Pubdate: Thu, 15 Apr 1999
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Author: Linda Doherty


Drug workers have accused the Premier of making comments that are
inflammatory and lacking in compassion, one month before the much
heralded Drug Summit.

Mr Carr said in Newcastle on Tuesday that heroin was a problem because
people were silly enough to inject it.

He stressed that heroin addiction was a question of individual
responsibility and the public should not expect the Drug Summit to be
a panacea for a complex problem.

"My message to the community is don't expect the Government, or the
police or the health workers ... to solve this problem for you," he

"This problem begins when people are silly enough to pick up a needle
and inject an addictive poison into their veins."

The founder of Family Drug Support, Mr Tony Trimingham, said the Drug
Summit needed to take a pragmatic and compassionate approach, and Mr
Carr's comments were inflammatory and stereotypical.

"I agree it is a personal responsibility to inject, but the
consequences of that irresponsibility is often death," he said.

"We don't even condemn murderers to death."

Mr Trimingham, whose 23-year-old son Damien died in 1997 from a heroin
overdose, is expected to be among 60 drug experts, addicts, family
members and community leaders to address State Parliament during the
five-day Drug Summit from May 17.

The Premier's Office is finalising the speakers' list, but so far the
only person officially invited is the former rock singer Mr Normie
Rowe, who went public recently about his daughter's drug problem.

Mr Wesley Noffs, the chief executive of the Ted Noffs Foundation,
which treats adolescents with drug problems, said Mr Carr's "black and
white, simplistic" remarks failed to recognise that many drug-addicted
teenagers had been physically, sexually and psychologically abused.

"The Drug Summit is meant to be about informing MPs, but with these
simplistic arguments why the hell is anyone putting money into it?"

Drug law reform is a key area where Mr Carr is being pressured to
introduce social reforms.

The secretary of the NSW Labor Council, Mr Michael Costa, has called
on the Government to conduct a social audit to reallocate services
such as health, education and transport to disadvantaged areas such as
outer western Sydney and regional NSW. 
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