Should the unemployed be drug tested before being allowed to receive the unemployment benefit, Finance Minister English asks

Should the unemployed be drug tested before being allowed to receive the unemployment benefit, Finance Minister English asks

By Alex Tarrant

Should the unemployed all be drug tested before being allowed to receive a benefit?

That offhand question from Finance Minister Bill English drew a round of applause from Federated Farmers delegates at the group's AGM in Auckland on Thursday.

Having been asked why New Zealand was bringing in migrants for agricultural work while there were unemployed Kiwi youth on benefits, English responded by saying from his experience, many of the unemployed youth in his Clutha/Southland electorate could get jobs at the freezing works or in forestry if only they could pass a drugs test.
"Which makes you wonder whether we should have a drugs test for putting people on [the] benefit," he said.

This wasn't the first time this had been raised with English, although it was the first time (that I've seen) where he raised it himself.

In a post Budget speech in Silverstream, Wellington, on May 29, English was asked why that wasn't commonplace, especially as many employers had to drug test their workers. He was asked by someone who ran a construction company.

English said it was a serious question.

"Because we're saying to people, you have to be available for work. We know there are now a number of industries where drug testing is pretty much compulsory - at home, you can't get a job in the freezing works without passing a drug test. In fact, the local freezing works reckons it could employ all the young people in South Otago who are unemployed, if any of them would pass a drug test," English told the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce.

"That's a fair enough question. At the moment we don't have that requirement, but we are moving into a world where there will be more requirements on people. Those requirements should, over time, match up more with the requirements of the workplace where they can be available for work, because not all the people on welfare can [work]," he said.

"There are quite a lot of people on welfare who just can't work - we know that, but there are ones who can.

"It's a good question. I'll go away and have a think about that," he said.

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Oh come on being on the Dole is a right of passage handed down to societies trash since Savage! We have numerous people who are third generation bludgers whom have no role models and think money from the government has no conditions attached.
Completely agree with Billy Boy.

Why should the middle class be force to pay for those who don't contribute.
They should also introduce the dole paid into an account where funds can not be withdrawn to play the pokies, buy tabacco, buy booze, own Sky accounts. Its already being rolled out in parts of Australia its called ‘Compulsory Income Management’
We have a shocking Gov't Budget which does not balance and getting serious with the Benefit drain should be top priority!!

Only if Members of Parliment undergo regular random drug testing. 

A comprehensive psychological assessment might be in order also.

Agree with Bill on this one.  If they can afford to go wasting money on pot then they don't need  the dole.  This could be just the motivation for these folks to straighten up their lives and join the work force.  However addicted people need services aimed at getting them clean and this is something that we lack.  Some carrot and stick approach here may be useful also,  Ie you can have the dole if you are attending an addiction program, but if after that you fail to make an effort to keep straight then goodbye dole.  

Good slab of red meat for the Feds to cheer on!  "Huzzah, I say!" from a thousand rural throats.
I notice he didn't suggest a capital gains tax, or controls on water pollution.  As Napolean suggested, pick your battle grounds. 
I think they are still trying to find distractions to get past the debable over the class sizes

Yeah right now anything will do for them as a distraction from the complete disater they are making of just about everything they touch.

What about just worrying about more important things like the mess you have made of the country's finances Bill?

Philly you have no idea what you are talking about!!!!
Unemployed grow the marajuana in the rural areas where the conditions of disguise are favourable. Yep they get a benefit and a cash crop on the side which some of them TRADE  outside schools and god knows where else. Probably supplying someone in a city near you.   So yes it is highly likey Bill would bring this issue up with farmers as the farmers are also the ones who have the problem of the growers.
Your missing the point of the illegal activity and the cost of that illegal activity on society. 
Do your homework Northland and Nelsons economy are both known to have had drug money in the past.
3 Generations of unemployed is common in some areas. So how long do you want to keep the cartel going?

Notaneconomist (& notagoodreader too, apparently)
Whatever gave you the idea that I am opposed to this policy???  I think you had better go to a remedial reading class.
On the contrary, I have no problem at all with it.
As I say, it just amuses me that English chooses to focus on it when talking to the Feds, rather than on policy issues that would make far more impact in relation to farmers & the country as a whole.  But, of course, would be less than welcome in that company. 
"Courage" is not the word that leaps to mind when you look at the topic he chose.

Philly - absolutely nothing wrong with my reading. May I suggest you attend remedial writing classes, that might assist you in staying on topic.  Unless of course you think that a CGT and water quality have somehow affected the beneficiaries and their drug habits.
If you think the issues of the economy are going to be solved by CGT then perhaps you don't fully understand the current taxation system or the GFC.  Have you thought about what happens when there is no capital gain but a capital loss is incurred - large tax refund when you have CGT. Look to some of the countries in the Eurozone which have CGT and see what is happening to the tax-take with property deflation. 
Farming and farming related industries are struggling for quality labour so I think it is relevant that Bill discusses the problems with the Feds. Part of the labour component issue is that many young people do not like the physical and mental requirements of working in such complex environments. 
"As I say, it just amuses me that English chooses to focus on it when talking to the Feds, rather than on policy issues that would make far more impact in relation to farmers & the country as a whole. But, of course, would be less than welcome in that company."
And the policy issues that would make far more impact in relation to farmers and the country as a whole are???

"notaneconomist" but clearly "sureamanideologue"
I'll leave you and Bill to cosy up together, you are clearly bosom buddies.

"phillydilettantes - verbal contortionist"  do have a lovely weekend.

How about 'morality test for all MP's? before they draw their next inflationary adjusted salary increase via the RA?

Bill's found his niche! Comedy.........the black kind 

Societies there is a thought..
What part of " too little, too late" does a poll-lie never understand.
The dole should be tested.
The Poll-lies should be tested.
The Treasury should be tested.
The Banks certainly need testing.
The Welfare State as a hole...needs testing.
The Euro needs testing...but so does the Dollar, the renmibi and the other drugged up currencies.
The bludgers are all taking the piss...and it all needs TESTING.
Taking out the trash....should never be left to just the workers, the unemployed and the indigent..(poor - needy - destitute - necessitous - impecunious)
Taxing though it may be.....seem, the Testing people are all the above......too.
And I do not know, what they are on....these high.... falluting low lifes...but I do know who is on the take.....and it aint drug related, but it is criminal.
.Why should the middle class be force to pay for those who don't contribute.,,but take the piss...and our taxes, and our incomes.....and our little interest, what is left of it....after paying out and bailing  the Pollies, banks, world, IMF, FED..........etc.
(I do repeat myself.....endlessly, but it is endless.)
Precisely...GOLDENFOX....A champion of the Middle Class..the ones who pay for the lot....and get the BILL..............................the wrong bleedin one....
As per usual.

Now you see what I mean there Alter Ego....that's a rant.!!!!

Markets in Everything; Urine edition. Only under a National government could untainted urine become a seller's market.

Brilliant tactic. Bash the dole bludgers and the masses will forget asset sales... Wag the dog Billy Boy, wag the dog!

Dole benefit has factored in drugs, sky, lotto, booze, ciggies. Opium for the people!

Or the unemployed can always pursue a modest proposal...

Had a mate in a forestry gang in Gisborne, they drug tested and got a %75 approval  rating,two choices fire everyone and give up or stop the drug test, choose option two. Alcohol was the biggy, followed by NZ green.   
  The reson we have foriegn workers on Dairy farms is that large scale dairy farms like to employ them on salary and then work them 75 hours or more a week. The hourly wage is way below minimum but they dont want to complain or they will lose their job and be sent home.Its slavery NZ dairy style, and it gets approval from the top. Ive even heard of farmers giving foriegn works bad references so they couldn't get another job. Id suggest we get the Polies to work along side some Fillipinoes in the holidays give them a taste for the third world and the shit in dairying.

What you say about foreign farm and horticulture workers really was a mouthful. Too bad it's the truth, eh. I see this whole drug testing bizzo especially as it relates to agriculture industry as a smokescreen (pun intended) as they cannot state the truth, that these jobs are, in effect, well below minimum wage. They know that to change this that employers have to accept that people have to be paid according to OUR employment laws, which are being flouted at the moment, by way of, as you say, salaries but workers having to work well over 40 hours, and contract gangs, who for the person taking the gang on, is an out of sight out of mind situation and they don't have any hand in what the actual workers are paid.
There are a couple of ways the govt could address this. Make sure people are paid wages for hours worked and that contract gangs are either outlawed or much much tighter controls are put on them, so that those working actually receive no less than minimum wage and they are not rorted with accommodation costs etc. Ruh roh, less competitive. The other is that they scrap the minimum wage so locals can compete, love to see them try to sell that one
The direction this govt is taking us in is 180deg wrong. It is all about compete, compete, dollar signs and bottom lines, dog eat dog. It is time they realise that they are reaming the heart out of this country and things like morale in the forces etc is very very real and that people do actually matter. It is way past time they realise that they are creating a nasty, mean, back stabbing society and do something about it.

if my clients don't get the dole then how will they pay me
signed pablo escobar

It's a scam.  Drug tests for welfare was tried in various places around the USA (Florida, for one and all of them with far higher drug availability than NZ) and every time it's been an expensive failure.  The stereotype of beneficiaries being drug users doesn't correlate particularly well with reality, so it's a hell of a lot of expense and bureaucracy for sod-all positive drug tests.  Hit rate was around 2%, which doesn't even come close to covering costs in cancelled benefits.
Who'd be contracted to do the testing, and how much did they donate to the National campaign in exchange for the privilege, I wonder?

It is interesting how this government always try to get savings on the poorest first.....must be some ideological principle in force.....

stp You are so wide of the mark its not true . I actually resent the tax I pay being used by  people on the Dole to buy drugs .
And whatsmore , drug abusers are clearly not poor , have you seen wht this stuff costs ?
Bill English should just do it .

And whatsmore , drug abusers are clearly not poor , have you seen wht this stuff costs ?
I don't quite follow your logic, but suspect you are suggesting that richer drug abusers don't need to steal as much.

You really think that if this idea was implemented it would save the government money? That's a very naive assumption, how many people do you think are actually going to be caught by this test anyway, and what is it going to cost to drugs test dole receivers to find that out.

Snippy, the whole dole system needs to be re-structured 
1) Everyone receiving a benefit should be forced into WINZ to be re-registered strating with those surnames witht he letter A  until Z . This will eliminate people on the beneift who are in Jail , or in work or in Pakistan AND still receiving the benefit, because WINZ systems are such a cok-up . 
2) A fingerprint based ID card should be issued with a PIN number , like in the UK .
It also helps the Police when they are looking for criminals, to have a database of fingerprints 
3) All beneficiaries should be subject to the same drug test that sportsmen undergo .
All this may be extreme , but its necessary to shake up WINZ and the dole , and get us out of running such a big budget defecit.

1)  Already happens
2)  Illegal
3)  Expensive as hell and would require enormous bureaucracy to administer.  Large body of evidence exists that it won't work, and nothing positive will be achieved.
So you're essentially pushing for a large and costly government department to be created to administer this, when all the evidence indicates that it would be a black hole of expensive failure.  Is that really what you want?

Kakapo, I beg to differ 
No.1  ) WINZ needs to re-start its Database, and get risk of the Spooks and Ghosts  , there are Gooba's in Jail who are still receiving the benefit ( in error)
There are numerous people in paid employment who have not notified WINZ that they are working , and when the System catches up with them its too late and cant be recoverd .
Earlier this year they found a Pakistani migrant who had gone back to Pakistan , but was receiving WINZ money in his NZ Bank account .
No. 2 ) It may be illegal to fingerprint people in NZ but elsewhere is common practice to get your ID or Social security cards . It needs a law change 
No. 3) This is not at all costly An athletes Drug test can be done by simple urine test, its costs about 75cents for the test kit , hardlyexpensive , and does not need any additional staff at WINZ  

1)  Not the issue.  You're conflating fraud identification and prosecution with drug tests for all beneficiaries. Not the same thing at all.  Investigation to identify benefit and identity fraud is already well established.  I'd support extending resources for fraud investigation, because it works.
2)  If there was a law change, everybody would have to get an ID card and be printed as a baby.  Restricting it to beneficiaries would be stupid, because that's an ever-changing population.  Remember the outcry and protest when Bolger/Shipley govt tried to instigate that?  Why would people meekly accept it now?
3) Cheap tests are just the beginning.  To use a test as the underpinning evidence for something as drastic as cutting off somebody's income, it needs to be a hell of a lot more robust than that.  Checks and balances are essential, and so's an appeal process.  It's like if the cops pick you up on an EBA - breath testing is only the beginning.  For it to proceed to prosecution there needs to be an evidential blood test taken by a qualified person and analysed in a lab. 
4)  Even if it did identify enough drug users to pay for itself, what are they going to do then?  A proportion will go into crime.  If they're using drugs, then they already have the contacts.  Law enforcement, justice and prisons cost a bomb, and prisoners are way more expensive than beneficiaries.  Won't do our insurance premiums any good either.
5) This has been tried and it doesn't work.  Don't take my word for it.  Look it up.  Every time it's been an expensive failure, because it's based solely on whipping up irrational prejudice.  Why do you want to waste my tax dollars on a daft project that will suck up the $$$ and accomplish nothing?

they found a Pakistani migrant who had gone back to Pakistan, but was receiving WINZ money in his NZ Bank account
Are you sure ?. Don't they have data-matching between WINZ-Customs-IRD ?

Scraping into the actual barrel now...

Billenglish is onto it - but actually Dole,sikniss etc   should be paid in food or clothing vouchers - NEVER  put it into accounts untagged
I support drug testing for all bloggers too  which would raise the quality of debate markedly

I support drug testing for all bloggers too which would raise the quality of debate markedly
Ohh goody, another fascist. To where should I send the sample? Yours? Put your address up - I am sure you will be inundated with responses.   

Is the term "dog whistle" the correct one for this sort of comment by a politician designed to appeal to a particular audience but with no real intention behind the comment.
What is happening to our labour terms and conditions is really really bad. This is something to worry about.
Third world terms and conditions are reaching into every part of the economy. At both ends of the scale, Some people are grossly over paid for undertaking simply administrative functions of near monoply entities while very poor terms and conditions are paid - or sometimes not paid at all to workers.
Trouble is that New Zealand needs people with money in their pocket to spend. That is how a growing dynamic economy works.

Trouble is that New Zealand needs people with money in their pocket to spend. That is how a growing dynamic economy works.
Totally agree - the old egalatarian roots have to be re-visited or the whole lot will vanish before our eyes. 

Come on Bill!!
How many times can you skin a cat? Milk a goat? Fleece a sheep? You get my drift....Is that how we are going to get our economy out of the ekeing out the last cent from those who have little enough, whose situation is already dire enough?!? Golden F@! have you ever been in a situation of need... or have you been blessed with the golden touch of excess all your life? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you haven't worked your ass off your entire life and never asked a penny from anyone, like so many of us, but the fact of the matter is that not everyone has had the breaks in life, or have had the capacity, strength, will power, education and structured support to break what ever cycle they were born into. There are a lot of people in our society who have/are trying desperately to make it and are failing, not out of choices necessarily, but because shit does happen...over and over again, no matter how many times they try. Where the hell is our compassion? Those who have strived to go beyond the limitations of the social or family situation they were brought into and have managed to get a break or two are either lucky or have an iron will.
If we as a society are to go down this track, then it has to be equitable. If this is how Bill says the work place is going then let's bring it in right across the workforce. Every office, factory and business will require employees not only to clock in each morning but blow into their standard breathalizing machine which will read what levels of substance/s have been abused since they were last at work. Those in Bill's realm - the Finance Sector - will be required to undergo three compulsory tests daily, as it is common knowledge that this sector consume more drugs and alcohol than any other!!
And last but not least as a way of controlling our whereabouts at any given time, our tatooed barcodes will be zapped repeatedly as a way of analyzing whether our spending habits are in line with our income levels.
I'm done...I think that should cover it Bill

Exponential Naivety - you make some very valid points. Firstly I don't think anyone minds helping out someone who is having a bad time. However when does the bad time end and the responsibility for oneself start again? because when we have 3 generations of families obtaining benefits - we have severe problems that need addressing. It is no longer a help out but a lifestyle choice. 
Some of the bloggers here need to get out amoungst some of these people and see what is going on. There are some rural townships that you should visit and see for yourselves what is actually happening.  Drugs are an issue for many of the beneficiaries and so is their drug "trading" to make extra cash on the side. Some of this trading is happening on the perimeter of  school grounds.  The unemployed growers have all day to tend to their crops through the growing season, they make farm life hellish for some people as they certainly aint growing it in their own back yards.
Ever had an angry unemployed grower try to run you off a rural road because you were going home at the wrong time. They booby trap their crops with gin traps to keep the possums and other nibblers out of their plots and so when your mustering you have to be bloody cautious as you don't know which block of gorse may be obscuring their plantings. Gin traps and dogs aren't a great combination.
It is the lawlessness that goes with these people that has far reaching consequences. Some of these people carry weapons and mimic genuine hunters. They want to go down through your property to do a spot of fishing and next you find the poice helicopter is hauling shit loads of the green stuff out.
Paying them a benefit so they can conduct their illegal growing and selling is only adding to the problem. 
Most of the marajuana is grown in rural areas so many city folk don't know a thing about what happens in the rural areas when it comes to this drug. Police are often half an hour or further away when things do go wrong or when you catch the little sods growing their crap on your place.  If these people want the right to the benefit then they shouldn't abuse the system.

Notaneconomist, you also make some very valid points, but I'm not talking about organized growers creating alternative economies subsidized by WINZ. Seriously how many of the sick and unemployed would fall into the category you outline here. These guys you talk about are serious growers, and that's big business creaming in cash. The people I'm talking about are genuinely poor predominantly urban dwellers caught in a vortex of despondancy and hopeless prospects. To be young today in certain areas of New Zealand, is to be delivered to a status quo which is dis-spiriting and unenviable. Unless you have witnessed the undermining of the social structures some neighbourhoods are dealing with you will never know how sad some of our cities are.
This Government consists of social vultures creating more and more outcastes - the very same outcastes that many people here are condemning as societies trash. Maybe that is what modern New Zealand dump all the trash on their street.
That's where the poorest will end up, because their meager subsidy will have been eroded by miserly minded policies.. and not all the "pull your socks up and get a job" lectures from the likes of Golden F@! is going to create any solutions.
This is much bigger than looking for another 'innovative' cost cut to help balance the books. Do you know what I mean Bill?

I find Billy Bob's desire to have drug testing for beificiaries consistant with his continual piss taking obsession.......It is quite possible he is once again .....taking the sample.,

Addendum to the above:
The reason for the Finance Sector requiring stricter substance controls than the rest of the populace is very simple, and goes beyond my desire for comic irony.
Bill's world - the banks and corporates that pull his arms and legs and require him to make concessions and trade-offs for the sake of maintaining their profitability at the expense of societies lesser mortals - is the very world that is in control of this planet's wealth.                    
It isn't just Bill's arms and legs - We go up and down when decisions are made in trust and on our behalf.
Does it not stand to reason that you want these very same people to be clear thinking and level headed when they are out there fabricating their financial produce. They require far more stringent controls than a meatworker. They are dealing with our carcasses!!
When a doped out meatworker makes a mistake, he loses a thumb.
When Bill's mates the world over make a mistake, not only do the meatworks close in the end, but our carcasses are left hanging to rot. I doubt there is anybody amongst you who hasn't witnessed someone slowly decomposing in despair!
Now Bill can come down from his heady heights and take this to the next level if he wishes to, but I suggest he makes sure his sector is clean first....there's just one substance though that won't come up in any drug test...GREED.

While they're at it, wouldn't hurt to check the financial sector for gambling addiction as well.

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