Labor has reserved its decision on whether to support the government's drug testing for welfare recipients trial, after the controversial measure was announced in the Budget earlier this month.
In a letter sent to social services minister Christian Porter on Monday, shadow social services minister, Jenny Macklin, and shadow employment minister, Brendan O'Connor, asked a series of questions about the trial, which is slated to begin on January 1, 2018.
For the trial to be green lighted the government needs new legislation to pass through the parliament with either the support of Labor or the Senate's crossbenchers.
Among their questions in the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by BuzzFeed News, were:
"1. What will happen to the drug dependent people if they are removed from the social security system? Does the government know if the trial will result in an increase in homelessness and potentially crime?
2. What evidence does the government have that drug testing people on social security will lead to better health outcomes?
3. Similar trials conducted in the United States show little evidence of achieving better outcomes for drug dependent people. Where has this approach worked?
4. How will the government ensure that people involved in the trial have access to support and rehabilitation services?
5. Has the government allocated additional funding for rehabilitation?
6. What consultations has the government undertaken with medical professionals about the proposed trial?
7. How much will the trial cost taxpayers?"
When asked whether Labor would support the drug testing trial, Macklin said the party was consulting with experts in the welfare sector before deciding how it would vote.
"There is a complete lack of detail on what the Turnbull government is proposing," Macklin told BuzzFeed News. "They need to come clean about how this trial would actually work."
If Labor decided to stand against the drug trial legislation, independent Nick Xenophon and his team of senators, plus One Nation, would be needed to pass it through the Senate.
Xenophon was asked whether he supported drug testing of welfare recipients in the wake of the Budget.
"It depends how it's done," Xenophon he said.
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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