President’s Annual Report 2001

The year saw a heroin drought extending from December through to the present, although signs of the drought breaking are now evident. As a consequence Australia saw a reduction in overdose deaths but also a large increase in amphetamine and cocaine use that was substituted for heroin. Treatment centres reported greater difficulties because of the lack of effective treatments for amphetamine and cocaine use.
Opportunistically the federal government claimed it had been responsible for the drought with its tough on drugs strategy. A closer analysis indicates that it is more likely be attributed to adverse weather conditions affecting growing, and business decisions taken by organised crime to divert the heroin elsewhere and substitute amphetamines. This latter point was made by AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty.
Support for a heroin trial trended upward, according to opinion polls.
At a joint sitting of both houses of the Victorian Parliament on drugs Neil Comrie claimed “the so called war on drugs is failing to come to grips with the fact that addiction is a health problem”:
The National Crime Authority issued a commentary which referred to the damage to society that organised crime syndicates trading in illicit drugs was causing.
The change of government in WA saw that state conduct a drug summit.
Both ACT and federal ALP launched their drug policies.
The ACT government changed to a minority Labor government after the election and one that as a whole is much more likely to be sympathetic to our viewpoint.
The federal government remained a Liberal government after its election.
After the Chamber of Commerce lost its appeal against it, the Kings Cross injecting room opened. The injecting room at the 6 month point had 1500 registered users and had resuscitated 88 persons following overdose, some of whom may not have survived the overdose if it had occurred elsewhere.
The term for members of the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) ended in March. We witnessed the manipulation of membership to one that was more favourably disposed toward the Prime Minister’s view. Notably Tony Trimingham, a supporter of a broader approach, was not reappointed
Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform
Annual Report
22 November 2001
Page 2
and in his stead Anne Bressington, a supporter of naltrexone treatment, was appointed. The value of the ANCD has not been enhanced by these changes.
Debra Sands, a member of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform, featured in the ABC’s Australian Story.

Read the full report