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International report recognises Australia's tough on drugs successes.



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Media Release

SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON

Minister for Justice and Customs

Senator for Western Australia

E21/03 26 February 2003

International report recognises Australia’s tough on drugs successes

The Commonwealth Government’s commitment to and success in reducing the use and trafficking in illicit drugs has been recognised by the International Narcotic Control Board (INCB), the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison said today.

Senator Ellison said the INCB Annual Report for 2002 released today noted a number of Australian successes, including a drop in the number of heroin overdose deaths. The INCB is responsible for promoting the implementation of the United Nations’ drug conventions.

“The South-East Asian region is the key source of heroin trafficking to Australia and it has been a real achievement for our law enforcement agencies to disrupt trafficking rings targeting Australia,” Senator Ellison said.

“This achievement, along with increased treatment services under our Tough on Drugs strategy, has contributed to the decreased number of heroin overdose deaths.”

The INCB also recognises that the Australian Government is responding to the growing international demand for amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), which includes additional funding for the National Heroin Signature Programme to profile cocaine and ATS.

Senator Ellison said Australia had participated in significant international drug law enforcement operations, with one operation alone resulting in the seizure of 335,000 ecstasy tablets.

“The Government is also targeting the chemicals used in the manufacture of ATS,” Senator Ellison said. “Last year the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing and I established a national working group to address this issue.”

“Australia is also part of the Chemical Working Group of the INCB’s Project PRISM, which targets precursor chemicals involved in the production of ATS internationally.”

The INCB also noted the positive results of Australia’s National Illicit Drug Campaign which aims to educate Australians about the dangers of illicit drug use and raise awareness about primary prevention. During the campaign in 2001, 78 per cent of parents spoke to their children about drugs.

The Commonwealth Government has allocated more than $625 million to the National Illicit Drugs Strategy, Tough on Drugs since 1997, as well as considerable resources invested in border protection and Commonwealth law enforcement.

“Notable achievements such as the heroin shortage and the fact that more drugs are being detected than ever before show that this approach is working,” Senator Ellison said.

Media inquiries: Mairi Barton Ph 02/6277 7260 or 0439 300 335