Let’s drug test the nation

By Warwick McFadyen

“I believe in a fair go for those who have a go . . . under our policies, if you’re having a go you’ll get a go.”

By now Scott Morrison’s ineffable logic has worn its way into homes across the nation. If you’re having a go, you’ll get a go. It is perfection in its steel-trap reasoning, no matter which way you turn the words it will come out exquisitely the same nonsense.

It is this attitude of progressive thinking that has informed the government’s drug testing proposal for those on Newstart, only cleverly, it’s been switched around: if you’re not having a go, you don’t get a go.

And just to confirm the Ommm-like state of mind of the government, the Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston, has come out swinging. “Giving [people] more money would do absolutely nothing . . . probably all it would do is give drug dealers more money and give pubs more money,” she says.

Too true. But aren’t drug dealers members of 1002-nssociety too, don’t they spend their money and thus stimulate the economy? Perhaps Ruston should have gone further and said what this country really needs: compulsory national service reintroduced, thus hiding the problem of the non-working class for the election cycle and boosting defence numbers. Subs crews are apparently thin on the ground. It’s a win-win.

As to living on Newstart’s $40 a day, well Ruston couldn’t possibly bring herself to say the money was enough to feed yourself or your family, but she could say “I have not said that it will be easy to live on Newstart.” Indeed, she’s said it several times, which is a kind of empathy one supposes.

But there’s a spanner in the works. If we are fair-dinkum about being an egalitarian society, this Coalition-flavoured empathy and fair-go mentality should go further.

We should drug test everyone.

The argument for drug testing  is very small target stuff. If you’re on the dole, it’s obvious you’re taking drugs and squandering government money. So, we, the government will test you for drugs, two strikes and you’re out. Not all drugs, mind, just some. Alcohol is OK, the government makes a lot of money from sales of alcohol. It makes none from cocaine or ice. Not saying as a health issue taking drugs is going to make you an ultra marathoner, but neither is a slab of beer a day.

The argument for drug testing the lot of us is simple. Everyone benefits from government money in some shape or form. It mightn’t be directly into the bank account, though of course there are a lot of public servants and politicians, but in less direct ways. For instance, feel safe from marauding asylum seekers? That’s Border Force using our money to protect us.

So, once a fortnight there should be mandatory blowing into the tube and urinating into the bottle. For everyone, above the age of 16. Let’s hang onto thinking below 16 children are still young and innocent. Self-testing kits could be sent to homes, like bowel cancer kits, if anyone is a bit shy. Non-compliance could result in withdrawal of funds or indirect benefits – by increment (we wouldn’t want to be seen as going a bit totalitarian). Those on the government payroll could lose a proportion of their wages until they pass muster as straight for say three months, or if not on the government payroll, then there could be mandatory audits of tax returns for the past 10 years, or simply being slugged with a new levy. We could call it the contaminated urine tax.

At least this way there would be an honesty about what’s going on here. Let’s stop this pretence that we really care for those on welfare. Why we care so much we are going to modify their behaviour, and their behaviour only, that’s how much we care. We’re going to knock those suffering from addiction with a bloody big hammer. We’re going to call it conservative compassion or compassionate conservatism (depending on which side of the bed we wake up on each day).

Oh, and we’re not going to give them any more money to get by. That would just be absurd.



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