The NSW government has announced a Special Commission of Inquiry into ice (crystal methamphetamine) with Nationals candidate for Lismore Austin Curtin making it clear that the government is putting all options on the table.
‘It is crucial the government understands every option to combat the evolving threat of this dangerous, illegal drug – and to outline methods to help those who need it,’ said Mr Austin.
The War on Drugs has been recognised around the world as a failure with at least 26 countries decriminalising drug use and many shifting the emphasis away from a criminal issue to a health issue.
‘Given the Premier has promised that all options are on the table, finally, the government won’t be able to ignore the experts who have been demonstrating for years that drugs policy saves lives when it is treated as a health issue, not a criminal one,’ said Sue Higginson, Greens candidate for Lismore.
‘As a lawyer I have seen first hand the enormous resources currently being wasted prosecuting individuals for drug use and diverting taxpayer’s money into a war on drugs which has failed dismally. Not only is the current approach not working, it is actively harming the people we are supposed to be helping,’ said Ms Higginson.
Tamara Smith, Member for Ballina agreed saying that she welcomed the inquiry ‘but the NSW government needs to treat drug use as a health issue rather than a purely criminal one.
‘Resources are currently being wasted prosecuting individuals for drug use and diverting taxpayer’s money into a war on drugs which has failed dismally,’ said Ms Smith.
Labor candidate for Lismore Janelle Saffin has said Labor is ‘committed to a broader drug summit modelled on the 1999 one, that brought in knowledge, research, experience and resulted in understanding and change.
‘A Daley government – if elected in March 2019 – will bring together patients, health workers, former addicts, parents, police, judges and experts to determine appropriate policy responses and services needed. We do know that we need more rehabilitation facilities and Labor has committed to six additional ones, with four being in rural and regional areas.
‘The recent NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into the provision of rehabilitation services in rural, regional and remote areas in NSW found a dearth of services.
‘We have missed out on the services we need to help our communities.’
What will the inquiry tackle?
The Special Commission of Inquiry will inquire into, and report on:
- the nature, prevalence and impact of ice in NSW;
- the adequacy of existing measures to tackle ice in NSW; and
- options to strengthen NSW’s response to ice, including law enforcement, education and treatment/rehabilitation responses.
The establishment of this inquiry comes on top of the extensive measures implemented by the NSW Government to tackle ice, including:
- improving the ability of police to confiscate the assets of serious criminals, including drug dealers and traffickers;
- tightening controls on pseudoephedrine – one of the main precursors used to make ice; and
- cracking down on drug driving by more than tripling the number of roadside drug tests in 2016-17, increasing to 200,000 roadside drug tests per year by 2020.