Pubdate: Wed, 23 Sep 1998
Source: Australian, The (Australia)
Author: Senator Amanda Vanstone


YOUR editorial Bolkus Gaffe Diminishes Drug Debate (18/9), rightly
criticising Nick Bolkus for tacky remarks about the heroin problem,
contains a number of factual errors.

First, you repeat the claim by Senator Bolkus that Australian Federal
Police funding has been cut. This isn't the case. Under the first
three years of the Howard Government, the APP has been funded for
expenditure of $810 million, compared with $738 million for the last
three years of Labor. The Government has recognised that the APP base
funding level needs to be increased, but this does not mean that it
has been cut.

Second, you assert that the National Crime Authority has been ignored
and "was strangely absent from the Coalitions crime and drugs strategy
statements." Let me quote from our crime statement which mentions the
provision "$21 million over four years to target drug importation
through the National Crime Authority's investigation of organised
crime syndicates with overseas links".

Third, the assertion that the AFP has not been able to use its
allocation is untrue. The first three strike teams funded last year
are up and running and the second three are due to commence training
next week.

Fourth, you imply that adopting a tough approach to law enforcement is
at the expense of a more understanding approach. This is not true. The
Tough On Drugs strategy is a three-pronged attack: law enforcement to
reduce the supply of illicit drugs; education to ensure that young
people understand the dangers of drugs; and harm minimisation measures
to help victims of the drug trade.

The measures adopted by the Government to tackle the drug problem
deserve bipartisan support. Senator Bolkus has done the community a

Senator AMANDA VANSTONE Minister for Justice

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Checked-by: Patrick Henry