Thursday, 6 January 2011

Drug Dealers Have to Live Somewhere

What should the Office of Housing do when someone is convicted of low level drug dealing? This seems to be the hot issue at the moment. You may have heard recently that due to a technicality, VCAT have overturned an eviction notice for “TK” who was charged with selling heroin on public housing property. Apparently, there is a loophole that clears “TK” because the incident did not occur in his flat but on common ground.

This has sparked an outrage from hundreds of readers and listeners of various media outlets. Leading the pack of course is News Ltd’s HeraldSun who have published at least four articles about the issue in 24 hours. Check out these headlines: Heroin Den Makes Joke Of Legislation and Hot Topic: Heroin Den Shame

A ludicrous technicality has allowed a convicted heroin dealer to stay in his apartment in a public housing estate.
A needy family will have to wait for the next vacancy while the legislation is made to look a laughing stock.
--Herald Sun Editorial: Heroin Den Makes Joke Of Legislation

Hot on the heels of the HeraldSun was 3AW and their crack announcer, Nick MaCallum. On his show, Nick interviewed Housing Minister, Wendy Lovell who was just as outraged as the announcer. The happy couple chatted intently about disgraceful drug dealers, the appalling decision by VCAT and who deserves public housing.

It’s not acceptable that people who are in public housing abuse the system. We want to see good families housed in our properties.
Clearly, Victorian taxpayers have a right to expect that there’s a mutual obligation if the taxpayer subsidises housing for people then there’s a mutual obligation for those people to treat that housing with respect and to act in a way that we find acceptable in our society.
-- Wendy Lovell: Victorian Housing Minister (3AW)

Eventually, an underlying theme appeared when a perspicacious Nick probed the Housing Minister about her views on heroin dealers. Wendy Lovell admitted it was not part of her portfolio but coughed up an opinion anyway.

Nick MaCallum: On the broader issues here. I know they don’t fall into your portfolio but I just want to get your gut reaction to this. First of all, admitted 3 times to trafficking in heroin. Are you frustrated that he didn’t go to jail in the first place. 

Wendy Lovell:  Well that’s not for me to comment on. That’s outside my portfolio area but what I can say Nick is that I have  Zero Tolerance with drug dealing and I will be looking to make sure that we toughen up every law possible to ensure that this activity is not taking place on Office of Housing properties.

But this whole affair is not really about VCAT or some legal loophole. It’s about the public’s attitude towards drug users. Especially those who sell drugs. 

The fact is, most small time heroin dealers are addicts who desperately need money to fund their addiction. But this act of selling drugs is abhorrent to most people who’s views have been clouded by years of anti-drug rhetoric. Mostly, these small time dealers or user/dealers keep to themselves and operate within a tiny circle of other users or addicts. We tend to overlook the fact that selling drugs keeps them from committing crimes which would involve hurting others. 

Why do so many people want to dig out these user/dealers and create an even worse scenario? What is the logic behind this insatiable need to stop an activity that doesn’t affect them? It doesn’t make sense to end their income stream when the alternative involves committing crimes against innocent victims. The question we need to ask is why small time drug dealing warrants more disdain than robberies, theft and hold ups?

If they commit a crime anywhere, whether it be on the property or not, surely they should lose their right to public housing.
Why wasn’t he sent to jail for 3 times trafficking.
--Nick MaCallum: 3AW Announcer

The response from the Housing Minister, Wendy Lovell and the media missed a vital point in regards to the issue of public housing for drug addicts/users/dealers … these people have to live somewhere. Simply moving the problem around has become the standard course of action regarding drug issues. The infamous balloon effect should be an easy concept but the number of government officials and policy makers who fail to grasp this notion is just incredible. If “TK” was kicked out, I wonder what the harsh critics would say if he moved in next door to them?

It is unacceptable for everyone - the taxpayers who are subsidising public housing and those waiting for public housing - to see people in public housing abusing the system. It is not acceptable for people being forced to live next door to drug dealers.
-- Wendy Lovell: Victorian Housing Minister

Using the excuse that over 41,000 families are waiting for public housing is just a excuse to direct anger at a public enemy - druggies. These people are not rich but border on the edge of poverty. Many of them suffer depression or some mental health disorder and live a daily nightmare we can’t even imagine. They need accommodation just as much as anyone else. If public housing was only for “good families”, as Wendy Lovell said, the high rises would be nearly empty.

As usual, the News Ltd readers flocked to the comments section, attracted by the opportunity to slam those filthy junkies. And, as usual, we saw how screwed up some people really are.

Good lord. Can someone just take out the tool and give the flat to a much needy family? Better still, HOW ABOUT YOU OD AND GO AWAY you filth.

Jackie of Victoria:
What an a$$hole he deserves to be living on the streets - the courts need to be examined for their senseless judgements.

Glenn of Melbourne:
I'm sick to death hearing that Drug Dependance is a disease. Clearly, it starts as a Lifestyle choice before it becomes an addiction. The easiest way to handle this, is to build more jails, make them less friendly to be in (no internet, tv etc..), make the sentences longer with no time off for good behaviour and lock them away. Eventually they may see the light.

Wot a joke! socialist do-gooders helping drug dealers. Oh and ahhhh, even if he is jailed, DHS keep the flat for him for when he gets out as I understand it.
Comment 9 of 199

Very angry of St Albans:
…Does this make anyone else want to vomit with rage or is it just me

Tom Payne:
…Lock the freak up

This country is gonna be the third world pits in less than 20 years, and it's because we try to be the do-gooder, fair legal system, help everyone, CRAP! Build more jails, Get rid of nice-as-pie judges, Lock up criminals, Close down Centrelink forever, and this country will be beautiful again!

Ike of Melbourne:
Breaching this unnamed drug dealer's Rights? ?!! What about the safety concerns for families and children living nearby in other Units...while some of these drug dealing transactions were going on? Drug transactions do not always go according to plan, or on the most social and friendliest of terms , do they? It is a fair thing to consider that neighbors were placed in some danger, by the types that would be attracted into the same vicinity, to negotiate and buy. Perhaps, ask some of those V.C.A.T members whether they would be also willing to tolerate drug dealers next door, to their homes. The legal hick-up though, not to oust the dealer under Victorian Government 'Human Rights' Laws...goes straight back to legislation by the previous Labor Party Victorian Government. Don't you JUST love the Labor Party ....for all their stupid ideas, which finished up protecting Melbourne's criminals ?

Pedro in the Marsh:
Hooray for VCAT, I will chuck in my job and become a drug dealing housing commission resident, get a job driving a taxi where I can happily watch porno movies and breach traffic laws safe in the knowledge I will be protected by VCAT.... Get real. Who are you people. Offenders such as these should be punished, the community demands that this be so.

Jo of vic:
show us the name, face, ethnicity of this loser.. why are we protecting the thugs? Is he one of the 'refugees'? How did he get here?

typical herald sun reader of the western suburbs:

chris of kurunjang:
Why is this piece of scum not in jail? and when will any Govt put into place proper laws that will fix this and other similar situations so that we can reclaim this state from the filth dealing drugs. dealers caught and convicted should automatically go to jail for a minimum of 20years.

Nik of Travencore:
Fantastic!!!! Now that this person is still able to maintain his residency, I will have to keep an additional eye on all my property. Police have convicted him as a drug dealer ...... so im sure his current job role will soon change from "dealer" to "stealer". How else will he maintain his current drug habit.
Comment 179 of 199

And out of nearly 200 comments, these were the only sensible statements.

Andy of Sunshine:
This poor fellow has a drug problem. He is attending to the financial requirements of that by selling drugs to willing buyers. Would you rather he broke into your house and stole your laptop? This is not a drug kingpin we are talking about here. Better access to a wider range of treatment options (including prescription heroin) would go a long way to fixing issues like this. And of course, we could do a lot better with our welfare system - currently we seem hell-bent on creating and maintaining a permanent underclass who are virtually shut out of "respectable" society.

Pat of Melbourne:
He is selling heroin to support his own addiction. He had $400 in crime proceeds, this is a non-story. What will throwing him on the streets acheive? The poor guy probably has a horrible addiction and illness. I think the bigger isssue is the fact that the cops can never find any of the main players, yet they think they have hit the jackpot when they arrest a pointless guy like this.


Mark O'Brien said...

Thanks very much for this thoughtful piece Terry. It seemed like no one was interested in the real person TK and a shame that this so called debate was framed as lets be as nasty as we can about heroin users. This a low form of vigilantism by the Herald Sun and not how good public policy is made. Kind Regards.

Gledwood said...

I really think that bastard should be chucked out on the street. Did you know just before heroin dealers go to bed, instead of washing their face, they rip the skin off, revealing the satanic-lizard creature that lurks beneath.

Chuck 'im on the street. Let him rob the bourgeoisie of their valuables. Fucking serve them right.

Those "aggravated" crimes piss me off too. The idea that buying/selling heroin within 200 yards of a school warrants a higher penalty. About half the dealers I used to meet met me within 200 yards of some school or other. NOT at the gates. On a side street inacessable from the school, because schools generally have just one or two entrances.

Fucking idiot politicians. I really would like to slip methadone in their food every day, upping the dose to several hundred mgs, pull the plug suddenly and hand the cunts a dripping syringe full of gear saying "this will make you better"... then see how their half-arsed opinions change.

Once their cash had gone, these slimy bastards would find themselves in prison within the year. Because unlike you and me, they have no morals at all.

Terry Wright said...

Thanks Mark and Gleds.

The Herald Sun really had a blast spilling their hatred on TK. Did we really expect them to be any different?

Did you notice the comments from Herald Sun readers? Some of them are really sick.

What about Nick MaCallum on 3AW? He tried to push Wendy Lovell into one of her usual rants that call for anyone with a criminal record to be booted from public housing. Also, several times he questioned why TK was not in jail for his previous crimes. He was on a mission!

I see you're as angry as I am. I must admit, I felt every word you wrote and share your disillusion with the current situation. It's good for the soul to lash out once in a while.

You are correct in saying that most politicians would change their attitude if they were in the same predicament as you or myself. I hate the idea that some buckethead in government makes such critical decisions that affect my life without having the proper credentials, experience or credibility.

I have read several times about laws in some US states that greatly increases the punishment for selling/using drugs within a certain distance from schools. The laws can sometimes include other places like churches and day care centres. If you draw a circle around the places on a map, they overlap and cover anywhere with civilisation. Only rural and industrial areas seem to be excluded. In other words, nowhere in a city or town is exempt so you automatically cop the harsher penalties which can be completely barbaric.

Anonymous said...

to begin it is the government that has failed all of us by not stopping heroin getting into the country. Why do we have customs AFP state police? They allowed it on to the streets so a market could boom then everyone wants theses unfortunate souls thrown in jail. so lets pay for theses agencies to not stop the drugs getting in then pay for the dealers and users to stay at Her Majesties pleasure (THAT MEANS JAIL TO ALL U MORONS WHO HAVEN.T BEEN)at around 60K TO 70K a year plus court costs to get them there.

Andy Perceval said...

Being a junkie used to carry an inherent risk of an early death. In more recent times, this risk has been all but eliminated by a multitude of interventions and the lifestyle is actively enabled by public housing and welfare payments. Natural attrition has been overcome and junkies now survive and breed. Their offspring are usually born brain damaged and addicted. There are second and third generation junkies, living in public housing and considered disabled enough to be pensioners.