Moral Framings in the Australian Parliamentary Debate on Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients


Around the world an expanding array of behavioural conditions are being attached to social security payments. This paper offers empirical evidence of the various moral frames used in the welfare conditionality debate, by both its supporters and detractors. We systematically analyse the debates in the Australian federal parliament in 2017 and 2018 on two bills attempting to introduce drug testing of working-age welfare recipients, each of which resulted in stalemate. We find that proponents of welfare conditionality primarily employed contractualist, communitarian, and paternalist arguments in support of their position, whilst opponents primarily employed consequentialist and social justice arguments. We explore how proponents and opponents anticipated and tried to directly counter each other’s preferred moral frames. By investigating the normative lenses that underpin arguments made for and against the drug testing proposal, we shed light on how the debate on drug testing might be moved beyond its current impasse.

Email Naomi Snowball for the zoom details

Date & time

Wed 24 Feb 2021, 2–3pm


Zoom or the RSSS Theatre


Katherine Curchin


Naomi Snowball
02 6125 1301


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