The Minister Responsible for WA Drug Abuse Strategy, Rhonda Parker, said outside of Parliament today that misleading and mischievous statements by the Opposition spokesperson on drug abuse strategy did nothing to improve the response to the drug problem in Western Australia.
The Labor spokesperson on drug abuse strategy, Alan Carpenter, made statements in the House today that the Executive Director of WADASO had told a forum that the Government was considering the introduction of a heroin cautioning system.
“I want to make it absolutely clear that the Government is not considering the introduction of a heroin cautioning system,” Mrs Parker said.
“I have spoken with Mr Murphy after question time today and he confirmed that he has not made any statement to that effect.
“Other people present at the forum have also confirmed that no such statement was made.
“The Opposition’s approach to the drug issue is not serious or helpful and these latest misleading and mischievous statements are another example of that.
“The Labor Party’s contribution to the drug debate has been to support a heroin trial giving addicts their drug of choice, as well as to adopt a policy which would allow the possession of 100 grams of cannabis and the cultivation of five plants, without any criminal charge and without any other consequences.
“Contrary to that, in April this year, the Prime Minister proposed a diversion system which coerces offenders into compulsory assessment and engages them into treatment. For that he has received in principle support at COAG.
“There has been no proposal by the Prime Minister to introduce a ‘heroin cautioning system’ and the State Government would not support it if there was.
“The State Government is looking at a range of other strategies to more effectively engage offenders into treatment, retaining however all criminal penalties for those who do not comply with the diversion conditions to be determined.”
“The important part of that strategy has to be that the use of illicit drugs remains a criminal offence. The criminality of illicit drug use is an essential element in compelling users into treatment.
“The non-quarantined pursuit of harm minimisation policies around Australia in the eighties and early nineties has created confusion for police services around the country in terms of their drug law enforcement role.
“The diversion system proposed by the Prime Minister, if adequately structured, has the potential to strengthen drug law enforcement by the Police in limiting the options to either compulsory assessment or a criminal charge.”
Mrs Parker said details of the Prime Minister’s proposal would be discussed at a meeting of the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy next week.
Media contact: Owen Cole 9481 7810