Pubdate: Thu, 05 Aug 1999
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 1999 David Syme & Co Ltd
Author: John Kowarsky


The recent loss of 12 young Australian lives in the Swiss canyoning
incident is tragic and our hearts must go out to the bereaved families and

Meanwhile, back in Australia, "thrillseekers" of another sort are dying on
a daily basis.

In Victoria alone there have been about 170 deaths from drug overdoses this
year. These deaths too are tragic.

The difference here is that some responsibility must rest with successive
Commonwealth and state governments that have clearly failed to control or
contain the problem.

Apparently the best our Prime Minister can come up with is that he is
worried about "sending out the wrong signal" (with regard to the aborted
ACT heroin trial), and that he does not think we should go down the track
of setting up "shooting galleries".

For starters, Mr John Howard, Mr Kim Beazley and Sir William Dean, all of
whom have proffered sympathy for the Swiss tragedy, should be contacting
bereaved families and friends of the latter group of Australians to express
condolences. Perhaps, just perhaps, by speaking personally to mothers and
fathers who have lost a child in this way, Mr Howard will come to realise
that the drug problem is a medical and social issue that cannot be
effectively tackled by espousing a high-sounding ideology while ignoring
simple strategies for minimising harm to those caught within the complex
web of drug dependence.

South Yarra
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