Stopping welfare payments for people who test positive to drugs may result in some turning to a life of crime, according to a former south-west policeman.
Andrew Atkinson, who was a member of Victoria Police for 26 years, said he had a number of concerns over the Morrison government's proposal to screen 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients for illicit substances.
Recipients who test positive would have their welfare payments quarantined - with 80 per cent put on a cashless card - and be required to attend drug counselling sessions.
"People will resort to other means to find income to support a drug habit," Mr Atkinson said.
"Restricting access to funds doesn't address the underlying issues. There needs to be a 'whole of community' approach to drug and alcohol issues."
He said the issues needed to be treated as a community health issue, with more education and treatment options available for people with drug issues.
Recovering ice addict Belinda Unmack said people with a drug addiction would often use extreme measures to access money.
She said the state needed more in-patient treatment centres for people battling from addiction.
In addition to that, Ms Unmack said she believed people who had committed a crime to fund their drug addiction were often let off with a light sentence.
"Too many people get out on bail," she said.
"If they end up in jail hopefully it will teach them a lesson."
Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said he supported the proposal.
"I think it should be undertaken so we can see whether it will help people break their addictions and get them into work," Mr Tehan said.
He said the government wanted to help people break their habit to allow them to gain employment.
The federal government has promised to spend an extra $10 million on rehabilitation services across three trial sites for the proposal.
The government estimates this could mean up to $65,000 worth of treatment for each person who tests positive.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is puzzled by the level of opposition to his plan.
"You try things because these are difficult problems and you have to ensure that you're having a go at trying to fix these problems," he said.
"Now, if you're not prepared to do that, well, you're clearly not committed to trying to address this issue."
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said resurrecting the idea was a cynical attempt to whip up political conflict.
"The Prime Minister now wants you to pee in a cup in a demeaning way as a part of his picking fights with the Labor Party," he said.
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