MP Andrew Laming calls for trials of cashless welfare cards and drug testing of welfare recipients in Redlands

CALLING FOR TRIALS: Bowman MP Andrew Laming wants trials of cashless welfare cards and drug testing of welfare recipients to be held in the Redlands. Photo: Brian Williams

CALLING FOR TRIALS: Bowman MP Andrew Laming wants trials of cashless welfare cards and drug testing of welfare recipients to be held in the Redlands. Photo: Brian Williams

BOWMAN MP Andrew Laming is pushing for the trials of cashless welfare cards and drug testing of welfare recipients to be held in the Redlands.

Mr Laming has called on Human Services Minister Alan Tudge to consider the Redlands as a location for one of three trial sites for the cashless cards.

He has also called for Newstart allowance recipients in Redlands to be among those in another trial of 5000 people in three locations tested for marijuana, ecstasy and ice next year.

Mr Laming proposes recipients be forced into rehabilitation to continue receiving payments if they tested positive twice in a month.

He said the government had started a huge investment in rehabilitation services.

“All government can do is give users a reason to start their long journey out of addiction,” he said.

Mr Laming said it was an initiative that needed to be trialled to obtain evidence.

In supporting the card trials, Mr Laming was motivated by evidence from a trial at Ceduna, South Australia.

“The evidence is that it incontrovertibly had positive impacts at Ceduna on how money is spent and changes in overall crime rates,” he said.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said she was sure leaders had good intentions of reducing drug and alcohol abuse by putting forward their community as a potential trial site, but evidence suggested it would not work.

“Income quarantining has failed in the Northern Territory with the Basics Card and in the trial site of Ceduna we have seen crime rates increase in the broader region, including aggravated and non-aggravated robbery,” she said.

“I urge leaders to properly scrutinise the evidence before committing to income quarantining that could just further entrench poverty and make life harder for people struggling to get by.”

Ms Siewert said leaders lobbying for their community to be a trial site needed to hold meetings with the community, community organisations and the people who would be put on the card to see what they thought about it.

“Leaders who are not accessing the social safety net were the ones who backed the trials (in the East Kimberley and Ceduna). There is not community support for the card. This is top down paternalistic policy.”

Mr Laming said Redlands would be a great place for the card trial, especially for minors who would be compelled to spend more of their money on essential items.

With the budget for 10,000 participants in the card scheme nationwide, including the current trials, Mr Laming said the Redlands was probably too ambitious an area for the trial.

“The Redlands is probably a fair way down the queue.”

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