Government upping the ante in fight to end ice
TEAMS on a mission to tackle the devastating drug ice will soon set off across the country and George Christensen is determined to see one arrive at Mackay.
The 252-page National Ice Taskforce report was released by the federal government yesterday and outlines how almost $300 million over four years would be spent on strategies to tackle ice, a form of methamphetamine.
This included a $24.9 million funding pool to have 220 Community Drug Action Teams created nationally.
The Federal Member for Dawson wants one of those teams at Mackay, calling them "critical for the prevention side of things".
"I will be strongly pushing for one (a community drug action team) in Mackay, given the prevalence of ice in our region," Mr Christensen said.
One of the key findings of the National Ice Taskforce, which was established in April, was the demand for ice was strong despite efforts of law enforcement.
The report released yesterday provided strategies, classed into five different focus areas, aimed at reducing demand for ice, and stopping its devastating effects.
It will now form the federal government's new National Ice Action Strategy.
The idea for new community drug action teams came under the "supporting families and communities" category.
"Focused law enforcement" was another and Mr Christensen said the provisions set out would "up the ante" on disrupting ice supply chains.
"Investigators will be out internationally to stop (the supply of ice) at its source," he said.
"There will be a focus on crime syndicates in China and there will be a new criminal intelligence system."
This National Criminal Intelligence System would be funded through $10 million taken from the "proceeds of crime account", so essentially funded by criminals.
It would allow law enforcement information to be shared across states and territories.
Mr Christensen was also buoyed by a $241.5 million investment in regional health programs targeting ice, as well as $13 million to get more items for addictive medicine specialists covered by Medicare.
There was just one provision left off the report, which Mr Christensen had wanted to see: a harsher penalty for ice distributors, but noted sentencing was not an area covered by the report.
"One thing I had put forward was that these people should be flogged, the people who distribute (ice)," he said.
He noted gains would be in the long-term.
"I don't think we will see a difference overnight, but (we should) about a year from now," he said.
"On the law enforcement side, we should see a lot more busts, and community drug action teams will be critical for the prevention side."
The report laid out government plans to combat ice.
- $241.5 million: For treatment services through health networks.
- $5 million: To send officers overseas to stop the supply of ice.
- $10 million: To develop a National Criminal Intelligence System to share intelligence.
- $1 million: To roll out a national Dob in a Dealer campaign.
- $18.8 million: To enhance evidence base, new guidelines and improve the quality of data and research on ice.
- $13 million: New Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items for Addiction Medicine Specialists.
- National Ice Taskforce created in April 2015
- Found market for ice was strong, despite law enforcement efforts.
- Recommended government focus efforts on reducing demand and harm and interrupting supply chains.
- Government developed an action package across five key areas in response, to form new National Ice Action Strategy.