Statements on Reports: Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee

Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee: supply and use of methamphetamines, particularly ‘ice’, in Victoria

Mr CARROLL (Niddrie) — I join the member for Caulfield to speak on the Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee report entitled Inquiry into the Supply and Use of Methamphetamine in Victoria. It was a very detailed and extensive inquiry conducted over 10 months. We received some 78 submissions, conducted 113 public hearings and heard from 220 witnesses. Before me right now I have the 2‑volume, 32‑chapter, 900‑page report with some 54 recommendations.

Without doubt crystal methamphetamine has taken a grip on Victoria. I was very pleased recently to see on this side of the house that the Leader of the Opposition has himself shown leadership on this subject and has been at the forefront in terms of policy advice, policy ideas and getting stakeholders together to see how we can tackle the problem. Like the member for Caulfield, I also want to comment on our no. 1 recommendation, which is to have a Premier‑led ministerial council on methamphetamines.

We are very competitive with our New Zealand neighbours on cricket, but we could learn a lot from them in relation to how they have tackled this issue. New Zealand had one of the
highest rates of methamphetamine use in the world, and just last year New Zealand’s State Services Commission delivered a report which showed that in that country the use of methamphetamines had halved. That has been achieved through the Prime Minister taking control and showing leadership on this issue. He has coordinated efforts through his Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Ministry of Health and the  Attorney‑General, and he requires that every six months proper checks and balances be conducted on the need to reduce the ice epidemic in New Zealand. There is a lot that the state of Victoria could learn from New Zealand.

This is probably the most substantial report we have ever seen on methamphetamines, and as someone who follows in the shoes of the former Attorney‑General, who was also a member for Niddrie, I am proud that we are now seeing recommendations that the model of the Drug Court in Dandenong, a reform he introduced, be provided in areas beyond the south‑east area of Melbourne. The jury is in that the Drug Court in Dandenong has been a remarkable success that the Bracks government should be very proud of, and it now needs to be extended beyond the south‑east. We have a drug problem right across the state. The same requirement applies to the Court Integrated Services Program, which was introduced by the previous Attorney‑General. That program gives people a second chance before the magistrates. It gets them back into employment opportunities and creates a diversion from their being sent to jail, which costs taxpayers some $98 000.

Before I finish my contribution, I put on the record my thanks and appreciation to the chair of the inquiry, Mr Ramsay, a member for Western Victoria Region in the other place, and the deputy chair, Mr Scheffer, a member for Eastern Victoria Region. I also thank the members for Caulfield and Murray Valley. The committee’s report is an outstanding success, but it could not have had that success if it were not for the support we were given. It is good to see Kim Martinow in the chamber. As the committee administrative officer, she did a lot of work on this inquiry. I also thank Sandy Cook, executive officer, and Pete  Johnston, legal research officer. I thank Pete and committee administrative officer, Justin Elder, for all their efforts in producing this report. Producing the report took some 10 months, and it involved interviewing 220 witnesses at 113 public hearings. The committee received 78 submissions. The report could not have been delivered on time without the support of the committee’s administrative staff. To table the report by the due date required long hours with a heavy workload, and the guidance and professionalism of those people has been second to none.

I am very proud of this report. It is only the second parliamentary committee I have served on. The members worked very well together, and I think this is an issue that needs
addressing. Methamphetamines may give pleasure to some people, but they also cause a lot of pain in the community. The submissions we have received in camera from families affected by the drug show a problem that both sides of politics have come together to take notice of. I know that both sides of politics want to address this issue. The report is incredibly substantial, and it leads the way not only in the state of Victoria but also nationally. I hope the government takes up many of our recommendations. I hope we can tackle this insidious drug and address the harm it is doing to families, some of whom are out in regional towns. This problem needs to be addressed, and this report is a great leap forward in doing everything we can to tackle this problem.