WELFARE DEPENDENCE: Minister for Families and Social Services Senator Anne Ruston led a push for the Federal Government to reintroduce legislation to enable drug testing of Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients.
WELFARE DEPENDENCE: Minister for Families and Social Services Senator Anne Ruston led a push for the Federal Government to reintroduce legislation to enable drug testing of Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients. DAVID MARIUZ

NECESSARY EVIL: Drug tests a case of tough love

A MORAL stain on our society? Or a proactive approach to tackle both generational entitlement and the crippling drugs epidemic?

On the surface the proposed random drug testing trial and national rollout of welfare cards appears provocative to a society that has rarely had its system shaken from the bottom up.

But I believe the decision to start drug testing welfare recipients is a good move in the right direction. It targets those who have a choice (not necessarily an easy one) to change their lives for the better.

We are exceptionally lucky in this country that we can 'get by' despite effectively earning nothing, because of the safety net afforded by our fellow taxpaying citizens.

But while it has helped keep many people out of poverty, it's also created a cesspit for people to lose motivation, fall through the cracks and accept a substandard lot in life - not to mention a toxic sense of entitlement.

In other less fortunate countries, the poorest people are often the happiest and most generous. In my experience our culture does not generally operate like that.

We should be promoting a population of people who take responsibility for their actions, and take charge of their own lives, instead of expecting a government to handfeed them every step of the way - very rarely with an attitude of gratitude in return.

We should encourage an incentivised system to motivate people into work - or in this latest case - to get help, which can then lead to being more employable.

I'd like to think it can serve as a wake up call to help people change their lives for the better.

Yes, people should have the choice to live an alternative lifestyle out of step with mainstream society, and this may include taking drugs as a lifestyle choice, and not necessarily considered an addiction. But why should the taxes of conformity that you don't support prop up your drug-taking habit?

And yes, many unemployed people who take drugs may make positive contributions to mainstream society and volunteer in a multitude of community groups. But is the long-term drug use really doing them a favour? History says no.

Issuing a cashless welfare card to those who fail the drug tests may be the catalyst for individuals to question whether they are on the right track, living a meaningful life and getting the best out of themselves, or whether the drugs are weighing them down, and in fact possibly used as a vice to avoid looking for work in the first place.

Life on the dole should be tough, and it should have rules, especially for those who are perfectly capable of joining the workforce.

This drug testing strategy is a case of tough love. While many will simply feel victimised and their privacy violated, the government has a responsibility to do something to address drugs and welfare dependency in this country.