 5 days there will be 7 – 10 days worth of pills in the pack so the excess will wasted.

    • 0
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      Well – you’re not supposed to be able to ‘hoard’ prescription medications, Slimmer – their issue is regulated and monitored by pharmacists.

      Perhaps it is a simple as that the old lady wasn’t taking her medication and thus ran up a stock of pills or whatever….

    • 0
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      Or perhaps, Trebor, she was given a prescription even if she didn’t want it so she didn’t take it.
      I swear I’ve nearly had stand upfights insisting I’m not ill, not in pain and I don’t want medicating even if he thinks that at my age I should be on 14 different pills a day.

  4. 0
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    I dont care if they test me ..they wont find anything.. I am a pensioner I think pollies and long term welfare recipients including migrants should be tested …

  5. 0
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    Drug testing of Aged Pensioners, is both impractable and would prove far too costly. The main reason is that, if most pensioners are like me, and I would say, I am a normal Pensioner. Each would be on a cocktail of drugs, as prescribed by our Doctor. I for instance have to devour 14 tablets a day, plus have an injection for Diabetes. I also take Hydralyte, for my kidneys, as well as a vitamin supplement, to assist with my diet. To my way of thinking, it is understandable that some in our communities, that are hooked on drugs, do not look for work, and spend their dole on drugs. However what is the cost to do the analysis for the 5000 in 3 areas? Let alone the Aged Pensioners, should that come into force.
    Maybe a better thing would be to reintroduce “National Service” for both sexes, this would reduce the dole queues overnight, people would then be able to learen a trade, or at least commence a trade course. Maybe even some would stay in the Army, Navy or the Airforce.
    At least that way, they would be, those that stayed in the navy, be able to man the obsolete submarines and patrol boats that are being built at great expense to our budget.
    There are better ways to spend money than to dope test welfare recipients.

    • 0
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      You are hooked on drugs and your urine must be some of the most expensive in the country. Far too many people take far too many poisons that are completely unnecessary. Nothing beats exercise and proper diet instead of poisoning yourself with a cocktail of drugs.

    • 0
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      @OG , excercise, heaven forbid!!

    • 0
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      Drug testing by force must be assault. I can see some expensive class actions along the way. Unfortunately taxpayers will have to foot the bill and the payouts not the no good pollies drunk on power.

    • 0
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      Perhaps I could market my urine as a cure-all for cardiac problems…..

      ….one drink of Dr Trebor’s Elixir will give you everything you need to combat crowded arteries and valves fluttering in the wind… first time buyers special – two bottled for the price of one!!

      (product may contain traces of alcohol)…..

    • 0
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      replying to TREBOR.there is already a significant market for fake urine. It can be purchased with the realistic “willy” to be worn with a fluid pouch filled with the clean “urine” for those working in industries where there are frequent urine drug tests (and sports too I expect). The apparatus is convincing enough such that from across the room, unless you were already an “intimate” friend of the person providing the sample, the casual observer would not realise all was not as nature had made them.

    • 0
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      Damn – I thought you were going to talk about the preverts who like a ‘golden shower’… (the mind truly boggles)….

      Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just about to give a urine sample?

  6. 0
    0

    Well – people who use ‘recreational’ or ‘hard’ drugs have always been stupid in my eyes… I’ll drink to that!

    What earthly purpose could there be to drug test old aged pensioner, superannuants, and all retirees (equal treatment under the law)… let the old bastards fade away into a smoke-filled haze if they wish…

    Next they’ll start saying that those with lined faces etc have caused it themselves through sun exposure and smoking and stuff….

    Where DOES a Fascist-minded State get off treating its sheep like people who can be ordered about at whim? (snuckle)… these people have the mindset of a concentration camp guard.. and before anyone tells me they are really nice men and women – remember that concentration camp guards would go home and confide with their wife over their onerous duties that just had to be done for the greater good of the state – poor darlings…

    We are entering a very dangerous time in governance in this nation – one in which the extremist thinkers ARE taking over….. been smoking too much pot if you ask me…

    They need to drug test politicians who come up with this kind of wacky idea.

    • 0
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      Trebor it would surprise you how many oldies are on prohibited drugs. Many around here brew their own potent oils and beverages.

    • 0
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      Aye – the Glen Oldey is a fine drop… distilled from the finest grains… eases the pain in the old joints…. arrrghh..

    • 0
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      Many workers are drug tested before they start a shift. Mine workers, train drivers etc. The major problem with people on prescription drugs
      is that once you get take more than 3 different types for different complaints the drugs interact with each other and whilst you might feel you are perfectly legal you could be well gone. Drug testing on the roads should done every time a random breath test is done.

    • 0
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      Whoa there TREBOR. There is absolutely no suggestion that this or any other Government is considering drug testing pensioners except from Mr Di Natale (and then further scaremongered by this site).

      That’s the Mr Di Natale who presides over a political party that wants to legalise all drug taking. In the meantime they want to stop the police and courts from enforcing the current law that prohibits the trafficking, selling and taking certain drugs plus they want to encourage drug taking at festivals by making ‘testing’ of the drug before taking it freely and widely available.

    • 0
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      Agree mostly, TREBOR. Scaremongering by an idiot (Di Natale) is not unexpected. However, this Govt’s Treasurer brought up the whole idea of drug testing, and needs to justify it. If that is to be useful, it should apply to all who get income from the Govt i.e. taxpayer’s support, AND NEED to PERFORM functions in return, such as Politicians, all Govt employees (especially the ones bringing up such moronic policies), Judges, Dole recipients missing interviews, etc. Clearly, Aged Pensioners do not need to PERFORM any functions to claim pensions, hence Di Natale needs a head-check (funny, as he is a doctor making such wild statements).

    • 0
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      No KSS testing at music festivals will prevent overdoses and deaths in some cases, it has been proven overseas. It does not encourage more drug taking as they will take them anyway. Mr Di Natale wants help for drug takers and treating them as criminals is not the answer. More rehab and education is needed, not too mention more nutrition, a lot of drug addicts are lacking in basic nutrition which affects their cravings.

    • 0
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      musicveg even the manufacturers of the so called ‘drug test kits’ admit they cannot guarantee that a tested tablet will not cause someone to overdose or die as a result of taking it whether at a festival in a club or even in your own bedroom.

    • 0
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      Bdetter to get in early and let them know it is a stupid idea, KSS – so they won’t be able to come up with this nonsensical idea when they need something to distract from another disaster in government…

      In political circles, it’s called ‘throwing canard on the floor’ .. meaning if things are too hot in the kitchen, distract the floor by throwing a rotting dead duck on it… that’ll take their minds off the heat….

    • 0
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      My apologies:-

      That’s:- ‘throwing a canard in the ring’…..

  7. 0
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    So you’re happy to spend millions to catch a tiny number of offenders from the most disadvantaged minority in our country. Look at UK, NZ, US experience. It costs a fortune. I hope the money is coming out of your pensions, even if it means it comes out of mine to. We have turned into the most hateful, nasty, mean and horrible country. No wonder people are so angry at boomers. No empathy. There are no damned jobs and addiction is an illness. Over 29% youth unemployment where I live. Enjoy the crime wave. I’m unsubscribing from this site because all the nasty ugly worms have come out of the woodwork. Fascists.

  8. 0
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    there is no problem drug testing age pensioners. it would only be a problem if they doing the wrong thing. also the politician should

  9. 0
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    What a long bow has been drawn. It is typical of this site to take thought bubbles from people and turn them into scaremongering. Nobody has ever suggested that pensioners will be drug tested and in any event what would be the point.

    I cannot believe that there are those who support drug taking, especially those, like Di Natale, who are in a position to make or change the laws of this country. Why hasn’t Di Natale put forward a Bill to legalise those drugs he is now championing? When a law is broken there should be consequences and if that means a loss of money, liberty, employment or assets then the fault lies with the person who broke the law, not the person who caught them.

    Slightly off topic, there is another group which needs to be discussed. It’s the group of elite sportspeople and those in the entertainment industry who get caught with illegal drugs and get the courts to not record a conviction as it may stop them travelling to some countries for their work or sport. Why don’t these people get treated the same as the average person who are stopped from some employment because of a conviction being properly recorded.

    The term “recreational use” should be banned as it suggests that it’s OK to use illegal drugs because it’s all just a bit of fun. I have always believed that if a law is unfair it should still be respected but action should be taken to change it. If illegal drugs are safe then governments should be lobbied to change the law. If people want to break the law by using illegal drugs then they must accept the consequences.

    • 0
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      Better to let the deep thinkers in government know that the well is poisoned BEFORE they try to drink of it and spread disease to the entire population… that’s why we’re here…

      Big sign:- “No Pensioner Drug Testing Allowed!”

    • 0
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      Aw TREBOR, you crack me up – “deep thinkers in government”. Isn’t that an oxymoron?

    • 0
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      Legal drugs are just as dangerous if not more. My brother died from a cocktail of prescription drugs giving to him by a doctor. Legal drugs are causing just as much if not more damage to our community than illegal drugs.

    • 0
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      Yes just look at all the famous people, singers, actors and actresses etc that have died from legal prescription meds, either accidental or intentional.

    • 0
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      Yes – you hit the nail on the head there, OM…. it was intended as a witticism…

    • 0
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      You missed the p off off _oxymoron, Old Man.

    • 0
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      It’s the Silent P, same as the one in front of “politician rick”…

    • 0
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      Nice turn of phrase for yez re ‘whinging’ on forums like this:-

      You don’t take a canary down in the mine in the hope it will die – you take it down to offer warning that YOU will die…

      So when we ring the parish bells out here to warn of invasion….. we are doing our duty to the nation.. later we’ll light the beacon fires on the hills….

      D’ye nae hear the pipes callin’ the clans… prepare yehselves, lads!

  10. 0
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    This highlights the current government’s attacks on the most vulnerable. Always go for low hanging fruit. The pushback from the Banking industry shows what the position the government would be in if they cashed up the big end of town (those with the wealth and legal backup to fight back). Drug testing in the workplace should be mandatory for certain jobs but irrelevant for others. Should Boards be drug and alcohol tested prior to board meetings, council members prior to council meetings, Senators meeting after hours, etc.

    • 0
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      You are highlighting a part of the problem. The irony is that if the current government were not being held ransom to election funding from the big end of town it might actually govern in the interests of the nation not the interests of the rich. I doubt that is going to happen until we make electoral funding (= buying politicians) in all its forms illegal.

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