Prime Minister announces $300m strategy to tackle ice addiction

The Federal Government will spend more than $300 million implementing a new strategy aimed at tackling ice addiction, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said.

Key points

  • Federal Government will inject $300 million into tackling ice epidemic
  • National Ice Taskforce final report shows 200,000 Australians use the drug
  • Majority of funds going to grassroots organisations
  • Push to decrease the demand for ice to help police retain control of supply

A report from the National Ice Taskforce found more than 200,000 Australians had used the drug.

Today, the Government agreed to adopt the 38 recommendations from the taskforce aimed at improving prevention and treatment methods.

Mr Turnbull said most of the funding would be given to grassroots organisations.

"Most of this money is going to primary health networks," Mr Turnbull said.

"We believe that the medical and healthcare professionals, who are closest to the ... people in need, are best able to determine how the money is spent."

The Prime Minister said law enforcement was critical to fighting the ice problem, but was not the only solution.

"The responsibility for tackling this very complex problem can't be left to the police alone."

"We cannot arrest our way to success we need to do a lot more."

However, Justice Minister Michael Keenan said more should be done to reduce demand for the drug, otherwise law enforcement would be under more pressure.

"While there has been an increase in use globally the problem in Australia has proportionally become worse," Mr Keenan said.

"If demand still exists at such a record rate it's going to be impossible for law enforcement to retain control of the supply."

Changes a 'major shift which needs to happen in Australia'

But Australian Drug Foundation chief executive John Rogerson said drug addiction was not just a criminal issue.

"Today is a really exciting day for the alcohol and drug field because we've seen a pretty one-dimensional approach to dealing with alcohol and drugs across Australia," he said.

"A heavy emphasis on law enforcement turned into something which is integrated, which has strong focus on treatment, on prevention and community.

"This is the major shift which needs to happen in Australia... we have got to get away from treating it as a criminal justice issue and treating it as a health issue."

Rural health minister Fiona Nash described the funding as a historic investment in tackling ice addiction.

"If we are going to break the drug dealers model we need to smash demand," Ms Nash said.

The Federal Opposition has backed the announcement, but said the Government had already cut funding to the health sector in the past two budgets.

Labor assistant health spokesman Stephen Jones said the report was a slight at the Government on the budget cuts.

"It's been keeping the sector on 12 month funding contracts, not renewing them until the eleventh hour which means staff are being laid off," Mr Jones said.

"All of those sections in the report that talk about the need for planning and the need to ensure that when somebody makes the decision that they want to turn their life around that there are rehabilitation services available."

Opposition assistant health spokesman Stephen Jones said the funding would not outweigh years of budget cuts.

"In the context of over $800 million worth of cuts to the funds in this sector and two years of budget cuts we need a very clear statement from the Government today this is new money and we're not robbing Peter to pay Paul," he told the ABC.

Source: ABC News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *