Jacqui Lambie and Waleed Aly clash over drug tests for welfare recipients

Jacqui Lambie and Waleed Aly clashed on Monday night in a heated debate over drug testing for welfare recipients.

The senator appeared on The Project to discuss her position on the new proposals from the government to drug test thousands of Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients.

A robust Ms Lambie was firm in her stance that all public sector workers should also be subject to drug testing and not just those receiving handouts.

Aly appeared skeptical of her proposal as he picked holes in her suggestion, prompting Ms Lambie to hit back as she became irritated by the co-host’s failure to get his head around the proposal.

“If I am right, what you are saying is that you have been presented with a proposal about drug testing people on welfare, and your counter-proposal is - let's drug test everyone in the public service, which is millions of people?,” Aly asked.

“It is random,' Lambie quipped.

“It is random drug and alcohol testing, Waleed, and they are not testing everybody.”

Aly had scrutinised her proposal, pointing out that it would include professors at non-private universities and ABC journalists.

Waleed Aly and Jacqui Lambie clash on the the Channel 10 show. Source: The Project
Waleed Aly and Jacqui Lambie clash on the the Channel 10 show. Source: The Project

“I don't care where you are working. There is no reason why you shouldn't have random drug and alcohol tests. We have massive drug problems in this country, for goodness sake!”

Ms Lambie continued, claiming the new scheme was discriminatory to the lower class of the nation.

“Why discriminate, why is it only the poor?” she asked.

“Why is it only the poor that we have to go after? Are we too good, none of us do alcohol and drugs or anything?

“That is rubbish, drugs do not discriminate, certainly ice does not.”

She argued if the mining and construction industries implemented drug testing, “public purse” roles should also be subject to them.

Aly argued drug testing for manual labour jobs was for safety but Lambie was quick to point out the responsibilities of others currently without testing.

“I’ve got teachers out there and academics out there teaching kids Waleed,” she said.

“I’ve also got these politicians up here making decisions about billions of dollars.”

Ms Lambie previously indicated she would "absolutely" support the drug testing trials if federal politicians were also screened for illicit substances.

Drug rehabilitation needed first

But while she has called for the government’s proposals to be tweaked, Ms Lambie said she won't vote for the coalition government's plan until she sees thousands of drug rehabilitation beds in place around Australia.

"You show me when the buildings go up, you show me when the beds go in there, then we'll discuss it," she told ABC News on Monday.

"We're not voting for this bill because I already know the services are not there."

Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick said his party did not support the drug testing because evidence from overseas showed it did not work.

"At this point in time things haven't changed from when we didn't support it in the 45th parliament," he told Sky News.

The legislation includes a $10 million "treatment fund" to boost rehabilitation services across the trial sites.

"I am really puzzled by the level of opposition to the government trying to tackle a problem of drug addiction for people who aren't in work," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told The 7:30 Report.

"(We're) helping them get over it with referral to proper services and funding those services in those trial areas and if that works, well, that gives us the opportunity to take that out more broadly that."

The coalition will bring the drug-testing bill through the lower house in the next fortnight, before taking it to the Senate at the earliest opportunity after that.

The Australian Council of Social Service is urging parliament to reject what it says is a "demeaning, expensive" drug-testing plan and the expansion of the "impractical" cashless welfare card.

Cashless welfare cards, which quarantine 80 per cent of payments so they can only be spent on essentials, are currently in use across four trial sites in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland.

Nationals backbencher Barnaby Joyce has no qualms about MPs being drug tested.

"I don't think you should vote if you're wired."

The two-year drug testing trial would be rolled out in three locations - Logan in Queensland, Canterbury-Bankstown in NSW and Mandurah in WA.

With AAP

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play and stay up to date with the latest news with Yahoo’s daily newsletter. Sign up here.