George Christensen.
George Christensen.

'Drug test for the dole'

RADICAL thinking or a reasonable point? Whichever side you sit, it is certain to stir community debate.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen says welfare payments for the unemployed should be conditional on passing a drugs test.

Mr Christensen has told Federal Parliament that miners in Mackay could not understand why jobseekers were not required to undergo drug tests when holding a job in the mining industry was dependent on passing the same tests.

"I agree with them," he said. "If it's good enough for a hard-working miner, who pays taxes, to undergo a mandatory drug test, then it's good enough for the person who receives those taxes in welfare.

"To argue against drug testing for Newstart recipients is to foster illegal activities.

"If you cannot pass a drugs test to receive the dole, you are automatically ruling yourself out of employment opportunities."

Mr Christensen said while the measure was not party policy, it was another means of matching labour supply to demand in regional centres.

The Nationals are promoting a policy of incentives for moving to regional centres for work and disincentives for doing nothing.

The policy would include tying skilled migrants to regional areas; cash incentives and assistance for relocation; and denial of unemployment benefits to anyone who refuses to work in regional centres.

Mr Christensen said a carrot and stick approach was needed to fill resource industry vacancies.

"We have to make working in regional centres attractive and make sitting at home on the couch less attractive," he said.

"If the job opportunities are there and training is available, then young mobile welfare recipients who refuse to take up gainful employment in the regions should not expect to continue to receive those benefits."

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