Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has dismissed the Morrison Government’s plan to tackle religious discrimination and hardened her stance against drug tests for welfare recipients. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.
In a blow to the Government, Senator Lambie said voters were more worried about jobs and hospitals than Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s bid to protect religious freedom.
The outspoken crossbencher, whose vote could be decisive on the contentious proposals, said the law on religious freedom could “stay as it is” given feedback she’d received from voters suggested they saw no need for change.
“They have more important things to talk about like homelessness, not enough jobs, public hospitals completely out of control, so it is not something that is feeding back from the electorate through to me,” she told the ABC. “They seem to be satisfied … nobody wants to talk about it.”
The Government has warned against threats to religious freedom and issued draft laws to set up a new freedom of religion commissioner to protect those who suffered discrimination on the grounds of faith.
The Government also had a setback in its bid to impose random drug tests on welfare recipients after Senator Lambie raised new concerns about a lack of rehabilitation services linked to the plan. She said Government services needed to be fixed before the proposed welfare changes went ahead.
The Coalition has argued for several years that welfare recipients should be subject to random drug and alcohol tests and those who failed should be referred for treatment to keep their Government payments.
The Government policy is to set up a $10 million treatment fund for those who fail the random drug tests over a two-year trial period at Logan in Queensland, Canterbury-Bankstown in NSW and Mandurah in Western Australia.
Nadine Ezard, the clinical director of the drug and alcohol unit at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, estimated there were 500,000 people who needed treatment for drugs and alcohol but could not get the help they needed.
“We’re against it because our expertise and experience tells us that this isn’t the way to help people into treatment,” Associate Professor Ezard said of the Government policy.
Government loses ground in crucial fights over agenda (Sydney Morning Herald)