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Byron Shire
June 24, 2021

NSW govt report calls for decriminalising personal drug use

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Aslan Shand

The NSW Berejiklian government was forced to release the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ Report last Thursday after sitting on it for a month. The release came about when the government realised a motion by the Greens to call for papers would have passed in the Upper House. 

Photo: Shutterstock

Both Labor and The Greens have criticised the failure to release the report, saying it has put lives in danger. 

‘It’s unacceptable that the Premier kept this important report hidden for almost a month despite repeated requests for its release from medical experts and families impacted by the drug ice,’ Greens MP and Drug Law Reform and Harm Minimisation spokesperson Cate Faehrmann, said. 

The report was commissioned by the NSW government in November 2018 to look at the impacts, current measures, and response to crystal methamphetamine – also known as ‘ice’ – and other illicit amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) in NSW. 

Ms Faehrmann is now urging the NSW Premier to support the recommendations in the report, including the decriminalisation of all drugs for personal use. 

However, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that at least five recommendations will not be supported. These include additional medically-supervised injecting centres, stopping the use of drug detection dogs, placing needle and syringe programs in correctional centres and limiting police strip-search powers so as not to focus on mere drug possession.

Falling behind

‘The 109 recommendations that the Commissioner [Dan Howard], has provided to the NSW government provide the basis for NSW to be at the forefront of responding to drugs and reducing drug-related harm in NSW. It is very disappointing that the government has already ruled out five of those recommendations,’ said Professor Alison Ritter AO, who submitted evidence to the inquiry.

Labor Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said: ‘The Berejiklian Liberals and Nationals have failed to address the ice epidemic sweeping across our state.

‘This report states unequivocally that it has been “10 years since NSW had a drug and alcohol strategy,” leaving “gaps in services” and having “a clear lack of direction” to address the scourge of ice.’

Mr Park further accuses the Liberal National coalition of having ‘wound back world-leading drug reforms, closing the Youth Drug Court in 2012, and cutting the GP Liaison Service.

‘Adding insult to injury the Berejiklian Liberals and Nationals won’t even make a final response to this important Inquiry until the end of the year,’ said Mr Park. 

‘This epidemic can’t be left in the too-hard pile for another year. Ms Berejiklian needs to immediately respond to this report from her handpicked commissioners, and outline how her Liberals and Nationals will implement evidence-based policy, to save lives.’

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