Canning MP Andrew Hastie renews call for council to back drug tests dole recipients

Canning MP Andrew Hastie has renewed his call for the City of Mandurah to support a drug testing trial for welfare recipients after a new poll revealed massive public support for the scheme.

Mr Hastie slammed the council in September when it complained the City had not been consulted and the drug tests would “demonise” the unemployed.

The council directed the City’s chief executive Mark Newman to write to every federal politician in the Western Australia to oppose the Mandurah trial.

But a poll published in The Australian newspaper on Thursday showed three out of four voters were in favour of drug testing welfare recipients.

The results mirror on online poll conducted by the Mandurah Mail showing more than 70 per cent of respondents in favour of drug testing Mandurah’s job seekers.

Mr Hastie said the polling revealed Australians prefer a common sense approach to tackling drug addiction and welfare reform and called on newly elected mayor Rhys Williams to keep an open mind about the trial.

“All of the community feedback I received from Mandurah was overwhelmingly in support of the drug testing trial,” he said.

“It was only people on the council who opposed it and obviously for political or ideological reasons.

“I’m hoping Rhys, given he has a fresh approach, he’s a young leader and he obviously cares about our community, I really hope he sets aside the politically motivated reservations the council might have, gives the trial a go and approaches it from an evidence based perspective.”

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Mr Williams said he did not intend to revisit the virtue of the decision to conduct the drug testing trials in Mandurah, but accepted they were a reality and was open-minded about the outcome.

“As Mayor, what I’m interested in is supporting our local agencies to ensure they have the resources they need to be able to support those affected by addiction, and working with the Federal Member for Canning and other key stakeholders in reviewing the evidence of this trial to identify the community impact, both positive and negative,” he said.

“As a community, I think we’re open-minded enough to recognise that we are both a community of opportunity and strength, and a community that has its fair set of challenges.

“We’re sophisticated enough to both build on those strengths and address those challenges at the same time”.

But Mr Hastie said he and the federal government would be pushing ahead with the Mandurah drug testing trials even if the council did maintain its opposition.

“This is a good policy and I’m going to pursue my agenda regardless of whether the City of Mandurah approves of it or not,” he said.

“Based on the polling, it’s very important they recognise they’re sitting in the minority and I think it confirms my view they’re out of touch with community sentiment.”

The trials are due to begin in 2018.