March 29th 2008

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: The truth about Australia's birth rate

EDITORIAL: NSW electricity to be privatised?

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Opposition needs new policies, not stunts

WATER: Time to build new reservoirs

QUARANTINE: EI inquiry flags major changes to horse quarantine

INTERNATIONAL TRADE: Rudd Government to re-examine FTAs

ENVIRONMENT: Conference rejects climate change alarmism

HIGH SCHOOLS: School: ladder of opportunity or game of snakes and ladders?

HUMAN RIGHTS: Behind Beijing's crackdown in Tibet

UNITED STATES: California court attacks parental rights

DRUGS: Australia's complicity in global drugs menace

UNITED NATIONS: Feminist frolics at the UN

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Muslim attacks forcing Jews out of Paris suburbs / School vouchers flourishing in Sweden / Coal tipped to be world's top energy source

MEDIA: ABC's take on Islamic school controversy

CINEMA: BELLA: A gentle film with a big heart

BOOKS: DARWIN DAY IN AMERICA: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, by John G. West


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Australia's complicity in global drugs menace

by David Perrin

News Weekly, March 29, 2008
A recent United Nations study reveals a dismal picture of how illicit drugs promote much evil in the world, writes David Perrin.

It has long been accepted that international drug criminals are major beneficiaries of Australia's high drug-using population.

But the latest annual report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (obtainable from now highlights that international terrorists are funded by drug production and trafficking.

The report highlights that drug cartels not only use human-trafficking to provide slave labour for drug factories in places such as Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), South America and Africa, but also use human mules to traffic drugs from exporting countries to importing nations such as Australia.

Corruption in all these nations is endemic as drug money is used to undermine nation-states and good government. Trafficking also undermines the sovereignty of those nations at the hub of the drug trade between drug-producing countries to drug-using countries.

Drug revenue

Afghanistan, which produces over 80 per cent of the world's opium that is used in heroin production, is substantially dependent on drug revenue.

Cocaine-trafficking is undermining vulnerable African nations and putting their governments under severe pressure. Some South American and Caribbean nations are finding that illicit drug money is jeopardising security and development.

Corruption is a cancer that kills people's trust in public administration and erodes the common wealth built by society as a whole.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has also reported that drug addiction is killing millions of people every year and creating misery for tens of millions of others. The injection of illicit drugs is spreading HIV and hepatitis in nations that do not have well-developed health systems to cope with the crisis.

Australia as a developed Westernised nation contributes to these evils by not reducing its number of drug-users. On the contrary, we are responsible for having facilitated the high use of illicit drugs by promoting policies such as the drug injecting-room in Sydney's Kings Cross and so-called "harm minimisation".

As a high drug-using nation, we provide a lucrative market for global drug syndicates. The huge amounts of money that Australians spend on imported illicit drugs flow directly to drug-dealers, human-traffickers, terrorists, crime bosses and the resulting corruption that afflicts other nations.

When our taxes are used to provide syringes to maintain drug-users in their addiction, we help facilitate the global drug trade and all that goes with it.

Australia is a signatory to UN covenants designed to reduce the global scourge of illicit drugs. As such, Australian governments, be they at the national or state/territory level, have an urgent obligation to reduce the number of drug-users so as to reduce the demand for drugs. In fact, this is what the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is asking the drug-using nations like Australia to do.

So far, Australia has been cooperating with other nations in attempting to reduce the supply of illicit drugs by busting drug shipments, monitoring money movements, and sharing information and resources.

But these efforts are being undermined by our lack of will in reducing our country's demand for illicit drugs by reducing the number of drug-users.

Recent media coverage of celebrities and high-profile sports identities being involved with illicit drugs clearly highlights Australia's failure to enforce any effective sort of drugs policy. When these celebrities buy their drugs, where do they think the money goes?

As far as Australia's inadequate drugs policy goes, we are entitled to ask some hard questions of our politicians, such as:

• Where can we find any detoxification and rehabilitation services to get people off drugs, as opposed to our current permissive "harm-minimisation" policies that effectively keep people on drugs?

• When will our courts be empowered, like Swedish courts, to order illicit drug-users to undertake detoxification and rehabilitation, and then supervise their progress until they achieve a drug-free state?

• When will all prisons be drug free and release people back into society without an addiction?

• When will we scrap the Kings Cross injecting rooms?

• When will we scrap the syringe-distribution programs that keep addicts in their addiction?

There is much to be done in Australia to help other nations to fight the scourge of illicit drugs and the corruption and evil that go with it. With a new government in Canberra, here is an opportunity for a clean start and national leadership.

- David Perrin is executive officer of the Drug Advisory Council of Australia and a former Victorian state member of parliament.

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