May 21st 2005

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: CANBERRA OBSERVED: Costello's latest budget - do the figures add up?

EDITORIAL: Australia's economy after the Budget

SCHOOLS: Our failure to provide good books for boys

DRUGS: How to crack down on illicit drugs

ABORTION: Public turning against late-term abortions

IN VITRO FERTILISATION: Why Abbott is right about IVF funding

TRADE: New Trade Theory challenges free trade

SUPERMARKETS: Big retailers set to hit farmers even harder

COMMUNISM: Remembering the Vietnamese exodus

ENVIRONMENT: Kyoto Protocol unleashes the friendly atom

Support, don't abort (letter)

Cheaper insurance for pro-lifers? (letter)

Australia's trade woes (letter)

Public inaction over illicit drugs (letter)

OBITUARY: Vale Hugh Slattery: tireless fighter

OBITUARY: Tribute to Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen

THE SUPREMACISTS: The Tyranny of Judges and How To Stop It, by Phyllis Schlafly

THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR: Athens, Sparta and the Struggle for Greece, by Nigel Bagnall

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Public inaction over illicit drugs (letter)

by Geraldine Mullins

News Weekly, May 21, 2005

Australians have tolerated and become inured to the accelerated, increasing levels of drug use in our country.

The latest reliable illicit drug report shows that Australia is the ecstasy capital of the world. Australia tops the world list of cannabis use. Now, owing to the extraordinary incidence of Australians caught as mules in drug-running, Australian health-policy advisers should be accountable for their failure to adequately warn the young about the real harm of illicit drugs and failing to deliver a duty of care.

In keeping with mega-funded academic psychology, the National Drug Strategy has consistently orchestrated the rejection of the three pillars of a restrictive policy for the prevention of illicit drugs: (1) compulsory school drug education, (2) strict compliance of law enforcement in each state, and (3) customs interdiction.

People cry out that drug policy should be governed by the health sector - it already is! This transition from police to health has been a fait accompli and an imperceptible sleight of hand, without proper explanation, open and transparent community consultation or warnings.

Therefore, as illicit drug use is the responsibility of health, why has there been no public alert regarding the avoidable health problems of the outbreak and unprecedented epidemic of violence, social mayhem and mental illness in Western Australia caused by the so called "recreational" uptake of drugs?

If the government and its health sector had been genuine in dealing with the problems wrought by illicit drugs, they would have developed the three levels for the prevention of disease: primary, secondary and tertiary.

This is not rocket science. Instead the Department of Public Health was not qualified to deal with the illicit drug portfolio and neglected to monitor the universal predictors of a widespread drug epidemic. Unlike other health risks, the media were not employed by the government to issue danger warnings.

In the event of an epidemic of drug abuse, if you do not control the number of drug-users, the problem will escalate and expand.

In 1990, Australian academics and drug health social workers went to extreme lengths to discredit zero tolerance or prohibition with a concept called "harm minimisation". This academic philosophy is deemed to be appropriate for the reduction only of those harms the social scientists perceive as problematic drug use. This means they do not support drug-prevention education, nor do they believe in enforced intervention through drug courts. They regard illicit drugs as a victimless crime and seek "controlled" drug distribution. But they have failed to manage or control either the spread of Hepatitis C and AIDS or illicit drug addiction.

Public revenue to provide adequate beds for rehabilitation is considered by government bean-counters to have no value. Health ministers are misled to believe that live-in recovery is an untenable investment for a minimal return.

There is an urgent need for government-assisted social support services that are presently mainly restricted or non-existent. Instead, parents and loved ones as the primary carers for their sick, disenfranchised sons and daughters are left, mostly unaided, to carry this financial and emotional burden with no light at the end of the tunnel of despair and hopelessness.

Such tolerance of mind-altering drugs in our communities is compounded by ignorance of the disease of drug addiction and of the operations of market forces unscrupulously trading illicit products without consideration for the health or functioning of their customers or the concerns of the wider society. When such open domestic dealing of narcotics and hallucinogens is condoned and accepted by governments, the market grows and multiplies.

Contrary to the popular public perception that prohibition doesn't work and has failed in Australia, it remains to be officially acknowledged that, as an enforcement for domestic/state law and order, it has not existed for over 15 years.

It was replaced by so-called "harm minimisation", which is unsubstantiated and unsustainable to arrest any addictive behaviours. Harm minimisation is also the complete antithesis to drug prevention, responsible treatment and recovery.

Thankfully, Australian Federal Police are conscientious and diligent in intercepting drugs coming onto our shores. But if the anti-prohibitionists get their way, this excellent law-enforcement measure will also be diminished.

Geraldine Mullins,
Spokesperson for the Family Council of WA Inc.,
West Perth, WA

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