Senator Jacqui Lambie at Parliament House in Canberra.
Senator Jacqui Lambie at Parliament House in Canberra.

PM to meet Lambie on welfare drug tests

DRUG tests for welfare recipients are backed by an overwhelming majority of Australians, a new poll shows as Scott Morrison seeks to win Jacqui Lambie's support for the plan.

Eighty per cent of the readers who responded to a News Corp Australia online poll yesterday said they supported drug testing for welfare recipients.

Just 16 per cent of more than 1000 readers who responded to the poll said they didn't back the plan, while 4 per cent were unsure.

It comes as Prime Minister Morrison confirmed today the government would meet with Senator Lambie as she refuses to back the legislation unless it commits to more support for rehabilitation services.

Nieves Murray CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia and PM Scott Morrison speaking at a World Suicide Prevention Day Breakfast 2019 at Parliament House, Canberra. Picture Kym Smith
Nieves Murray CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia and PM Scott Morrison speaking at a World Suicide Prevention Day Breakfast 2019 at Parliament House, Canberra. Picture Kym Smith

"We're going to sit down with Senator Lambie. The bill will be considered over the next few weeks, if not when Parliament returns again," he told reporters in Canberra.

"The Senate is in charge of its own process and we will work closely with all the Senators."

He criticised Labor for not supporting a "fair dinkum trial" to help people break a drug addiction and find a job.

Mr Morrison last night said he was "puzzled" by the level of opposition to the trials, and believed they were "worth a try".

Senator Lambie has described the plan as "bloody pointless" unless there are more support services for people with substance abuse problems.

The Senate powerbroker said today it was "disheartening" the government had done little to tackle the issue since it announced the plan in 2017.

"They've had all this time to put more services into action and yet they haven't actually done that," Senator Lambie told the Today Show.
"I've still have people out there knocking on rehab doors and they are saying 'Sorry, we are full' or 'Come back in 12-month's time'.

"I find this absolutely bizarre. They have had all this time in between and yet they've shown no progress in making sure that they have rehab beds out there for anybody who needs them, especially our children."

She confirmed she would not be supporting the plan currently but hasn't ruled out backing it if the government tweaks its plan.

"You build and come back and see me and I am sure that they will come," she said.
 

The Daily Telegraph reports today each welfare recipient who tested positive to drug use under the trials would receive up $65,000 worth of rehabilitation.

It's part of a $10 million treatment fund which would be implemented alongside the trials.

The trials would cover 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients in three locations; Canterbury-Bankstown in Sydney, Logan, south of Brisbane, and Mandurah, south of Perth.

Senator Lambie, who holds a crucial vote in the Senate the government needs to pass the legislation, has also said she won't back the plan unless federal politicians also agree to undergo random drug tests.

A raft of senior Coalition MPs have already said they would be happy to undergo tests if it convinces Senator Lambie to back the legislation.

Senior Labor MPs have also agreed to the demand but the party has criticised the drug testing trials.