Labor has a long and proud history of doing the right thing when it comes to drug reform.
NSW was once a world leader when it comes to harm-minimisation.
We were seen as the vanguard when it comes to balanced laws that don’t target the young, the marginalised, or the vulnerable.
Labor understands that you don’t fix a flood with a hammer.
The Baird Government’s heavy-handed approach doesn’t fix the problem:
Sniffer dogs are ineffective – they’re wrong ¾ of the time, causing unnecessary interactions between police and young people.
They scare young people into ingesting all of their drugs at once, and cause unnecessary over-doses and deaths.
Likewise, the intensified presence of police at music festivals and events doesn’t stop young people taking drugs - it just encourages them to take all their drugs to avoid arrest.
This is not a harm-minimisation approach.
Road-side drug testing hurls people into the legal system for having the most minute traces of drugs in their system, but operates without a shred of evidence to prove it reduces the number of accidents.
NSW is the only jurisdiction in the world that doesn’t have minimum levels for drug-driving tests.
Premier Baird and Minister Grant aren’t interested in fixing the problem of drugs; they want to swing the pendulum right back the other way and look tough on crime.
If they were serious, they’d stop targeting kids, and poor people, LGBTIQ people and the vulnerable;
They’d use their resources to target drug dealers and manufacturers to stop the flow of illicit drugs on our streets.
Premier Bob Carr understood that when he opened Australia’s only medically supervised injecting centre in 2001.
He knew that intravenous drug users wouldn’t go away.
Just like young people smoking pot or taking pills at music festivals won’t go away.
Rather than ruining lives with a criminal record or worse still, leaving people to take risks on their own, let’s be brave.
Let’s look at the evidence and make good policy that puts people first.
Let’s introduce amnesty bins and pill-testing at festivals so we’re not putting people at risk.
Let’s retire sniffer dogs so we’re not unnecessarily targeting vulnerable people on our streets.
Let’s decriminalise the possession and use of drugs and get the debate back on track – let’s get drug users out of cop cars and back into the health system.
Let’s put Labor at the vanguard again.
Let’s be brave.
Let’s make good evidence based public policy and once again make NSW a world leader when it comes to harm minimisation.