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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 15317

Tough on Drugs Strategy Announcement Salvation Army, Sydney

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 22/04/2007

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 15317


Thank you very much John. Jan, I am delighted to see your wife. Christopher Pyne, the Minister for Ageing, but also as Parliamentary Secretary and Assistant Minister in his earlier manifestation played a very significant role in assisting me in relation to the anti-drugs policy. And can I say how delighted I am to see Brian Watters and his wife here today. Brian of course was the chairman of the Council and did a wonderful job before he was called to international duties in the fight against drugs.

I am here today and I want to thank the Salvation Army for allowing us to use this centre as a place to launch it and to say how delighted I was before speaking to you to meet a number of people who are being assisted by the program, to hear their stories and to know that the path back can be a highly successful one although an arduous and difficult one which requires the support of family and friends but also the wonderful services of organisations such as the Salvation Army. A part of our society for which I have unbounded admiration and respect.

I am here today to announce an additional $150 million to add to the investment of $1.3 billion now over a number of years, stretching back to 1997 to increase the tempo of the fight against drugs in our community. I am proudly a zero tolerance man when it comes to drug abuse. I make no bones about that. I have never made any bones about it. It was an unpopular cause a few years ago. I was told that I was out of touch because I had a zero tolerance approach to the use of marijuana. As time has gone by there has been a greater realisation of the fatal link between marijuana abuse and many kinds of mental illness.

But I wouldn't want anybody to think that there has been a disproportionate emphasis on law enforcement in our program, indeed of the $1.3 billion that has been spent over the last few years some 60 to 65 per cent has gone into prevention and rehabilitation with some 35 to 40 per cent into law enforcement. You need three elements; you need to help people to rehabilitate, you need to educate people against the dangers of drugs in the first place and you need uncompromising law enforcement to catch the people who would traffic in the misery and unhappiness and death of others.

And once again those three elements are in the package I am announcing today. We're putting over $100 million for new drug rehabilitation services and further support for those in the drug and alcohol sector who are fighting the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse. And this includes an amount of $23 million particularly targeted to programs which are dealing with this dreadful new phenomenon that is commonly called Ice; a new drug which has devastating behavioral consequences. Some of the stories of the way in which people have been terrorised and the way in which those who are addicted to Ice lose all semblance of control and lapse into violent, uncontrolled often homicidal rage. And it is a frightening drug and we need a special emphasis, and so we're going to put $103 million into, not only strengthening the additional rehabilitation services, which means that organisations will be able to get more money to do the things they are now doing so well and to do them better, but we're also going to have an additional emphasis in tackling the modern scourge of Ice.

The second element will be some $9 million to improve the drug prevention education for young Australians and provide the right information to parents. We found when we circulated a booklet a few years ago, and there was a lot of cynicism about this; people said

Transcript 15317