While Marriage Equality Was Being Debated, The Drug-Testing-For-Welfare Trial Suffered A Major Blow

    As the Liberal party room had another emergency meeting on marriage equality, Labor said it wouldn't support the government's controversial trial.

    The government's drug-testing-for-welfare-recipients trial has suffered a major setback after Labor declared it wouldn't support legislation for the program.

    Joe Raedle / Getty Images

    The urine and saliva tests for new welfare recipients became the biggest story for the government coming out of the federal budget earlier this year, despite similar programs being abandoned in Canada and the UK.

    Treasurer Scott Morrison told BuzzFeed News the government would use tests of toilet water to decide where to have the trial, picking three locations across the country where drug use is high.

    On Monday, as Liberal Party MPs held an emergency meeting to debate the way forward on marriage equality, Labor quietly announced it wouldn't be supporting the drug testing trial.

    Labor's caucus decided to vote against the legislation needed for the trial, with shadow social services minister Jenny Macklin telling BuzzFeed News it had listened to experts on the issue.

    "We have carefully listened to the serious concerns of health experts, addiction medicine specialists and community organisations including: The Australian Medical Association; The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP); St Vincent’s Health; Rural Doctors Association of Australia; Harm Reduction Australia; The Penington Institute, The Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation; National Drug and Research Centre; Australian Council of Social Service; Uniting Care Australia; Homelessness Australia; and St Vincent de Paul Society," Macklin said in a statement.

    "Health experts and community organisations have said clearly that they oppose the Turnbull Government’s ill-conceived drug testing trial."

    With the Greens also suggesting its senators will vote against, the government will likely need the support of the Xenophon Team's MPs to pass a bill for the trial in the Upper House.

    Xenophon told BuzzFeed News he'll need to see the details before deciding which way to vote.

    "Open to proposal, subject to seeing details and safeguards and, of course, discussion with colleagues."

    Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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