May 22nd 2004

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: An election winning Budget?

EDITORIAL: Child care funding and the Budget

AGRICULTURE: Sugar package, Clayton's package

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Ethanol for strategic energy self-reliance

STRAWS IN THE WIND: More history wars / Betrayal / Guilt by association / ALP founding

COMMENT: Tougher law enforcement needed to stop drug wars

FREE TRADE AGREEMENT: Economist describes CIE report as laughable

Nature says no to same sex marriage (letter)

Vietnam human rights (letter)

Western media hypocrisy (letter)

No choice for mothers (letter)

Marriage unaffordable (letter)

Taiwan and the WHO (letter)

US economic integration defended (letter)

ECONOMY: Manufacturing decline causes foreign debt crisis

Europe's uncertain future

REPORT: More of the same at UN women's conference

COMMENT: Same-sex marriage: there are no limits

BOOKS: EMPIRE: How Britain Made The Modern World, by Niall Ferguson

BOOKS: Alger Hiss's Looking-Glass Wars: The Covert Life of a Soviet Spy, by G. Edward White

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Tougher law enforcement needed to stop drug wars

by David Perrin

News Weekly, May 22, 2004
Melbourne and Sydney have been subject to drug wars as criminal elements fight over the illicit drug market.

Cabramatta in Sydney has seen ethnic elements fight for a share of the lucrative drug market that has been propped up by the drug maintenance policies of successive governments.

But in Melbourne at the present time the war is at its fiercest.

During the past few years a large number of drug criminals have been murdered, usually gunned down in broad daylight in restaurants, sporting facilities and streets.

The Victorian police under Commissioner Christine Nixon have been powerless to have any effect.

Public pressure

After considerable public pressure the police set up a task force and advocated a strategy to tackle the problem, but all too late.

Victorian police investigating the drug murders have estimated that the illicit drug market is worth $2,000 million every year in Melbourne alone.

The police admit that at stake is control of the growing market for cocaine, amphetamine, LSD and ecstasy.

Recently the Victorian Police Minister declared that the heroin drought was over and heroin was likely to be more readily available.

Debate over legislation to tighten laws regarding confiscation of assets acquired from illicit drugs after conviction by the courts will not help to stop the murders or diminish the drug market in any way. These laws will not help the illicit drug-users who lose their lives or who are permanently harmed from the scientifically proven dangers of these drugs.

These bandaid solutions will not have any impact on the growing demand for illicit drugs or the international criminals and terrorists that benefit from the drug market in Australia.

Last year a House of Representatives committee of the Federal Parliament, in its Road to Recovery report, slammed the current policy of harm minimisation that had led to the increased demand for illicit drugs.

In the Road to Recovery report, a 2001 survey of teenagers indicated that 28 per cent of them and 35 per cent of young people in their twenties had used an illicit drug in the last 12 months.

An estimated 2.6 million Australians over the age of 14 had used an illicit drug in the last 12 months. This usage rate is high by world standards.

What is the real problem?

During March 2004, the International Narcotics Control Board that monitors the United Nations conventions that Australia has signed, released its latest annual report also criticising harm minimisation drug policy.

The Board severely criticised the use of injecting rooms like those in Kings Cross that the New South Wales police now admit is a honey pot and police-free zone for drug criminals.

Injecting rooms violate the UN conventions that mandate Australia to implement comprehensive demand reduction programs for illicit drugs.

But the annual report gave Australian politicians and police a timely reminder of the problems of drug wars that are now occurring in Melbourne and Sydney.

Commenting on the release of the latest annual report, the New York representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime stated that "when trafficking groups compete for market share, violent confrontations result." He went on to say that increasing dependence of drug-dealing as a means to livelihood led to authorities losing control over parts of their communities.

This is exactly what is happening in Melbourne at the present time with the current drug killings.

The reports can be accessed at and commentaries are available at for Australia.

What must be done?

The International Narcotics Control Board believes Australia must abandon the harm minimisation policies and implement detoxification and rehabilitation programs for illicit drug users.

It recommends that illicit drug demand must be reduced.

It recommends that Australia must use its courts to direct illicit drug-users into detoxification and rehabilitation instead of incarceration.

However, at the present time Australian courts do not have the power to direct drug-users into detoxification and rehabilitation to get them completely drug-free.

In addition, Australia does not currently have sufficient detoxification and rehabilitation programs to cope with the high percentage of people on drugs.

The way to stop Melbourne's drug killings is to eliminate demand for drugs. Reducing drug demand has worked overseas and it can work in Australia.

  • David Perrin is the National President of the Australian Family Association and Executive Officer of the Drug Advisory Council of Australia

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