FULL LIST: New drugs to be added to dole recipient tests

The Coalition is not only reviving its controversial plan to drug-test dole recipients, it is adding cocaine and heroin to the hit list.

Legislation to allow testing will be introduced to parliament next week and an expansion in the range of the illicit substances to be screened is the key change to what was originally proposed in 2017.

If passed, trials will be run at Canterbury-Bankstown, Logan in southeast Queensland and Mandurah, south of Perth, among 5000 people applying for Newstart or Youth Allowance for the first time.


RendezView. Horizontal view of a teenagers smoking marijuana joint. (Pic: iStock)
RendezView. Horizontal view of a teenagers smoking marijuana joint. (Pic: iStock)


When the plan was first raised in the 2017 Budget, it was to be confined to checks for ice, ecstasy and marijuana.

The proposal was popular with voters but after a backlash by interest groups, the Greens and Labor, it was dumped.

Its resurrection is a sign of the Coalition's surge in confidence since Scott Morrison's election win.

The pathway to passing the legislation has also been smoothed by changes to the Senate crossbench. The government would need the support of either Jacqui Lambie or Centre Alliance. Ms Lambie expressed support for it in 2017, although she said politicians should submit themselves to the same scrutiny.

The plan would restrict how welfare recipients could spend payments for up to two years. A second drug test would be scheduled within 25 working days of the positive result. If that test also comes back positive, the recipient would be referred to a medical professional to identify treatment options.

The trial will be financed by a $10 million Treatment Fund set up for the sites.


Senator Jacqui Lambie. Picture: Kym Smith
Senator Jacqui Lambie. Picture: Kym Smith


Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said people on welfare who took drugs were denying themselves the best opportunity to get a job.

"This trial will assess the use of drug testing as a means of identifying job seekers with substance abuse issues that may be preventing them from finding a job, and support them to address these barriers," Ms Ruston said.

"Taxpayers expect the government to ensure their money is being spent responsibly and that welfare recipients are using it to put food on the table, send the kids to schools and pay the bills … This measure is not about punishing people, it is about identifying people who need our help."

The most recent National Drug Strategy Household Survey, from 2016, found the unemployed were three times more likely to use ice and 50 per cent more likely to use cannabis than people in work.

The drugs to be screened;

  • Cocaine 
  • Heroin 
  • Ice 
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana