Pubdate: Tue, 02 Apr 2002
Source: Australian Associated Press (Australia Wire)
Copyright: 2002 Australian Associated Press
Bookmark: (Heroin)


PRIME Minister John Howard has again ruled out supporting heroin trials 
after the ACT today launched another lobbying effort to get a prescription 
trial off the ground. ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope will write to Mr 
Howard, as well all state leaders and health ministers, proposing a jointly 
funded national heroin trial involving the ACT.

Mr Stanhope is hoping for support from his Labor colleagues, who hold 
government in all states and territories, but NSW has already poured cold 
water on the plan.

Mr Howard also repeated the coalition's firm opposition to a trial.

"The government's focus will remain on ensuring a wide range of treatment 
and rehabilitation options aimed at helping illicit drug users to kick the 
habit rather than options that involve maintaining heroin use," he said in 
a statement.

"Prescription heroin trials would send exactly the wrong message to the 
community and undermine education and treatment efforts."

Mr Howard also rejected criticism of the government's Tough on Drugs policy 
on the ABC's Four Corners last night, saying it had reduced the amount of 
heroin on the streets and the number of overdose deaths.

Mr Stanhope said the ACT was looking for financial as well as moral support 
for the proposal, which would need commonwealth assistance to get off the 

"I am also hopeful that some of my state and territory colleagues will come 
on board," he told ABC radio.

"To some extent, this is a test of their commitment as well."

"I think there's two things we would absolutely require before it could go 
ahead, I do need some material support ... from the states and territories, 
we need moral support, I would like to see another state actively 
participate in a trial," Mr Stanhope said.

"More than anything else, we do need the commonwealth to agree to 
facilitate supplies of heroin for use in a prescription and controlled trial."

The NSW government said it was not likely to consider the ACT plan.

"The government has previously ... rejected the trial of prescribed heroin 
and that was also not supported by the NSW drug summit in 1999," a 
spokesman for Special Minister of State, John Della Bosca, said.

A spokeswoman for Victorian Health Minister John Thwaites said the state's 
Labor government supported a limited heroin trial but it did not have the 
political support.

Meanwhile, a Uniting Church pastor predicted heroin trials would eventually 
get off the ground because governments would be unable to continue to deny 
the success of overseas studies.

Ray Richmond, pastor of the Kings Cross Wayside Chapel crisis centre, said 
a trial offered hope to hardcore users who needed to break not only their 
drug addiction but also their dependence on crime to fund it.

"With the amount of evidence worldwide, it can't be held back any longer 
with any reasonable excuse," Mr Richmond said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Alex