• Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (AAP)
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says drug testing new welfare recipients is a policy based on love and common sense.
Source:
AAP
12 May - 6:52 PM 

Is drug testing welfare recipients based on science and facts? On medical and expert advice?

No, the hardline federal government intervention is driven by love and plain common sense.

"This is a policy that is based on love, and a commitment to support Australians," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

"It is plainly sensible, rational, compassionate to ensure, as far as possible, that people are not addicted to drugs, and certainly welfare payments should not be used to buy drugs."

Mr Turnbull wants to test thousands of new welfare entrants for illicit substances including ice, ecstasy and marijuana.

Officials will scrutinise sewage to find areas of high drug use, before hand-picking trial sites for testing 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients.

Anyone who tests positive will be shunted onto cashless welfare cards with their payments quarantined, while those who fail more than once will be referred to medical professionals for assessment and treatment.

Mr Turnbull was asked whether expert advice informed his policy, or whether the trial was driven by backbenchers including George Christensen, who have long been calling for such action.

He skirted the questions, focusing instead on his belief the vast majority of Australians think drug-addicted welfare recipients should be helped to kick their habits.

"If you love somebody who is addicted to drugs, if you love somebody whose life is being destroyed by drugs, don't you want to get them off drugs? Don't you want to reach out and help them?" Mr Turnbull asked.

"If you love somebody who is addicted to drugs, then you would do everything you can to get them off drugs."