Influential senator wants Australian lawmakers drug tested

Sen. Jacqui Lambie addresses reporters in Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. The unaligned senator says she will support laws that would force the jobless to undergo drug tests in return for welfare checks if lawmakers are also subjected to illicit drug screening.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A key unaligned senator said on Monday she will support laws that would force Australia's jobless to undergo drug tests in return for welfare checks if lawmakers were screened as well.

The conservative government wants to introduce drug testing of people paid unemployment benefits and to reduce the amount of money available to illicit-drug users for discretionary spending. It needs the support of unaligned senators to pass the legislation.

Sen. Jacqui Lambie is the only one so far to spell out conditions for her support.

Similar proposed laws have been rejected by the Senate twice before, with the center-left opposition Labor Party, medical and welfare groups arguing it amounts to punishing the jobless.

But the government thinks it has a better chance of passing the legislation with the new Senate elected in May.

Lambie, who has spoken about her own son's battle with methamphetamine addiction, said federal lawmakers should be subjected to random drug testing.

She said random drug and alcohol testing was commonplace in the construction and mining industries. The Parliament should lead by example, she said.

"Do not inflict on others what you won't do to yourselves, it's a simple as that," Lambie told reporters.

Several government lawmakers have spoken out in support of Lambie's stance.

"I've got absolutely no problems whatsoever with drug testing of politicians," government lawmaker Barnaby Joyce told the Seven Network television.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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