Pubdate: Tue, 27 Nov 2001
Source: Australian Associated Press (Australia Wire)
Copyright: 2001 Australian Associated Press
Author: Liza Kappelle
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)


INJECTING rooms will not be an option for West Australian heroin addicts, 
after the government today rejected the notion on the basis that WA's drug 
problem was not as concentrated as in other cities.

And, despite a state government endorsement for prescription heroin trials, 
WA addicts will not be able to access this treatment either because of lack 
of federal government support.

The government was responding today to recommendations made in August by a 
community drugs summit, set up to look at ways of reducing drug use in the 

Safe injecting rooms was a key recommendation of the summit, attended by 
100 delegates from addicts to academics - and was the only one of 45 
suggestions rejected by the government.

An injecting room opened in Sydney's Kings Cross in May this year after 
several years of contentious debate.

But Premier Geoff Gallop said WA would not follow suit because drug use in 
Perth was not as concentrated on the streets as in other cities, meaning 
the city would not get enough value for its money.

"Drug use is spread throughout the community - we don't have the same 
extent of the problem that we get in Victoria and NSW," Dr Gallop said.

Dr Gallop said the government backed the recommendation for prescription 
heroin trials but he said lack of federal government support meant they 
could not go ahead.

"The fact of the matter is the federal government needs to give its 
endorsement and John Howard has made it clear that he is not going to allow 
any heroin trials in Australia."

Holding the community drugs summit was a key election pledge of the Gallop 

Dr Gallop said $5 million would be added to the $51 million drugs 
prevention budget - much of which would be used to address the needs of 
young drug users and those from indigenous or non-English-speaking backgrounds.

The decriminalisation of cannabis was endorsed by the Gallop government in 
response to the summit proposals.

People discovered with up to two plants or 25 grams would be dealt with 
outside the criminal system under the proposals.

State opposition leader Colin Barnett said later he was appalled the 
government had accepted the drug summit recommendations to allow 
cultivation of cannabis, to legalise personal use of the drug and to 
endorse heroin trials.

"While most of the recommendations are good and will build on the 
initiatives established by the former coalition government, the approach to 
cannabis use and cultivation and the support for heroin trials will do 
nothing to address our drug abuse problem," Mr Barnett said.
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