Key: No plans for drug test as part of benefit application, but English makes fair point about youth on benefits not taking jobs because drug tests needed

Key: No plans for drug test as part of benefit application, but English makes fair point about youth on benefits not taking jobs because drug tests needed

By Alex Tarrant

Finance Minister Bill English makes a fair point in raising concerns about youth on benefits not accepting jobs because they will fail a drugs test, Prime Minister John Key says.

But there were no plans to introduce drug testing as part of a benefit application, he said.

English yesterday wondered out loud whether there should be "a drugs test for putting people on [the] benefit," when addressing Federated Farmers' AGM in Auckland. He had been answering a question on why New Zealand brought in migrant workers for agricultural work when there were unemployed youth receiving benefits.

English said that in his experience, many unemployed youth could not get jobs in the sector because they would not pass drugs tests required by employers.

National contested the 2011 election on a policy that included the possibility a person's benefit would be cancelled if they did not apply for a Work and Income-arranged job because the employer requested a drug test.

"Jobseekers who don't apply for a job because they are asked to take a drug test, or who fail a pre-employment drug test, face having their benefit cancelled," Key said on November 15, alongside Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

Speaking to media in Auckland on Friday, Key said English made a fair point that a lot of young people were telling Work and Income officers they would not pass a drug test, when offered a job through the service.

Whether that person should be allowed a benefit was a different debate.

“We’d have to look at exactly what’s driving that – whether it’s recreational use or they’re addicted and all of those other issues," Key said after speaking to a KPMG tax conference in Auckland.

“But in the end, I think there’s a pretty strong case that, if you can work, you should work. If the only thing that’s stopping you working is that you’re smoking a bit of marijuana in the weekend for something to do, my advice is to stop smoking marijuana," he said.

Asked whether a drug test should be included as part of an application for a benefit, Key said that avenue had not been considered.

“I’m not ruling it out, but that’s not what we’re looking at, at this point," he said.

“What we are focussed on is trying to get people into work. Our big focus is probably trying to move people off benefits – not necessarily by cancelling their benefit, but by making them work-ready. That’s probably more the right place that we’re looking at."

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Why do they need to introduce drug tests when the processes are already there to deal with the problem. Send young person off to an interview for a job, if that job requires a drug test the young person must do the test. If they fail to do the test, or fail to pass the test then their benefit is cancelled for six months. A second offence means the benefit is cancelled for five years.
 
No need for all the drama and head line gabbing. On that note it would pay to look and see what is going on that they don't want you to know about.

They already cut $20/wk from DPB mum's who don't dob in the father.
This could start small with a $20/wk fine for not being addiled with Drugs. They already dangle enough carrots to buldgers - free tattoo removal, free driver licenses, etc.. 
What about a disincentive.
New Zealand needs to seriously address the whole welfare dependece class which it has foster for more the 60 years.. . The DPB parent with 3-4 kids, the 10+yr dole bludger.
The Australian Complusory Income Management Scheme needs to be closely evaluated. It requires 70% of benefits are spent on priority goods and services. It ensures Dad does not blow the weekly benefit on the pokies or at the pub each Thursday night. It started in the Northern Terriorties but is in use in QLD, NSW and Vic. 
 

No goldenfox - they are cheap.
 
Local Authority management and their central government cohorts trying to justify their ~$500,000.00 salaries are the problem. 
 
These boys and gals panic about how to justify their incomes and create stupid capital intensive job justification schemes that cost borrowed capital way beyond taxpayer's ability to service and repay. Runs into $billions. I would sack all but the maintenance staff and reassess the situation.

Don't give the mother anything unless she names the father. 
 
Then go after him to support his family.

Great now we have solved the problem of getting people off the benefit, now we just need to create them some jobs.....oops there aren't any.
 
But get used to the process of cutting back welfare, it has to happen as part of the process. So while you sit there and think yeah get the lazy bastards out working, think which benefit is next. Solo mothers? Pensioners? They will all get their turn and those that are working will be left to pickup the tab and support them directly.

A lot of what we're seeing all around the world has a single driver:  a shrinking pie. 
 
Mancur Olson used to talk about 'distributional coalitions' and the response from these groups (defined as being funded primarliy by re-distribution rather than by actual, say, sales of value-added goods or services) to any threat to their revenue flows is, shall we say, primal.
 
So the notion that the Redistributers-in-Chief, actually pre-empt the whole thing is shurely a Good Thang?
 
Because the alternatives are much less pretty - the Ship of Fools, updated with modern technology.....

 

"a drug test should be included as part of an application for a benefit"

 

Now that wouldn't go down well with the working for families beneficiaries.

I had an idea regarding the unemployment benefit a while ago, and I'd like to hear some opposing viewpoints - ie. Why wouldn't this work?

The premise is based on the old terminology, "Collecting the Dole".

We don't even expect people to 'collect' their social welfare payments - we deliver it to them. This reinforces the learned behaviour that beneficiaries don't even need to get out of bed or come down from their drug-fueled haze to receive the taxpayers' largesse. (And reinforcing that stereotype at the same time.)

The premise is that the unemployed would be required to 'attend' the WINZ office for 40hrs/wk and would be 'paid' according to their hours 'clocked in' at their local regional center.

Rather than being a 'work for the dole' scheme (which some would argue removes jobs & opportunity from private enterprise) this would instead be more rehabilitive. Eg. Remedial teaching for the illiterate. Job seeking & CV writing workshops, etc. There would also need to be recreational facilities - this is not intented to be punitive.

You would need a mechanism for refusing entry to the intoxicated & disruptive, and also provide sick & holiday leave equivalent to any normal workplace.

The underlying driver is to engage the unemployed in 'work-like' behaviour and equip them effectively to re-enter the workforce, rather than leaving them idle, bored, neglected and readily funded. (a recipe for disaster IMHO)

Naturally, there would be significant investment required to achieve this. Question is - Is it worth the effort? Could the system be easily subverted?

Sounds similar to what they do in the UK.  Would have to hammer out the details on things like childcare, transport costs, not requiring attendance from those already enrolled in Uni or polytech courses, but things like basic literacy, numeracy and computer skills could be valuable.  All a bit futile without real jobs to move on to, though.  That's what really makes the difference.

Because you are only addressing a minority of beneficiaries. Unemployed make up perhaps 20%, so that really isn't going to change welfare dependency. You are scratching at the surface of far deeper problems, one of those is simply not enough resources to continue to grow. Ask yourself this, is unemployment rate the fault of beneficiaries?

You're both correct in that this will not solve all the 'welfare' problems in one hit. Nor will it inherently provide jobs for those that can't or won't find them. What it WILL do, is immediately bring a halt to the status quo which sees many thousands of (mostly) young, disenfranchised, poorly educated, indolent beneficiaries being paid an allowance with no reciprocal obligations. They have nothing to do & nowhere to go. It's a perfect incubator for crime, drug abuse, and (dare i go there?) breeding more of the same.
 
EDIT:  forgot to mention, one of the key outcomes of this would be to keep our unemployed 'job ready'.  ie. things like, getting out of bed at 7am and catching a bus to the place where you 'earn' your money are no longer an impossible hurdle to overcome.  Things like being regularly drunk/hungover/high (on a school night) have consequences.   In short - keep the 'good' habits ingrained.

Seems like a sensible idea (for a change). This exact point came up in a focus group on local employment for the ChCh rebuild, that I attended yesterday. I heard that this happens quite a lot: able bodied and unemployed men looking for a job in construction turn away, as soon as they hear about the drug test.
So the jobs are there, people are available and willing but their drug use prevents them from taking the employment. 
If they have an addiction, that should be treated as a medical issue and treated appropriately. Otherwise, this sounds like a very prudent idea. Drug testing is becoming commonplace in the workforce and not just in construction or other higher risk jobs. 
Certainly worth exploring further. 

But it isn't a problem when someone gets an mps job -- no drug test, no alcohol test ....
This is the continuing pattern of national dog whistling when there is siomething embarrasing or contraversial to distract us from.
And judging from the biggoted comments here it works.

11500 jobs of trade me -- many others never advertised - and plenty of fruit picking work that Kiwi's dont want as they are better of on the dole!
step one - reduce benifts to 50% of minimum wage maximum --- work pays!
step two - require daily attendance to recieve benifit -  --- not working is a pain in the ass
step thee - provide job  skills programs - literacy, numeracy -  take away the excuses
step four - anyone not attending an interview or failing a drug test is stepped down for 3 months each offence ---  you must be available and actively seeking work
step five -- get rid of WFF and other welfare rorts -   better education = better paying job
 
we need to create a culture that rewards hard work and effort more and makes laziness and idleness less attractive

A slow plod away from the socialist madness toward the attitudes held by 99.9% of the country in the 1930s and earlier.....if there is work on offer take the job and the pain involved because your family needs you to do so...
Today the country suffers from decades of socialist drivel policies to the extent that the prevailing attitude is...'the govt owes me a wage cos they do and I don't gotta do nuffin to get it see, now pass me the bag of grass so I can roll another joint'

.... the Gummster had to " submit " to a drug & alcohol test recently , at a tuna processing factory .....
 
It gave me some considerable pleasure to see the doctor , an older lady , but stunningly " hot " , handling the Gummy wee-wee ....
 
.... you have to look for the " upside " of any situation ....... I guess I'm just a " the glass is half full of urine " sort of guy ....

Doctor's report on Urine sample from Gummy Bear Hero:
one part Urine...one part alcohol....

I agree with the general idea of drug testing beneficiaries, and Doc's idea that they should require "collecting" rather than be delivered to your door.
That said, unemployment welfare is the "least bad" of all the major forms of welfare. I genuinely feel sorry for the unemployed, as a good majority of them would rather have jobs than not, and we all know that unemployment is miserable experience.
On the other hand, in order from bad to worse, here are other forms of welfare we should be targeting: sickness beneficiaries, student allowances,  working for families, and worst of all, the DPB. Laws also need to be changed to prevent wealthy elderly from pretending they're poor using a trust fund and then receiving accommodation allowances from the government.
 
 
 

OKAY, just so that we are all on the same page....according to the consensus aired here....our social welfare system shouldn't be punitive, but should be thoroughly controlled and aimed at disincentivising the collection of state handouts to anyone who has fatherless children out of wedlock, is idle, illiterate and indulging in drugs, alcohol, gambling, non-essential consumerism, unprotected fornication and any form of antisocial behaviour or activity.
I remember reading George Orwell's 1984 when I was a kid and feeling pangs of anxiety that such a robust Totalitarian state could ever exist in my lifetime! It was written as the rise of Fascism was engulfing Europe and was initially titled 1948. The book was visionary and pretty close to a reality as desired by redneck control freaks like Golden F@! et al.
How do we control the masses and infantilize the people who we feel superior to - I know, let's shape them and mould them into replicas of the national ideals that we feel comfortable with - let's clone our perfect selves.
And if they are brown, or slant eyed and have difficulties understanding english (I don't mean Bill) and have non-military tatooes only more reasons to blacklist a few more bludgers.
And when times turn really bad economically and we find things are totally unsustainable let's put them into forced labour and separate the men from the women so they can no longer propagate.
And when we find their upkeep financially untenable let's round them up into camps and.....................and......
 
 

The pot's calling the kettle black, once you remember Muldoon calling the Schnapps Election.

I understand that job seeker beneficiaries should have a moral responsibility to be in a position to take an available job. After all they are living off the taxes of hard working New Zealanders. Unfortunately, not everyone lives by the same moral values. In the news we hear about children going to school unfeed and cold, don’t their parents have a moral responsibility to ensure they can afford to take care of children before they have them? So are these parents going to be the next target for this government, remove these children and give them to wealthy households that can afford them? It wasn’t that long ago that governments were talking about the beneficiary cycle, where children were brought up in a households that relied on benefits and then repeated this cycle. Is that no longer a valid excuse to be receiving a benefit?
We have to be careful as to where to draw the line.
At this stage, with current legislation, employers can drug test staff if the position or workplace is safety sensitive. Under the OSH Act it is an employer’s legal obligation to provide a safe workplace. Using this legislation an employer can justify the testing of employees, as where an employee is impaired by drugs or alcohol this could put themselves or others in harm’s way. However, if this justification isn’t there employers could be in breach of an employee’s right to privacy. Current drug testing shows historical drug use but the only legal reason to test is for safety reasons. The social smoke that you had last weekend could still be in your system and cost you a job. Why should something that you did in your own time, that won’t impair your ability to do work tasks today, cost you that opportunity.
Everyone has the basic human right to privacy. The current testing system potentially breaches this right, because of the historical readings from the testing. The test can tell your employer that you use drugs, not if socially or addicted.“It’s a bit like me being tested for alcohol. I had a glass of red wine last night. If I test positive for alcohol today but I’m not intoxicated, should I lose my job? It doesn’t make sense; it’s a breach of civil liberties.” (Victoria University’s Julian Buchanan)
The testing of beneficiaries is potentially going to breach this right to privacy. Firstly, can we be sure that beneficiaries are only going to be tested when been put forward for a job that requires drug testing. Secondly, are we sure that only employers who work in safety sensitive work places will be requesting drug tested job seekers. This I see as quite a major concern. In my place of employment I deal with staff from government organisations and I am well aware of the lack of training that they seem to have in regards to the basic’s such as client privacy. Based on this knowledge, my concern is that “Mr A” who owns the local takeaway bar, may come to a work broker at WINZ and request an employee that has been drug tested. The only reason for this would be based on the perception of loss of productivity with a staff member that uses drugs. Would the work broker have the knowledge to tell “Mr A” that they can’t honor this request as they would then be breaching their client’s right to privacy?
Another curve ball to add to this argument is the following:Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said about 40 per cent of the jobs listed at Work and Income required drug testing. "It's reasonable for employers to expect people to be drug free." Based on what we know about the law and the fact that only safety specific employers can be requesting drug testing without been at risk of breaching the privacy rights of employees, I would have to make the assumption that 40% of employers going to WINZ for employees must be working in a high risk field. Forestry would probably be a good example. There has been a lot of publicity lately around the deaths in this industry, as a mother I think I would prefer my son to be having a casual “smoke” and never be eligible to work in this industry. You would think that high risk work places would actually be looking for highly trained staff rather than trying to source cheap labour of the benefit. Maybe these employers are going to WINZ for employees as it is too difficult for them to get staff due to the risk involved in the industry. In saying this, on the WINZ website, in the Gisborne area there are currently 5 jobs listed, none of which would justify drug testing for safety reasons. (Surprisingly there were no forestry jobs advertised at this time).
Another area of concern is training for employers. I would like to think that they are not just going to jump on the band wagon and start sourcing employees through WINZ simply because they can request drug testing. When approached by drug testing companies, employers need to be aware that these companies are trying to market their products. I believe that these companies also have a moral responsibility to inform these employers about the legal implications should they not actually have a potential safety issue. I am aware that some of these drug testing companies run seminars, and are not educating employers about the potential breach in privacy.
So in summing up, Paula Bennett may get away with breaching job seekers right to privacy simply due to lack of knowledge by those affected by this situation.

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