Australia

Controversial plan to drug test for welfare back on agenda

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Plans to drug test welfare recipients are back on the federal government's agenda after they were rejected last year.

Controversial plans to drug test welfare recipients are back on the agenda after the coalition party room endorsed new proposed laws.

The Turnbull government had originally hoped to drug test 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients across three trial sites in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia from January

But the plan was scrapped in December when the Senate rejected it.

On Tuesday the proposed new legislation received strong support from the coalition party room, as the government plans to try to get the laws through again.

New Social Services Minister Dan Tehan has taken over the bill, after former minister Christian Porter became attorney-general.

Centrelink office in Salisbury, north of Adelaide.
Centrelink office in Salisbury, north of Adelaide.
AAP

Under the government's original plan, anyone who tests positive would have been shunted onto cashless welfare cards, while those who fail more than once would be referred to medical professionals for treatment.

Labor and the Greens opposed the drug tests, arguing they would demonise welfare recipients.

Doctors and community groups were also deeply critical of the drug tests, arguing they would prove an expensive, paternalistic and potentially damaging waste of time.

The government withdrew the plan after last-minute negotiations with Senate crossbenchers failed to get the laws passed.

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