COALITION MUST RELEASE ICE TASKFORCE REPORT

The Coalition must quit stalling and release the National Ice Taskforce report.

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Despite being handed to the Government several months ago and discussed at Cabinet, the Taskforce report remains locked behind closed doors.

Perhaps this is because it apparently calls for an expansion of treatment services and more emphasis on treatment, education and community support to reduce ice demand.

The silly stunts and posturing must stop. In an act of high face in the Federation Chamber today, the Government asked the Parliament to take note and endorse a report that they refuse to actually release.

The Private Member’s Motion, put forward by the Member for Dobell Karen McNamara, noted that ice use had reached “epidemic proportions” and praised the Government for identifying “the ferocity of the ice epidemic across Australia”.

Labor’s spokesperson for alcohol and other drugs policy, Stephen Jones, today called on the Coalition to stop the theatrics and release the report without delay.

“This is an act of extraordinary arrogance on a matter that requires serious policy, not B grade stunts.

“On top of all this, it is now 511 days since the Government received the Review of Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment Services Sector Report. That report hasn’t been released either.

“That is why today I moved an amendment to the motion, calling on the Government to release both of these reports right away.”

David Feeney, Labor’s spokesperson for Justice, also spoke on the motion and reiterated that tackling ice use requires a close integration of justice and public health systems.

“The threat of ice requires a strong national policy with a health based approach to complement law enforcement efforts.”

The Coalition’s harsh cuts to treatment services makes a mockery of their bold promises on tackling ice use.

  • The cynical “rationalising and streamlining” of health programmes will see close to $800 million cut from the Health Flexible Funds, which includes funds supporting alcohol and illicit drug rehabilitation and treatment as well as prevention strategies.
  • The Coalition’s mishandling of NGO treatment grants continues to alarm a sector already under the pump to meet demand. The fact that this funding was only extended at the very end of the financial year and even then for just twelve months has led to an urgent funding crisis.

It is no wonder that the heads of eight peak alcohol and other drug bodies have called on the Government to provide increased recurrent funding for treatment services.

The Commonwealth has spent $20 million on graphic TV ads warning of the dangers of ice and whilst leaving the solutions to the problem underfunded. Treatment services are crying out for funding certainty and there just aren’t enough rehabilitation beds available.

There have been enough media releases, speeches, motions and warnings of an “epidemic”. Action is needed to help the workers on the frontline doing their best with one arm tied behind their backs. 

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