Schools, Random Drug Testing

05 May 2004 questionsarchive
A question put forward to the Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Industry, Trade and Regional Development) regarding random drug testing in schools.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Industry, Trade and Regional Development, representing the Premier, a question about random drug testing in schools.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Members of this chamber would be familiar with the Premier’s strong friendship with the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and their shared love of the New Labour philosophy. Premier Rann has spent time with Blair in the UK, sharing ideas. Apparently, the Blair government has scouts posted with various states governments to assist in spreading the word and to share Blair’s successful publicity techniques. Tony Blair has come up with a proposal that will allegedly protect students from their own evil ways by encouraging British schools to introduce random drug testing.

In an article published in the London Times entitled ‘If only random testing could drive the opiate of pandering to tabloid prejudices out of the Prime Minister’s bloodstream’ it was reported, as follows:

Focus groups have told him (Mr Blair) that voters believe that young people are out of control. Something must be done. So the Prime Minister casts around for a solution that costs the government no money but sounds as if he is ‘cracking down’.

We do know that we have a serious issue in South Australia with young people taking both legal and illegal substances.

However, one of the issues with drug testing is that less harmful illicit substances have slower clearance rates from the bloodstream than more dangerous drugs. So, while cannabis can remain in the bloodstream for over a month, heroin is cleared within a matter of days and cocaine and ecstasy will disappear within hours.

So, half smart kids may well view risky behaviour as avoiding the drug that is more likely to get you caught, rather than the one that has the highest risks. My question is: will the Premier rule out any proposal to introduce random drug testing in South Australian schools?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Industry, Trade and Regional Development): I will refer that question—I think it would be more properly to the Minister for Education and Children’s Services—and bring back a reply.



Monday 19 July 2004

In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (5 May).

The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS: The Minister for Education and Children’s Services has provided the following information:

In 2004 the Department of Education and Children’s Services distributed a document to all government schools called Intervention matters: a policy statement and procedural framework for the management of suspected drug-related incidents in schools. The document outlines a rigorous and fair process for responding to suspected drug-related incidents. The process is designed as a proactive and preventive measure to deter student drug use.

Intervention matters makes clear that no school has the authority to insist on drug testing of students. It is not proposed to introduce random drug testing.