SOUTH AUSTRALIA: by Mark PosaNews Weekly
Parents call for increased penalties for drug trafficking
, October 20, 2001
The Family Council of South Australia held a successful Parents and Drugs Conference in Adelaide on Saturday September 29, attended by about 100 people, including Members of Parliament.
Those MPs who attended were: Mr Nick Xenophon, Legislative Council; Mr J. Scalzi, Liberal Member for Hartley; Ms Frances Bedford, ALP Member for Florey; Ms Trish Draper, Federal Liberal Member for Makin; and Mr Murray De Laine, Independent Labor Member for Price. The Conference was opened by the State Minister for Police, the Hon Robert Brokenshire.
- Dr John Anderson, consulting psychologist at the Brain and Behaviour Centre, Westmead, NSW;
- Normie Rowe, singer and entertainer, who spoke about his first-hand awareness of the problems of drug abuse;
- Ann Bressington, a member of the Australian National Council on Drugs, who assists people to overcome drug addiction at Shae Louise House, which she opened after the death of her daughter; and
- the above-mentioned Trish Draper, one of Federal Parliament's most vocal opponents of illicit drugs, who has criticised the use of funds to promote illegal drug use.
It was a pity the Chairman of the Australian Council on Drugs, Major Brian Watters, was unable to attend. He was caught up in the Ansett problem.
At a time when the drug problem is becoming more obvious in this country, it was surprising, and disappointing, to find not one member of the media present to give recognition to the importance of those who contributed to the conference.
The exposure Ann Bressington gave to the lack of accountability of our present system of harm minimisation and needle exchange was an eye-opener to those in attendance, leaving many wondering why governments, both State and Federal, have not acted in the past to overcome the problem.
It is to be hoped that governments in the future will act on resolutions accepted at the conference, particularly those dealing with the tough-on-drugs approach.
A similar resolution called on all parliaments in this country to introduce greater penalties for those who manufacture, sell or promote illegal drugs.
One resolution which may not be popular among those involved in the counselling and rehabilitation process, and the formation of drug policy (including Members of Parliament, police and prison officers) suggested that rehabilitation staff themselves be subject to random-testing for illegal drug use, the tests to be conducted by an independent authority.
Yet when one notes that 100 officers in the NSW police force are to be questioned on drug use, the resolution is timely.
The initiative of the Family Council of SA in calling the conference should be applauded, and it is to be hoped that the findings will be taken seriously by state and federal governments.
Support for the conference by the State Government is appreciated.