THE ISSUES FACING AUSTRALIA from methamphetamine use, and a sharp increase in the use of the drug ‘ice’, will be the priority of the Federal Government’s reshaped drugs and alcohol advisory council.
Federal Member for Leichhardt Mr Warren Entsch said: “Tackling the growing ice problem is a major priority for the Government and, as a first step, we have asked the new Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs (ANACAD) to look at this issue as their top priority.
“ANACAD will be chaired by Ms Kay Hull previous chair of the Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs Inquiry into substance abuse in Australian communities and will include other experts from a wide range of areas relating to drug and alcohol, health, justice, Indigenous, mental health, research and policy.”
Mr Entsch said the new Council’s focus on ice was in response to community concerns and evidence on the ground that ice is causing widespread devastation and destruction particularly affecting young people.
“It’s destroying families, children and communities right across the country, and we want this to stop,” said Mr Entsch.
Data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed that, in 2013, around 1.3 million Australians aged 14 years and over had used methamphetamines in their lifetime with 400,000 of them doing so in the previous 12 months. The data added that, among methamphetamine users, there was an increase in the use of crystal methamphetamine (ice) from 22 per cent in 2010 to 50 per cent in 2013.
Research also indicates that while the number of users has not increased, those who do use the drug are using it more frequently.
Mr Entsch said although ice hadn’t become a major issue in Far North Queensland yet, its use was increasing at an alarming rate both in Cairns and in more remote areas.
“It certainly has the potential of being the next major challenge in drug control, especially given that a number of individuals have recently been caught smuggling chemicals used to make methamphetamine into the region,” he said.
“In October, police dismantled an organised crime syndicate when they arrested eight people at a property near Herberton and seized 10 litres of Phenyl-2-Propanone enough to create around 9.8 kilograms of methamphetamine, with an estimated street value of $2.5 million.
“It’s important to nip this issue in the bud so we don’t see an ‘ice age’ to the same extent as southern states are experiencing.”
The new Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs will play an important part in ensuring that drug and alcohol problems in the Australian community are tackled in a coordinated effort. The Council will report directly to the Minister responsible for drugs and alcohol policy within the Health portfolio, Fiona Nash, and will be able to directly give advice to all relevant Commonwealth Ministers.
Members of ANACAD include Ms Kay Hull (Chair), A/Prof Ted Wilkes AO (Principle Advisor, Indigenous drug and alcohol matters), Dr Robert Ali, Prof Steve Allsop, Ms Jo Baxter, Dr Diana Egerton-Warburton, Dr James Fitzpatrick, Mr Anthony Fleming, Dr Jenny May, Mr Michael Phelan APM, Mr Frank Quinlan, and Mr John Rogerson.