Standing up for Canberra

Launch of ASPI's Ice strategy

I rise today to speak about an issue that is having a devastating impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians—and that is ice. There would be no-one in this place who has not had their electorate affected by ice addiction. Recently, all the cars in the street in which my hairdresser is located were broken into. Computers, cameras and cash were stolen from those cars. It is a regular occurrence in suburbs here in Canberra. I would put money on it that it is mainly due to ice addiction.

Last night I helped launch a special report by Australian Strategic Policy Institute, with my colleague the member for Throsby and the AFP Assistant Commissioner, called Focusing Australia ' s National Ice Strategy on the problem, not the symptoms . It is crucial that we continue the national conversation around ice and the problems it is causing in our communities, like those I have just highlighted in my own electorate, because the effects of ice use can be found in our cities and in the bush. It is felt by families, by doctors and nurses, by police and emergency services personnel and by our courts.

There are two elements of ice that strike me as particularly concerning: the highly addictive nature of ice and the ease with which people seem to be able to obtain it. ASPI's strategy focuses on ways to reduce the harm to the Australian community that do not necessarily rely on seizing drugs or making arrests. It focuses on ways to reduce the availability of drugs, the disruption of user behaviour and the integration of education and health initiatives. I applaud ASPI and the report's writers John Coyne and Vern White for calling for a multifaceted approach.

Vern is a sitting senator in the Senate of Canada and is a Visiting Fellow at ASPI. His efforts as the Ottawa Police Service Chief focused on reducing supply; associated criminal activity, particularly petty crimes; reducing the number of addicts by restricting access; and making addiction treatments a priority. His experience and knowledge was gained at a time when Ottawa was called the 'crack capital of Canada'. So we have some invaluable lessons to learn here from his experiences. The lessons that Vern gained in transforming the 'crack capital of Canada' can be applied here too. Last night, Vern admitted that our problem in Australia may indeed be worse than Canada's.

It is clear we have a serious, serious problem on our hands. Australians use more ice than the citizens of any other country. Currently, there are 400,000 Australians using ice on a regular basis. The problem is getting worse. Over the past 10 years, the number of injecting drug users who use ice has increased by 52 per cent. Every aspect of the Australian community must work together to fight this terrible drug.

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