Pubdate: Wed, 16 Feb 2000
Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
Copyright: News Limited 2000
Author: David Penington


ANDREW BOLT's article (Heraid Sun, February 10) illustrates his 
single-minded crasade against injecting facilities, despite the fact that 
we are facing an alarmingly steep rise in deaths associated with heroin 

The Age article that he cites was by a journalist who assures me that she 
was describing my statement about European practices, not Melbourne plans. 
I accept her interpretation.

I have never asserted that injecting facilities were the only factor 
leading to reduction in deaths in Frankfurt.

I was responding to Andrew Bolt's assertion that it was a "wild boast" that 
death rates had fallen five to 10-fold in some cities with safe injecting 

My statement is correct.  Switzerland began operating such facilities in 
the 1980s.

In 1991, Frankfurt moved for the first time to a "harm reduction" approach, 
which Australia had adopted nationally in 1985.

The Issues paper of the Victorian Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee, on 
safe injecting facilities (p3) notes the fall in overdose deaths in 
Frankfurt between 1991 and 1997.

It notes that "this has been attributed to a range of harm reduction 
programs of which SIPs an a key part".

I have stated that injecting facilities can reduce deaths among the street 
users who will use them. The evidence is there.

The major benefit for the community will be to get the injecting, the 
needles and syringes off the streets. Surely this is worthwhile.

We will continue to work at the broad task ahead of us on these major 
issues, despite carping criticism from Andrew Bolt.

David Penington.
Drug Policy Expert Committee 
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart