Friday, 20 March 2009

Do Dickhead Politicians Grow on Trees in WA?

There seems to be a spike in dickheadness lately from the WA political arena especially in regards to drug policy. Sadly, pointing out dickheads is becoming all too common on this website but it’s our duty to inform the public of this phallic phenomenon. Especially when the dickhead in question is a scurrilous politician on the public purse.

Let me introduce Luke Simpkins MP for Cowan in WA. Simpkins has given a speech in parliament in response to an article in The Australian titled, ‘Labor softens heroin stance as it splits from US policy’. The article suggested that Australia(under Labor) was being ‘soft on drugs’ by supporting Harm Minimisation at the latest UNGASS meeting in Vienna. Reading through Simpkins speech has reinforced our duty to highlight how dangerous and unrealistic politicians can be and if necessary, declare them dickheads. Declaration made!

First of all, anyone who has to rummage through the city rubbish dump looking for a copy of The Bishop Report: “The Winnable War on Drugs” is destined to be a bit nutty. Secondly, admitting publicly they found it or even worse, promoting it is a serious offence to sensibility and indictable by being labelled a dickhead.

Unbelievably though, this is not the worst of it. Simpkins actually says that Harm Minimisation has failed and is a “generally discredited” approach to dealing with drugs. Eh? It’s hard to discredit something that has never been fully implemented ... and discredited by who? Fellow dickheads? Of course this was followed up with a call to implement a Zero Tolerance policy under that purposely confusing term, harm prevention. No Surrender Simpkin has creatively called his approach, “No Surrender”. No, he is not an ex advertising guru, he thought this up all by himself. So what does ‘No Surrender’ entail?
I personally advocate the harm prevention approach, which I also call the ‘no surrender’ approach. That, in my mind, includes three main strategies: to stop supply; to educate people; and to rehabilitate users through enforced treatment, either by sanctions or otherwise, and through testing, to make sure that there is actually going to be progress.
-Luke Simpkins MP Cowan (WA)
If it sounds familiar it might be because it is Harm Minimisation with the 3rd strategy reversed. Most of the pundits who express their strong opposition to Harm Minimisation seem to overlook that the first two parts are supply reduction and demand reduction.

The controversial third pillar, harm reduction is just part of the overall policy called Harm Minimisation. Anyway, here’s what Simpkins has suggested as part of his ‘No Surrender’ strategy:
-Permanent removal of children from drug-addicted parents.
-Restrictions on methadone programs
-Removal of funding for harm minimisation programs
-Removal of funding for harm minimisation publications
-Rehabilitation through forced treatment
-Restricting alcohol content
-Raising the drinking age to 21

Simpkin also hints at abstinence as the only successful outcome by testing those in treatment. How can a leader in today’s society of science and technology be so far removed from reality? Simpkins rant is not about modern medical treatment but right wing voodoo ideology likened to medieval alchemy or homeopathy.

Why can’t the Libs shake off Howard’s tough on drugs rhetoric especially references to The Bishop Report: “The Winnable War on Drugs”? With the current push by the US and other nations towards a more pragmatic approach to drug policy including harm reduction, Simpkins appears like a Japanese soldier isolated on an island after WW2 not aware the war is over. To others, he is simply a dickhead.

The Article
The article in The Australian was not unexpected considering the conservative slant of Murdoch’s trash media empire. Decrying sensible alternatives to failed harsh strategies as being ‘soft on drugs’ is a common tactic. It relies on the ignorance of the public and the assumption that being ‘tough’ stops drug use and being ‘soft’ increases it.
The Rudd Government has moved to reassert the role of controversial harm-reduction strategies in the fight against the illicit drug trade, splitting from the US at a major international drug forum on the issue.
-Labor softens heroin stance as it splits from US policy -
The Australian
Controversial? It’s been part of our national drug policy since 1984. Who writes this shit? The drug forum mentioned had the US reject the term harm reduction because it include some strategies the US doesn’t support like prescription heroin and safe injection rooms.

The article fails to include that the US under Obama has over turned the ban on federal funding for needle exchanges and even endorses the program ... a harm reduction program. The consensus from the UNGASS meeting in Vienna was that the health of drug users was a priority with a aim to reduce harm. It was the terminology that had nations squabbling especially from the old school leftovers of the Bush administration. 

Concerned about the article, Tony Trimingham, Founder of Family Drug Support wrote this revealing letter to the editor of The Australian:

Dear Editor
It is with some dismay that I read the Australian’s headline (‘Labor softens heroin stance’ – 18/3/09) – the story itself appears to be about Australia at a UN meeting in Vienna promoting its balanced and pragmatic national drug strategy which combines supply, demand and harm reduction approaches. Something they are rightly deserving of praise for doing and is also something I personally know to be a view shared by many in the drug and alcohol field including the Australian National Council on Drugs. Why the media persist in trying to portray any statements about evidence based approaches that have been developed over many years and have been adopted by the majority of governments as being ‘soft’ does a disservice to the public. Do we really think that policies that end up seeing more people die, become HIV positive and being locked up in jails, such as we see in the USA and Russia is a drug strategy that should be supported and adopted by Australia?
-Tony Trimingham Founder Family Drug Support
Harm Minimisation is supposed to be Australia’s official drug policy although this escaped Bronwyn Bishop and John Howard who amazingly denied it whilst in office. Unfortunately it has never been implemented properly and we have continued to apply many of the failed strategies from the US "War on Drugs". WA had started to implement some serious policy changes with positives results but a new government seems hellbent on ignoring the success and reverting back to the rhetoric driven failures. We are also seeing this in SA from the Rann government. Is the Rudd government going to follow this lead? If the declaration at the UNGASS from 26 countries including Australia is an indication, we might finally be on the road towards some sensible drug policies.
Luke Simpkins (Cowan, Liberal Party)
Open Australia
Constituency Statements
Illicit Drugs

I would like to speak this morning on the matter of illicit drugs. This morning in the Australian there was a highly-concerning report on the front page suggesting that the government is pursuing the failed and generally discredited harm minimisation approach to dealing with drugs. I hope that this is not true. Instead, the government should be pursuing the harm prevention approach. I personally advocate the harm prevention approach, which I also call the ‘no surrender’ approach. That, in my mind, includes three main strategies: to stop supply; to educate people; and to rehabilitate users through enforced treatment, either by sanctions or otherwise, and through testing, to make sure that there is actually going to be progress.

I would like to acknowledge the great work done by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services, with their 2007 report The winnable war on drugsbecause the day that we think that we can no longer win is the day that we surrender, and I would hate to see that day. The report made a number of recommendations. There are just over 30 recommendations. I would certainly like to endorse the permanent removal of children from drug-addicted parents. I would also like to endorse restrictions on methadone programs and the absolute elimination of funding for harm minimisation programs or harm minimisation publications. I believe that these are important steps forward to address the drug situation in this country.

A lot has been said in the parliament recently about another drug—that being the legal drug of alcohol. The government is pursuing the approach of taxation to try to deal with the issue of binge drinking. I would like to see the day when we pass legislation which would restrict the alcohol content of drinks. If the government is really keen on dealing with this binge-drinking problem it might consider, as some have advocated, raising the drinking age to 21. I am sure that that would be extremely unpopular, but it may help. Ultimately these things are about free choice, but in the case of illicit drugs I think the hard line needs to be taken of harm prevention and never harm minimisation or harm reduction—or, otherwise, surrender to the scourge of illicit drugs.
Related Articles: Drug Bins in WA Brings Out the Nutters WA Liberals Become Even Sillier WA Liberals - Drug Policy Blues


Anonymous said...

You said "How can a leader in today’s society of science and technology be so far removed from reality? Simpkins rant is not about modern medical treatment but right wing voodoo ideology likened to medieval alchemy or homeopathy."

That is so fucking true, Terry! It's like a politician advocating for exorcism's of the mentally ill or blood letting the people with AIDS.

In this year 2009 how is it possible that there are still so many people that actually believe in the "religon" of WOD and abstinance based treatment protocols?

It makes me MAD CRAZY.

I have no doubt we will someday look back on these past 100years of prohibition and incarceration with absolute shame and horror. Much the way we look at the Witch hunts in the 100's or slavery!

Gledwood said...

Yes they grow on the Tree of Unimaginative Clones...

Anonymous said...

I am sickened and disgusted by the things I have read lately, Terry. Towns in the US are enacting "preventative" ordinances to keep MMT clinics from locating there even though none have asked to do so, by restricting them so much they cannot locate at all. The latest one restricted clinics to a manufactring zone and stated they must be 1000 feet from--residences, schools, daycares, parks, libraries, hospitals, funeral parlours, nursing homes, churches, and a few other places. This left exactly ONE lot on the whole city, which was on an army munitions plant, behind a high security fence and barbed wire. They know the army will not allow a clinic to site there, but they said that was not their problem--their problem was only to protect the citizens from the methadone patients at all costs. In fact, they made this applicable not JUST to MMT clinics but to ALL "drug treatment facilities". There was a great deal of back-patting for their crafty plot, and statements about how other twons all over the state are "doing the same thing". Yes indeed, eliminating drug treatment facilities will certainly make for safe towns.


Terry Wright said...

Thanks ARMME
Yes, it's disgraceful. I feel sorry for the children of the dickheads who will have to live with the shame and stupidity of their parents forever. Imagine being in school and reading about the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s when your father appears as one the government stooges? History can be cruel to children of dickheads.

Thanks G.
LOL. Right on!

Howdy Zenith. It's been a long time my friend.

The clinic system in the US has to go. There needs to be many more dispensaries with less patients and the chemists can fill that need perfectly.

What are these people thinking by stopping methadone clinics? Would they rather addicts not be treated? No wonder you're angry.

Take care.