We've had a pretty busy day thus far, and haven't had the chance to listen to a lot of radio. So we haven't heard much reaction to the Government's proposal to cut the benefits beneficiaries who are refusing drug tests rather than applying for work.
The Herald outlines the policy proposal:
The Prime Minister has defended the latest round of welfare reforms cutting the benefits of people who fail or refuse to take a drug test.The National-led Government says there are now no consequences for drug-takers who opt out of job applications when faced with a drug test.The details on new rules targeting beneficiaries who take drugs were being finalised by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett but could take effect in 2013.National's pre-election policy document said beneficiaries who did not apply for a job because a prospective employer asked them to take a drug test would have their benefit cancelled.Under new rules, a beneficiary that takes a drug test and fails it will also be sanctioned.Prime Minister John Key said on TVNZ's Breakfast today that tax payers should not be supporting drug-users who refuse jobs that involve drug testing."If we're paying you a benefit; your responsibility is to be work ready, and to be work ready means that you can go along and actually pass that drugs test.Otherwise we're sending completely that wrong message - we're actually condoning illegal behaviour.''Mr Key said this morning people would turn down jobs because they knew they would not pass a drug test."The young person will often say there's no point in sending me along. I know they drug test at those organisations; I will fail the test because I smoked marijuana on Saturday night. We're all meant to sit back and say 'well that's fine, we'll just carry on paying your benefit and everything is fine.'"Well I don't think that's acceptable to hard working Kiwis who are paying for that benefit,'' he said."Choosing to take drugs and expecting not to be work tested solely for that reason alone is unacceptable.''
We support this initiative, and it seems as though support will be widespread. The Herald is running a poll on the issue, and here are the current standings after more than 11,000 people have responded:
That's a pretty convincing margin, and we can't say that we're surprised. Whether or not people like it, the use of most "recreational" drugs is illegal in New Zealand. And most reasonable people will agree that spending benefit money on illegal drugs is not the intended purpose of that benefit money.
Parliament may well be in its two-week school holiday recess, but there has been very little adverse comment so far, either from parties within Parliament, or from the usual suspects outside the House. Maybe that is indicative of general approval for a policy direction that most people agree with, but which previous governments (note the use of the plural) have been too timid to even contemplate.