Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has lived and breathed the devastating impact of drug addiction during the years her son struggled with ice.
One glance at the photographs of Dylan Milverton before and after treatment for drug addiction show the incredible transformation after 12 months of rehabilitation at the Teen Challenge Camp in Queensland.
It’s that personal struggle that’s informed her decision to reject the Morrison government’s plans for a trial to drug test welfare recipients unless more rehabilitation services are provided.
“This isn’t really about getting people off drugs. It’s about kicking people off payments,” she said.
“You can’t punish someone for being on drugs if they don’t have the help available to get them off it. We have to get the services in place to help people.
“It’s one rule for them, one for everyone else. They don’t want a breathalyser at the chamber doors after those long dinner breaks where half of them get on the sauce”
Senator Lambie said she was also concerned it would force drug addicts to turn to crime.
“Making an addict more desperate doesn’t make them more healthy,” she said.
“They just become a junkie with a habit to service and no money to service it with. So what you end up seeing is more cars being broken into, more TVs being flogged at Cash Converters, more prostitution, more crime, more cost and no fewer drug addicts.”
Forced to kick her son out of home after his ice addiction spiralled, she reached rock bottom after realising the only thing that would stop him was jail.
“I sometimes pray and think, you know, he is going to end up in jail,’ she said at the time.
She hoped that a court would send him to a rehabilitation program as an alternative to prison – and that’s exactly what happened in 2015
Mr Milverton received a two-month suspended jail sentence four years ago for a range of offences, including using counterfeit money.
He faced a jail term but it was suspended on the condition that he attend a Queensland Teen Challenge rehab centre near Toowoomba.
While initially angered by his mother’s decision to go public with his drug battle, Mr Milverton’s personal story now appears on the website of Teen Challenge.
“I was in and out of courtrooms when I was younger. I was homeless. I was lost,” he said.
“When I first heard about Teen Challenge through my mum, I wasn’t too keen on the idea. It wasn’t something I did on my own, it was something I did through the staff and through God.”
Earlier on Monday, Liberal Senator Eric Abetz agreed he was happy to be drug tested if it convinced Senator Lambie to back the legislation.
“If it takes me to have a drug test, to get Jacqui Lambie over the line I am more than willing to submit,” he said.
But despite calling for politicians to be drug tested if they wanted to introduce the scheme for welfare recipients, Senator Lambie said that wasn’t enough to get her vote.
“They say taxpayers don’t want their money going to drug dealers. What, are they going to test every ABC journo? Every pensioner? Every war veteran? Every school teacher? Let’s get real,” she said.
“This isn’t about who is getting tax dollars, it’s about who’s easy to take them from.”