Logan Named As Dole Drug Testing Hotspot

Mayor says issue 'dumped' on city

Logan Named As Dole Drug Testing Hotspot Pic: Logan City Council

The Federal Government will officially reveal today that Logan will become one of the country's biggest drug testing hotspots for people receiving welfare payments.

The announcement comes after Canterbury-Bankstown, in Western Sydney, was last week chosen as the first of three trial sites due to the high number of drug dependencies and ice-related hospitalisations.

From January, more than 2000 Logan locals claiming Newstart and Youth Allowance will be tested over the next two years. If a positive test is received for marijuana, ecstasy or ice, 80 per cent of the person's welfare payments will be frozen while they are referred to medical experts for rehabilitation.

Social service statistics show that the area has seen a 162 per cent increase in the number of local dole recipients using drug dependency as an excuse for not attending scheduled job interviews, while the proportion of drug and alcohol abuse in Logan is reportedly higher than the national average.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge told Hit Network's Stav, Abby & Matt with Osher it's about assisting the Australians who need it most.

"The reason we're doing this is because we want to assist people to get off drugs if they've got a drug habit and get them back into the work force," he said.

"If you're on drugs, you exclude yourself from so many jobs in society [these days] which require you to be drug free. We're talking about taxpayer dollars supporting people in times of need. We don't provide welfare payments to support people's drug habits. If you've got a problem, it's going to be so much harder for you to find work."

But Logan Mayor Luke Smith told SCA Radio he's worried that his city will be tarred with the brush of a national issue.

"The first we heard about it was when the media contacted us to give us a heads up. We're very frustrated by that because this is a typical Federal Government approach, a top-down approach, whereas everyone knows the only way to transform issues in a city is from grassroots up," he said.

"The best thing they could have done is consult with us, we already have programs right across the city dealing with this and finding tremendous success."

"Our unemployment rate has reduced by 2.5%, the average income has risen by 12%, our property prices has risen by 15%. There's a lot of great things happening in Logan. So, don't just come and dump Logan with this issue that seems to be a nationwide issue and just blame Logan for it."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also weighed in on the issue, telling SCA Radio there is a chance the initiative will end up as a "blanket approach".

"I hope when we learns more about it, the Mayor will support it. I think most people will think this is a very sensible approach, it is a trial, and if it's successful obviously we'll roll it out further," he said.