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Budget 2003: Government remains 'Tough on Drugs'



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Media Release

Suite MG 48 • Parliament House • Canberra ACT 2600 • Tel: (02) 6277 7220 • Fax: (02) 6273 4146

Senator The Hon Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs

The Hon Trish Worth MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing

13 May 2003

Government Remains ‘Tough on Drugs’

The Commonwealth Government remains committed to tackling the problems created by illicit drugs. Today’s Budget announcement brings the Government’s total commitment to the National Illicit Drug Strategy Tough on Drugs to more than $1 billion. Tough on Drugs requires both demand and supply reduction measures, and is an ongoing partnership between the Health and Ageing, Justice and Customs, Education, Science and Training and Family and Community Services Portfolios.

The Government welcomes the many recent indicators of the effectiveness of its Tough on Drugs Strategy, including data on illicit drug seizures and marked falls in heroin overdose deaths. In light of these indicators, the Government remains firmly convinced that Tough on Drugs is right for Australia.

In addition to the announcement last December of $215.9 million over four years for the continuation of the Council of Australian Governments Illicit Drug Diversion initiative, the Government is providing $28 million over four years for a range of new priorities and $86.3 million to continue existing efforts under the Strategy.

“Under the new range of demand reduction measures, $14.2 million will be provided to address public health issues including those associated with the increased availability and use of psychostimulants, such as amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine,” the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Trish Worth MP said.

“The funding will be used to look at ways to improve treatment for drug users who have a mental illness as well as establish a National Illicit Drug Strategy Research Fund. In addition, the funding will be used to improve access to drug treatment networks in rural and regional Australia.

“A further $38.6 million will fund the continuation of the COAG Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative’s Needle and Syringe Program, which provides funding to community organisations to provide direct assistance to those dealing with drug abuse at a local level.

“A commitment of an additional $12 million from this Budget will be used to develop key new supply reduction measures,” the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison said.

Senator Ellison said these measures would:

• prevent chemicals being diverted into illicit drug manufacture; • support national monitoring of illicit drug use, markets and criminal activity; and • tackle money laundering associated with drug trafficking, particularly the production and distribution of psychostimulants.

Senator Ellison said the Government had also committed funding totalling $41 million over the next four years that would guarantee the ongoing operational effectiveness of Commonwealth law enforcement by supporting:

• international liaison, cooperation and assistance; • telephone interception capabilities; • the targeting of high-risk financial dealing; and • the improved integration of financial intelligence into major drug and money laundering

investigations.

$5.3 million in 2003-04 has been allocated to continue the National School Drug Education Strategy, building upon the progress achieved to date, and to foster the capacity of school communities to provide safe and supportive school environments for all Australian school students.

$3.2 million in 2003-04 will enable the continuation of the Strengthening and Supporting Families Coping With Illicit Drug Use Initiative. The Initiative provides additional support to families affected by illicit drug use.

Ministers today recognised the expert advice and continued commitment of the Australian National Council on Drugs to the Tough on Drugs Strategy. Chaired by Major Brian Watters AO, the Council will continue to play an integral role in the implementation of the next phase of the Strategy.

Media Contact: Mairi Barton (Senator Ellison) 02/6277 7260 or 0439 300 335 Mark Williams (Ms Worth) 0401 147 558