Tuesday, 12 August 2008

WA Liberals - Drug Policy Blues

As the WA election draws nearer, the chances of progressing the state’s drug laws looks doubtful. The risk of being called “Soft on Drugs” is too much for a politician to bear so it’s probably no surprise, the opposition Liberal Party wants to repeal some of the most sensible drug laws in Australia because they are “too soft”. This is known as being “Soft on Brain Tissue”.

Liberals to repeal 'soft' cannabis laws if elected

ABC Online

The State Opposition Leader Colin Barnett has re-affirmed the Liberal Party's commitment to repeal Labor's cannabis laws.

Mr Barnett has spent the fifth day of the election campaign promoting the policy at a drug rehabilitation clinic for young people in South Perth.

He says Labor's laws send the wrong message that drugs are not harmful.

Mr Barnett says a Liberal government would also ban the sale of drug related paraphernalia.

"If elected a Liberal government will repeal Labor's soft cannabis laws," he said.

"They were a mistake when they were introduced and they have had a damaging effect on young people in Western Australia."

Just one question for Colin Barnett. Where’s your evidence?

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Nah, didn’t think so.

Meanwhile, W.A. police are actually doing something positive about the drug problem. In an attempt to crack down on the dangerous drug, ethanol (street name - alcohol), they have refrained from applying more punitive actions to users and taken a positive step to engage them. Read on for a practical approach that the W.A. opposition should be looking into instead of the same, old failed policies of the last 40 years.

Police unleash new weapon: God

WA Today

Chris Thomson - August 2008

A street chaplaincy service, designed along the lines of one operating for two years in Brisbane, will start up in Northbridge this Friday night.

"We need changes in there," Central Metropolitan District Superintendent Duane Bell said.

"We have put plenty of police in, but many people in there have complex issues.

"We can't do everything and the chaplains will offer a service to complement what the police do."

Last year, Superintendent Bell visited Fortitude Valley, an inner-north entertainment precinct of Brisbane similar in feel to Northbridge.

He was so impressed with the street chaplaincy service there that he started pushing for a similar service in Perth.

Taking up the cudgels was Garth Eichhorn, a Baptist pastor who has worked in Northbridge for 18 years.

"We'll be offering ourselves to care for people in crisis," Dr Eichhorn said.

"The emphasis is on 'offer', we're not going to bust in on people.

"We are there to sort out the odd fight, help people who might be a bit depressed and be there as a listening ear for them."

Drawn from a rostered pool of 12, two so-called Street Chaplains will beat the streets between 11pm and 6am every Friday and Saturday night for six weeks from this weekend.

A review will then be conducted, and Dr Eichhorn is confident the chaplains will become a permanent fixture.

"The chaplains are absolutely loved in Brisbane," Dr Eichhorn said.

"All the ambos, the police and the bouncers know them.

"They trust the chief chaplain so much that he'll take duty of care in an emergency situation, including administering first aid."

Dr Eichhorn's chaplains won't be administering first aid, for now at least.

"We may look at that down the track," Dr Eichhorn said.

"But for now, the two rostered chaplains will have phones to call the police and ambos if anything serious is encountered."

Each chaplain has received safety training from police.

A wide range of Christian denominations is represented.

"We have no inclination toward proselytising or bible bashing," Dr Eichhorn said.

"We'll be doing just what Jesus Christ did - compassionately caring for people."

Chair of the City of Perth's Safe City Coordinating Group, Janet Davidson, has also seen the Brisbane chaplains in action, during a visit to Fortitude Valley in May.

"The street chaplains service will be a great addition to the services provided by police," Councillor Davidson said.

"They will be very friendly and not intimidating at all.

"They are there to give help and support and, when it's needed, refer people on to agencies that can help."

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