The NSW Government has deferred finalising its drug reforms because it has been unable to agree on how to deal with people caught with a small amount of illicit substances for personal use.

  • A special commission of inquiry into the drug ice made 109 recommendations
  • The NSW Government will wait until the new year to finalise a response
  • The Attorney-General says NSW needs to fight drugs “harder and smarter”

The Government had set a deadline of the end of the year to respond to a special commission of inquiry into the drug ice.
The inquiry made 109 recommendations, but it emerged two weeks ago that Cabinet was divided on how to implement some of the recommendations around punishing personal drug possession.
The decision has now been made to respond to the inquiry in the new year.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman is responsible for the response and released a statement addressing the issues and concerns that have been raised publicly by some of his colleagues who are uncomfortable with the reforms.
“The inquiry proposed an alternative to decriminalisation: the strengthening of diversion for drug-related offending,” Mr Speakman said.
“For low-level offenders with small amounts of drugs for personal use, the inquiry recommended that the Government introduce a legislated police diversion scheme with elements including referral by police to an appropriate health intervention.”
Under such a scheme police would be given the power to impose an “immediate sanction” and “divert” offenders away from court.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman says he “gets” why MP’s feel uneasy over drug diversion.(AAP: Joel Carrett)
A person caught with drugs for personal use would instead be forced to participate in a health-based program.
The inquiry also recommended mandated rehabilitation programs for those already in the criminal justice system as part of their bail conditions to reduce the likelihood of reoffending.
“Diversion is not radical or ground-breaking,” Mr Speakman said.
But he conceded “many people have expressed concern about drug diversion”.
“I get that,” he said.
Mr Speakman maintained he was committed to seeing through drug reform, despite opposition from some within his own Government.
“It is often said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” he said.
“We need to fight illicit drugs harder and smarter.”
Another senior Liberal, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, supported deferring a decision.
“You don’t rush sensitive decisions,” he said.
“What’s most important for the Government on any issue, particularly when you set up reviews, is that when we respond well.”
When asked if he thought the Government could reach a consensus, he responded: “I think so”.

You may also like