Orange councillors say they wouldn’t object to being tested for drugs and alcohol.
With testing prevalent in a range of industries including police and mining, the councillors saw no reason why they should be exempt.
However, none of them thought any of the councillors use illicit drugs or are affected by alcohol at meetings.
The Central Western Daily approached the councillors after Bathurst councillor Alex Christian raised the issue at the Bathurst Regional Council policy committee meeting last week where he said council staff were tested quarterly but the people making the “big decisions” were not.
Orange deputy mayor Joanne McRae said she had nothing to hide and wasn’t opposed to the idea but questioned the necessity of drug testing councillors.
“I think it comes back to what’s a good use of ratepayer funds and I don’t think quarterly drug testing of councillors is a good use of ratepayer funds,” Cr McRae said.
However, she said if drug concerns were raised they should be followed up.
Cr McRae said employees are drug tested as part of their contract, especially if operating heavy machinery, while police have access to loaded firearms and tasers and have to make quick solo decisions in high-pressure environments.
She said Orange is also ahead of Bathurst Regional Council in terms of transparency, especially with Orange live-streaming council meetings and making councillors visible to the public.
Orange mayor Reg Kidd said the live-streaming makes councillors more accountable and mindful of their behaviour.
However, if alcohol testing was introduced he said a blood alcohol limit would have to be set because alcohol is served at many functions councillors attend.
When it came to drug use he said given the demographic of the current council, prescription drugs would be the drugs that are used.
However, along with councillor and former police officer Tony Mileto he did not agree with testing for prescription medication and said it would be a privacy breach.
“I would be opposed to it if it’s prescription medication for health reasons because people are required to take medication for blood pressure and heart conditions, illicit drugs I have no issues with,” Cr Mileto said.
“At the end of the day the residents and ratepayers of Orange have to have confidence that representatives attending meetings and engagements are doing so with a clear sound mind.”