National Prescription Heroin Trials Urged in Australia, Prime Minister Remains an Obstacle 4/5/02

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

A new effort to begin heroin prescription trials for addicts is underway in Australia. Earlier attempts to begin such trials were stymied by Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who this week signaled that his position remains unchanged. Nonetheless, with the opposition Labor Party in control of all state and territory governments, the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Jon Stanhope, is urging Howard and all state and territory leaders and health ministers to support his proposal for a jointly funded national heroin trial involving the ACT.

Stanhope told the Australian AP on Tuesday he hoped to gain support from other state and territorial governments, adding that the ACT was looking for both political and financial support for the proposal. "I am hopeful that some of my state and territory colleagues will come on board," he said. "I do expect to receive the support of my state and territory colleagues. To some extent, this is a test of their commitment as well."

So far, the response from chief ministers has been mixed. According to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) report Wednesday, Northern Territory Chief Minister Claire Martin has come out in support of the plan, but added that trials in the Northern Territory "would not be appropriate" at this time.

The Australian AP reported similar waffling support from the government of Victoria. According to a spokesman for Victoria Health Minister John Thwaites, the state's Labor government favored such trials but lacked political support. New South Wales said it was unlikely to support the plan. "The government has previously rejected the trial of prescribed heroin and that was also not supported by the NSW drug summit in 1999," a spokesman for NSW Special Minister of State John Della Bosca told the Australian AP.

While acknowledging Prime Minister Howard's opposition to heroin trials, Stanhope said he hoped Howard would come around. "I don't think we should give up just because one person in Australia, one leader out of all the leaders in Australia, has an ideological objection to this sort of approach," Stanhope told the ABC. "I am hoping he will show some leadership on this, he won't dismiss it out of hand, that at least he will be able to consider it seriously."

There is no sign of that yet. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Howard once again rejected heroin trials. "The government's focus will remain on ensuring a wide range of treatment and rehabilitation options aimed at helping illicit drug users kick the habit rather than options that involve maintaining heroin use," he said in a statement. "Prescription heroin trials would send exactly the wrong message to the community and undermine education and treatment efforts," he said.

But Howard was also somewhat on the defensive after a popular public affairs TV program, ABC's "Four Corners," criticized the government's "Tough on Drugs" policy as harsh and ineffective. And in an illuminating indication of the relative backwardness of the US discourse on drug policy, Howard took special criticism from the program for having a "radical" as his chief drug advisor. That advisor is Salvation Army Major Brian Watters, who joined the board of the abstinence-based Freedom from Drugs Foundation in June 2000. Both ABC and The Age newspaper qualified the organization as a "radical zero tolerance drug foundation."

Watters' American peer, US drug czar John Walters, routinely consorts with such groups and receives cheers instead of jeers for so doing. But in the more advanced Australian context, Watters was compelled to distance himself from the foundation. He explained Monday that he was no longer involved with the foundation and that while he had never formally informed the Australian National Council of Drugs, the government body that he chairs, that he was involved with the foundation, he had been open with fellow council members about it.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #231, 4/5/02 Editorial: Contrasts | Supreme Court to Review California's Three-Strikes Sentencing Law | US Alternative Development Plan in Colombia a Failure, Say Officials, Will Be Abandoned in Favor of Spraying and Bullets | Uncovered Documents Reveal State Department Cover-Up of Bolivian Police Murder of Coca Growers Union Leader | US Abandoning Afghan Opium Eradication Effort | National Prescription Heroin Trials Urged in Australia, Prime Minister Remains an Obstacle | Something New Under the Sun: Scots Offer Retox to Prisoners | Upper Class Marijuana Busts Could Lead to Cracks in South Korean Drug War Consensus | DEA Head Calls Mexican Cartels Terrorists in Effort to Link Vastly Different Phenomenon | Media and Resources Online | Alerts: HEA, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, SuperBowl Ad, Ecstasy Legislation, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | The Reformer's Calendar
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]