June 9th 2007

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Climate change: don't spoil a good story with facts

NATIONAL SECURITY: How to fight global terrorism

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Kevin Rudd attack on Howard comes unstuck

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Nuclear power, ethanol can cut CO2 emissions

PRIMARY INDUSTRY: Wheat industry win, but final outcome uncertain

OPINION: Caving in to predatory big business

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Workplace relations and human asset-stripping / The Tampa victory revisited / Another tinsel turkey for Auntie / Show and tell

DRUGS POLICY: Drugs must be a federal election issue

CHINA: Beijing's crackdown ahead of Olympics

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Can we afford to ignore the Middle East?

MEDICAL ETHICS: Intentionally deformed ... for her own good?

EDUCATION: Intact family the single most critical factor in academic success

THE WORLD: Poland - front line in the culture wars

OBITUARY: Polish-Australian Stan Gotowicz a man of many parts

Howard Government's 'generosity' disputed (letter)

Apology for error (letter)

Why families can't afford a home (letter)

CINEMA: Family - the necessary refuge for sinners

BOOKS: MENACE IN EUROPE: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's, by Claire Berlinski

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Drugs must be a federal election issue

by David Perrin

News Weekly, June 9, 2007
The permissive policy of so-called "harm minimisation" for illicit drugs is an abject failure in Australia, writes David Perrin, executive officer of the Drug Advisory Council of Australia.

Political parties trying to win votes must be made to focus on social issues like illicit drug use and to commit themselves to a just and fair Australia.

High drug use is causing many Australian illicit drug-users to become an underclass and is feeding drug-pushers, international drug criminals and terrorist groups that use drug money for their evil.

The permissive policy of so-called "harm minimisation" for illicit drugs is an abject failure in Australia and has fuelled the massive drug demand and the money flowing to the criminals and terrorists. This demand for illicit drugs must be substantially reduced.

Fortunately, there are alternatives that have never been tried in Australia but have been used overseas to reduce the demand for illicit drugs.

The way ahead

Australia must take note of successful anti-drug policies that are working overseas, and adopt these new proposals:

1. Politicians must now adopt a zero-tolerance policy of harm elimination and abolish the failed policy of harm minimisation.

2. Policies relating to illicit drugs must be separated from policies relating to legal drugs such as alcohol. For illicit drugs, any use must be acted upon. For alcohol, where the use is widespread, policies relating to abuse must be acted upon. Accordingly, all national organisations must develop policies that make these clear distinctions.

3. Illicit-drug use must be treated as a broad community issue and not confined to a mere health problem. Therefore, the federal government must set up a federal ministry with the explicit objective of reducing the number of illicit drug-users and drug demand. This ministry must encompass all factors that are affected by illicit drug use, such as health, border protection, law enforcement, social security, education, correctional services and the judicial system.

4. Drug policy must be restrictive and aimed at teenagers on the experience of successful countries that have learnt that stopping teenagers from using illicit drugs works best.

5. The federal government must set a strict target of no more that four per cent of teenagers having used an illicit drug in the past 12 months. This is world's best practice. Surprisingly, current Australian drug policy has no clearly defined objectives.

6. The federal government must use its federal powers to close the failed and costly injecting rooms in Sydney's Kings Cross, so that taxpayers' money is no longer wasted but directed into detoxification and rehabilitation programs.

7. Federal funds allocated to states and territories must be made on the proviso that rehabilitation programs are audited to ensure at least an 80 per cent of illicit drug-users are permanently drug-free. The accepted definition of a successful rehabilitation is that a former user remains drug-free for at least five years after rehabilitation ceases.

8. Illicit-drug users apprehended must be brought to court. The courts must order users into detoxification and then rehabilitation, and supervise them so that they cannot walk out of the program whenever they wish. Federal funds allocated for rehabilitation can stipulate the court orders and supervision.

9. Given the large number of deaths, health problems and babies born with a methadone addiction, there needs to be a full judicial inquiry into the prescription of methadone for illicit drug addiction.

10. The federal government should conduct annual, consistent and reported polling of Australian teenage drug use during the previous 12 months, and compare these with the drug use by similar-aged teenagers in Sweden, which has the most successful drug policies in Europe.

11. All syringe-distribution programs should be scrapped in favour of detoxification and rehabilitation programs that get drug-users free of drugs.


Medical research has now conclusively demonstrated the link between illicit drug use, mental illness and psychosis. With Australia's high cannabis use - and particularly with new drugs like Ice, where we have world record drug use - these new proven policies must be used to stem the tide of future community costs.

Future generations of Australians need a new start using successful approaches that are working overseas.

This federal election must provide that new start. Our children and grandchildren depend on it.

- David Perrin is executive officer of the Drug Advisory Council of Australia and national president of the Australian Family Association.

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