HIGHER PRIORITY: Gympie's Wide Bay federal MP Llew O'Brien says jobs and infrastructure (including the Bruce Hwy road toll) are still his main priorities, but drug testing politicians and judges should be part of our
HIGHER PRIORITY: Gympie's Wide Bay federal MP Llew O'Brien says jobs and infrastructure (including the Bruce Hwy road toll) are still his main priorities, but drug testing politicians and judges should be part of our "national discussion”. Renee Albrecht

O'Brien: Expose drugged or drunk judges and politicians

GYMPIE'S Wide Bay federal MP, Llew O'Brien has backed an Independent senator's call for drug and alcohol testing of MPs, especially when they speak in federal parliament.

And he says the same standard should be applied to the judiciary.

Mr O'Brien was commenting on his Government's plan to impose testing on people receiving unemployment benefit recipients.

Iddependent senator Laqui Lambie responded that it should also be extended to MPs.

Mr O'Brien said judges also should be subject to the same standards.

"As a police officer most of my life, I was exposed to a policy of drug and alcohol testing.

"When you work at a one or two-officer police station, you are on call all the time and you are never allowed to be over 0.05%.

"You can have a beer or two and you might be 0.02% or 0.03% but not over the driving limit.

"That is what applies to people enforcing the law.

"When you're making the law, the same sort of community expectation should be met," he said.

"My view is that whilst the reasons are very different, this is a good trigger for what I see as a conversation in the community about what is expected of people in office, including politicians and judges

"I think it's very reasonable, particularly alcohol testing, as would be the case for someone operating machinery or working in an industry where you have the potential to harm someone.

"In parliament you are immune from prosecution or defamation action when you speak.

"There have been cases of people being seriously damaged by what goes on in what some call the 'Coward's Castle'.

"It's an option to apply the rules as they apply at somewhere like Nolan's (Gympie's Nolan Meats processing plant) at the moment.

"Why not politicians?

"When you have responsibilities affecting people's lives you should be at your absolute best, and I would extend that to judges, wherever you are making decisions affecting people's lives.

"I don't think people should be making decisions in the parliamentary chamber if they're over 0.05%.

"Policing drug and alcohol laws is a state responsibility. This is entirely different," he said, adding that this also applied to the New Start requirement, which was not intended to lead to prosecution.

"This is just applying a community standard to a person in a position of trust."

On drug testing the unemployed, as put forward in the new federal budget, he said: "This does not get them prosecuted. It is about helping people.

"I support the policy of drug testing New Start recipients.

"If they know they have to go for a test and they still fail it, that could be some indication why they are not working.

"If we can help people with a problem, that's good."

That said, Mr O'Brien said it was not his major priority, even if it did grab the major media headline.

"My priority is jobs and infrastructure in Wide Bay.

"I suppose it is a little disappointing that something like this grabs national prominence when I am working so hard to raise other issues, like highway infrastructure and the road toll, that are much more important.

"But it is fair enough to have this discussion. Imagine a Government in power by one seat and a rule that if you're over the limit you can't vote.

"It would work and it would be enforced.

"I still want to be able to do the pub test when I am at home and off duty, but not when I'm at work, especially in parliament.

"I don't see politicians rolling around drunk, but then you see a lot of people who can walk in a straight line from the pub to their car, but then a breath test shows they shouldn't be behind the wheel," he said.

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