Councillors concerned Mandurah singled out in Federal Govt welfare drug trial

Councillors concerned Mandurah singled out in Federal Govt welfare drug trial

THE recent Federal Government announcement of a drug testing trial for new Mandurah welfare recipients has raised concern among City of Mandurah councillors.

The council plans to urge the Federal Government to focus on the region’s top priority of creating jobs rather than the trial.

At a special council meeting last night council stressed its priority was creating employment.

Rather than Mandurah being used as a trial site, the council voted to support community-based initiatives to reduce drug use, subject to consultation with the community and the development of a treatment pathway in conjunction with a local provider.

The council was concerned there had been no consultation before the announcement.

Councillor Fred Riebeling said the trial had the potential to increase the crime rate and had little chance of success.

“The announcement was a bit surprising but the rhetoric that came with it was more surprising,’’ he said.

“There were a number of assumptions made that need to be discussed.”

Cr Reibeling claimed the trial announcement had demonised the unemployed and inferred they were all drug users.

“The image of Mandurah was trashed as the only place with a drug problem,’’ he said.

“I acknowledge the problem but our product, that has taken years and years to cultivate, has been damaged.

“This area does have a problem but there is no proof that it is worse than anywhere else.

“There was no consultation with the council, police or service providers.

“The real problem is unemployment and I hope Canning MHR Andrew Hastie will take this on board.”

Mayor Marina Vergone said that as well as the lack of liaison, there was also no information about the treatment process and support services available should an individual be referred for treatment.

She said it was a concern that Mandurah had been singled out and its reputation damaged.

Chief executive Mark Newman said the City was not happy with the trial announcement but understood it was only a trial.

“We have not said we are against it,’’ he said.

“At least it’s a step in the right direction.”

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