Australia to highlight issues around ice at UN drugs policy conference

Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash, will attend the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna.

Page last updated: 08 March 2015

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8 March 2015

Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash, will attend the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna this week, urging action to tackle the trade, distribution and manufacture of synthetic drugs including methamphetamine and new psychoactive substances.

Australia will point to the increasing challenge for public health and law enforcement due to the rapid emergence of many new synthetic drugs, including amphetamine-type stimulants such as Ice and new psychoactive substances.

"The abuse of Ice is an issue I am deeply concerned about and take a personal interest in," Minister Nash said.

"When I talk to people around Australia, and regional people in particular, I hear terrible stories about the effect Ice has had on the lives of users, their families and friends. Ice carries a casual name but is a deadly drug - it devastates lives and families. This is an issue which has touched so many Australians and I'm determined to do all I can to tackle issues of drug abuse and stamp out use of drugs such as Ice.

"I'm keen to take Australia's concerns, experiences and ideas to the world, and learn from the experiences and ideas of other countries. This may help in our quest to crush the importation, manufacture and supply of deadly drugs. Drugs such as Ice require effort from all sections of society to eradicate; from police and politicians to mums and dads, teachers and school mates - no government can do this on its own.

“Australia’s police and customs seizures of amphetamine-type stimulants – both at the border and domestically – are currently the highest on record. However, globally, synthetic drugs are increasing in both purity and availability and Australia is not immune from this. The number of Ice users has more than doubled in just three years, and the purity of methamphetamine has trebled since 2010 in some jurisdictions."

As head of Australia’s delegation to the session, Minister Nash will emphasise that the key to Australia’s drugs policy is recognising both the health and law enforcement aspects of drug use.

“Law enforcement efforts to disrupt the manufacture and supply of drugs should be supported with prevention and treatment that can reduce demand for drugs,” Minister Nash said.

Minister Nash will also hold top-level talks with heads of delegations from other countries and drug control experts.

Australia will also reassure the international community of Australia’s continued commitment to being a safe and secure producer of licit poppies.

“We recognise that it is important to achieve a balance between the demand for and the supply of medical opiates and other controlled drugs for legitimate medical and scientific needs – and I will be reassuring the session about the safety of Australia’s involvement in the legal poppy industry,” Minister Nash said.

Media contact: Les White, 0409 805 122
Sam Harma, 0428 820 499

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