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Australian drug tests for elected officials to send positive message

Since 2015, the city of Hobart has been testing its staff for drugs.

The decision is not yet final, but if passed, drug testing will extend to councillors, who previously opted to exclude themselves.

According to Christina Holmdahl, West Tamar Mayor, it will send a positive message to the community, showing responsibility.

Despite the drug testing programme experiencing some pushback from the unions, it has been well received.

The original idea was to introduce it for health and safety benefits.

During the procedure, staff members are tested for the presence of drugs with mouth swabs.

Initially, the programme included all staff, but now, random individuals are selected two-to-three times per year.

An independent Tasmanian company carries out the testing and also administers urine tests if any positives come up.

The results are confidential.

The staff embraced the testing with a positive attitude.

In particular, whenever there is a reasonable suspicion that an individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or as part of a random test, they can be tested for the following:

  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opiates

Also, work experience students, volunteers, and apprentices can be tested if deemed necessary.

The council’s reports state that, to date, no councillor has tested positive.


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