I have a lot of friends and colleagues who ride motorcycles. Most of them are passionate about their bikes and riding. It’s not just a means of transport and many of them would only ride their bikes on weekends. During the week they are ferrying children to school or sitting in traffic on the Westgate Bridge in an ordinary car like the rest of us. There are of course riders who use their bike for their main source of transport and a fast growing number of scooter riders whose scooter is their main mode of transport.
I tried to learn how to ride a motorbike many years ago and quickly discovered it was not for me, although I do still enjoy being a pillion passenger and going fast. In reading about the new draconian regulations the Victorian government is proposing (http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/rsc/inquiries/article/1406) I have found myself passionate about motorbike riding and the rights and freedoms of motorbike riders.
From my experience and from my reading of some of the submissions that the government inquiry received, motorcycle riders (especially the enthusiasts) are very autonomous and value personal freedom and freedom of choice more than most. This makes them my type of people. It also means that heavy-handed regulation is not going to work. And one has to wonder how far should governments go in trying to "reduce risk". Motorbike riding is not the only sport where risk is part of the attraction to the pastime. Off the top of my head rock-climbing, skiing, scuba diving, mountain bike riding, surfing and skydiving all have a certain level of risk and that (along with developing the skills to counter that risk) for many, this is a big part of the attraction.
In cities like Melbourne push and motor bike riding should be encouraged. More bike riders reduces congestion, parking pressure, fuel consumption and pollution. It is not surprising that the government proposals reek of ‘nannyism’. This is a government that tried to ban swearing in night clubs so it is no surprise that their proposals are draconian and out of step.
Before we look at the proposals lets look at the figures, which is not something that the government appears to have done. There has been a rapid rise in the number of bikes registered and not surprisingly that has led to a slight rise in fatalities but when you look at the fatality rate, that is, how many fatalities per number of motorcycles, the rate has declined by 31.6% over 10 years to 2009. There has been a 32.6% decline in car fatalities in that same period. (Thanks to Rex Deighton Smith who compiled these figures from "road deaths Australia”, the motor vehicle census and the ABS link to Rex's submission) Generally it is acknowledged by experts that there has been a strong improvement in road safety performance across Australia.
These are actually pretty startling figures. There has been a lot of new inexperienced riders hitting the roads, there have been no airbag type safety developments for bikes and the number of kilometres travelled by riders has increased due to the increase of commuter riders. But less and less riders are having fatal accidents.
With the facts at hand why is the government proposing heavy-handed regulation that seems to have the objective of reducing motorcycle use? I wonder if it is a discriminatory perception of bike riders? I think so. I also think it is just another heavy handed law and order policy that is not based on evidence and further erodes our rights and independence.
Enthusiasts own many if not most registered motorbikes. They understand the risks they take and most importantly there is no evidence that there is a problem.
One government proposal is to insist that fluoro clothing be compulsory for riders. There is nothing wrong with protective clothing. Leather (which I like since a ‘biker-boyfriend’ in my teens introduced me to it) and the new Kevlar jeans (I must have some of these!) is safe and frankly pretty sexy. Fluro is not - with the possible exception of fans of Olivia Newton-John’s hit from the 80s, Lets Get Physical. There is also not a scrap of evidence to suggest that there are any safety benefits in wearing flouro clothing.
The government is proposing ‘supervised training’ for new riders which will cost up to $6,000 to complete. This is despite the fact that the longer a rider has a license the less likely they are to have an accident.
We recommend that government provide incentives for riders to take on extra training by providing registration or third party discounts to riders who have completed. Encourage rider training but keep it affordable and possible.
The government has added special levies on the registration of motorbikes that are frankly quite outrageous and totally illogical. I laughed out loud at one of the uses of this levy and smacked the table at the other.
The first use of the levy is called "enhanced information". This involves putting up signs informing motorcyclists that they are entering a "motorcycle high risk area". The only thing that could be said about these signs is that they publicise roads that may be of interest to motorcycle enthusiasts.
The second use of the levy is enforcement and is absolutely discriminatory towards riders. Basically the levy pays to fund enforcement in motorcycle black spots. The motorcyclist is taxed so that they can be fined. Imagine if car owners were faced with an extra levy to fund more speed cameras?
This levy needs to be repealed or at the least redirected towards education of riders and motorists.
I know that it annoys motorists when they seeing motorcyclists filter through stationary traffic but we need to clarify that this is legal and positive for a smoother flow of traffic. It works in every other large metropolis around the world and can and should work here.
Scooters need specifically targeted education especially around protective clothing. The scooter riders I see buzzing around the electorate are mostly in Italian suits and stilettos! Hazard awareness and rider training are also important here but without the nannyism.
• Limited and discounted recreational registration for motorcyclists similar to the vintage car restricted registration
• Provide for advanced training via registration and insurance discounts
Over the past few weeks I must have done a dozen interviews on the phenonemon that is 50 Shades of Grey. I'll admit I have not read it and I doubt I ever will. I'd like to say that I will wait for the movie. But if a film that accurately depicted the book was made, it would be banned in Australia. You see the Australian government bans all depictions of bondage. The classifications guidelines state that:
Fetishes such as body piercing, application of substances such as candle wax, ‘golden showers’, bondage, spanking or fisting are not permitted.
So if someone does make a film of 50 Shades of Grey, which they undoubtably will, it will have to be a sanitised sex-free Hollywood version for Australia.
As far as the more general term 'shades of grey' is concerned, it's a phrase that current policy-makers don't seem to be able to come to terms with. Whether it's planning, censorship, drug use or sexuality the current 'black and white' style of decision-making no longer works. Even dying is no longer a 'black and white' affair. So many Australian laws and political policies do not meet the way the world is in the 21st century. Purists from both sides of politics still haven't realised that there are no issues these days that are black and white.
Portugal has recognised this reality in its drug policy. They have decriminalised the personal possession and use of all drugs. That doesn't mean that they condone drug use but they recognise that treating it as a crime does not work. They also look at drug use on a case by case basis. When someone is found using or possessing a small amount of drugs they are assessed as to whether their drug use is a problem that the person needs help with or a symptom of some other part of their life that they need help with. Or just something that the person does from time to time because they enjoy it.
Censorship laws are incredibly subjective and when governments try to make 'black and white' rules around content, ridiculous decisions are made. For example, sexually explicit adult films that are imported or sold in Australia are subject to a 'black and white' prohibition on violence. Not just sexual violence but no violence at all. So now we have the stupid situation where hundreds of high production films that are produced in the US and around the world have to be severely edited prior to being imported or sold in Australia. One famous example is a film called Pirates. It was a very high production sex spoof of Pirates of the Carribean. It featured similar CGI (computer generatd images) scenes of skeleton ghosts fighting. They weren't raping anyone, they were just cartoon skeletons having a sword fight. These scenes had to be removed from the X 18+ version of the film before it could be legally sold in or even imported into Australia. Obviously these hard and fast rules seem quaint in the internet age. But any form of regulation cannot be black and white it must be nuanced, shaded.
Sexuality is a broad spectrum that labels like straight, hetero or even GLBTIQ do not accurately describe. There are more than '50 Shades of Grey' on this spectrum but many legislators only recognise one in their bigoted and myopic approach to morality laws.
Dying is another part of life that has many shades. Of course many people die a natural death which just comes when their time is up but many have a much more complicated affair with an option to go before their body gives up. Politicians who are not and have never been in that position, legislate to say that the only option these people can have is to hold on through trauma, pain and terrible suffering. Two shades only. Natural death or death preceded by pain and suffering.
Hard and fast, black and white rules regarding planning often don't work especially when it comes to business. We need to encourage diversity and often that means a case by case approach. Small businesses in residential zones, late night venues, etc etc.
But back to the book 50 Shades of Grey. Its impact on the regular adult industry has been pretty astounding. XBIZ, the US adult industry bible, reports that retail businesses have seen a 29% increase in trade which they attribute directly to the book. Apparently sales of crops, handcuffs and blindfolds have increased substantially. Anecdotally, I am hearing many cases of men being quite amazed when their partners ask to bring the 50 Shades of Grey into their own sex lives. I'd say there is a market out there for "50 Shades of Grey for Dummies".
While it may not be in the same literary class as Delta of Venus or Lolita, if it gets people reading erotica again, it is a very good thing.
You’re more than likely aware that for forty years the focus of the abortion debate in Victoria has been on your door step. The Fertility Control Clinic on Wellington Parade, East Melbourne has provided its services to women since 1972.
For much of those forty years religious protesters have been present at the entrance to the clinic. These protesters have at times intimidated people attending the clinic, verbally and physically.
“I was in no position to defend myself from such a cowardly attack at a vulnerable time in my life.” Submission by a former patient to the Law Reform Commission.
Sadly one individual went as far as to attack the clinic, murdering a security guard, before he was disarmed.
The Australian Sex Party supports Freedom of Religion and Free Speech; however we don’t believe these freedoms extend to intimidation and harassment. Anyone attending the clinic, and those who work in the clinic, should be able to enter free from intimidation. Anyone walking past the clinic should be able to do so free of harassment.
You may have seen Australian Sex Party members attending the monthly clinic defence at the clinic. Their presence, along with individuals from other groups, keeps a large anti-choice gathering on the other side of the road well away from the entrance for one day a month. Unfortunately for every other day of the month anti-choice protesters are free to intimidate those entering the clinic.
As such we support the policy of a buffer zone from the entrance to the facility, so that anyone can enter the clinic, or walk past it, free from intimidation.
We would be more than happy to forgo the clinic defence if we could be sure that patients and their families are able to access the clinic unimpeded. That would require enforcement by Council or Police officers; otherwise a buffer zone would be meaningless.
Freedom of Religion and Free Speech would not be threatened by the creation of a buffer zones as they can be exercised freely elsewhere, and your beautiful suburb will be all the more peaceful for it.
Sincerely, The Australian Sex Party
Religious protesters outside the East Melbourne Fertility Control Clinic
Did you join us on our Docklands pub crawl? It was a fantastic night and a good time was had by all.
Starting at Platform 28 and then going on to other venues we campaigned (and drank) our way through Docklands. Thanks to everyone who joined Fiona and the Sex Party team on this fun part of the Melbourne campaign trail. Keep an eye on our facebook page for more upcoming events.
Two years ago LA Zombie, an award winning film by the critically acclaimed director Bruce La Bruce was prohibited from being shown at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival. It was internationally embarrassing and the sad thing is that the former Victorian Attorney General Rob Hulls could have intervened and allowed this film to be shown but he didn't.
There is no doubt that the current conservative Attorney General, Robert Clark, will not be defending any free speech notions any time soon. I once tried to give him an X rated film, Debbie Does Dallas number 5 but he almost fainted when I pulled it out of the paper bag in the parliament house Member's Dining Room. I quickly put it back in the bag and handed it to him. He shook his head and waived his hands until I put it back in my bag!
Victorian politicians rarely, if ever, defend or even comment on free speech and LA Zombie was a good example. This film has screened in hundreds of countries and won a string of festival awards. The proposed Melbourne screening was to an adults only audience at a film festival, yet the Australian Classification Board felt that without even viewing it, it was too sexually explicit for the sensitive tastes of the Melbourne adult film festival goers. Not a single politician spoke out about this, not Labor, not Liberal, not even the Greens.
Nothing has changed in the Victorian Parliament. There still isn't a single, solitary voice speaking out for civil liberties and free speech. And this has resulted in some ridiculous regulations such as the recent ban on swearing in nightclubs.
I met the star actor of LA Zombie, François Sagat, at an adult film convention a little while ago. He is a great guy and was quite bemused and confused as to how all of his explicit sex films are available in Australia yet the very serious allegorical film, LA Zombie, was banned.
The only good outcome from the decision was that Francois became a fan of the Sex Party:
photos of day 3 and 4 in gallery or will be soon Yesterday after actually cooking some healthy food I headed off to listen to Catherine Deveny and Stella Young in conversation. It was riveting. What Sunday afternoon fireside chat would not include, vaginas, knitting, safe injecting rooms and of course dwarf porn. It was a very cosy and lively conversation as would be expected by such "agressively friendly" (their words) people such as Cath and Stella.
There was an interesting twist in the conversation that has stayed in my thoughts today. Dying with Dignity versus living with dignity. Stella commented that she was very ambivalent to euthanasia while Cath is an ambassador for Dying with Dignity Victoria. I don't want to verbal either one of them but this is how I heard the conversation. Stella was not as interested in a dying with dignity campaign until all people can live with dignity. She has a point. There are people with disabilities who think they are lucky because a carer comes three times a week to help them shower and go to the toilet! People with disabilities are still treated as generally asexual. The ability for people with disabilities to access social hubs is nearly impossible. Stella has almost had to forego stand up comedy because she does it sitting down and there are very very few venues with disabled access.
Stella also made the kind of frighteningly true comment that it would in all likelihood be easier for her to pass the dying with dignity test than an able-bodied person. That might not be the case in Oregon where they have had a legal system that has legally acknowledged dying with dignity for nearly 20 years. I have listed the basic parameters of the Oregon model below .
The Australian Sex Party advocates that :
Voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide for patients with a terminal illness and suffering severe pain to be decriminalised.
In addition to the patient’s primary medical practitioner a second and independent practitioner would be required to confirm his / her agreement with the diagnosis and prognosis.
Information about palliative care options must be given to the patient and having been given this information the patient must confirm to the primary medical practitioner that all other options are not acceptable and that he or she wants assistance.
A seven day cooling off period must then be allowed for before assistance can be provided.
But while I am a great believer in dying with dignity, my head has turned to living with dignity, living well and as an atheist (as is Stella) - living life to the fullest because it is all we've got.
Read more: Euthanasia - Oregon's Euthanasia Law - Person, Suicide, Drugs, and Federal - JRank Articles http://law.jrank.org/pages/6602/Euthanasia-Oregon-s-Euthanasia-Law.html#ixzz1ymOe4S9o
Oregon's Euthanasia Law
The person must be terminally ill. The person must have six months or less to live. The person must make two oral requests for assistance in dying. The person must make one written request for assistance in dying. The person must convince two physicians that he or she is sincere and not acting on a whim, and that the decision is voluntary. The person must not have been influenced by depression. The person must be informed of "the feasible alternatives," including, but not limited to, comfort care, hospice care, and pain control. The person must wait for 15 days.
Day 1 Well this first day of campaigning is not like my normal one. Rather than donning the yellow Sex Party T shirt, I'm wearing a lovely blue hospital gown and have just had my breasts squashed at St Vincents' Hospital. I am having follow up tests from a recent mammogram I had at the Rose Clinic in David Jones. I have a history of breast cancer in my family and they noticed something abnormal on my first mammogram. My Mum, her cousin and my great grandmother, all had breast cancer. But on a cold wet windy Melbourne day there are probably worse places to be than sitting in the warm breast-screening waiting rooms. All is fine as it is in over 90% of re tests.
If you're like me and have been putting this off why don't you join me and go and get yourself a mammogram. I must say the Rose clinics in David Jones in Melbourne and Sydney are very swish and worth a visit.
World’s first nude pictorial with the boss of a national political party!
The division over ‘wets’ and ‘dries’ has engaged political pundits for many years. In modern political history, a ‘wet’ was originally said to be anyone who opposed the fiscal policies of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. However the term was also used to describe those who opposed the prohibition of alcohol in the USA in the 1920s. By default, the prohibitionists were ‘dries’.
With the advent of the Australian Sex Party in 2010, there’s now a third definition. ‘Wets’ are political spunk rats. They’re the rare pretty face in the otherwise ugly business of governing the country. Fiona Patten, the President of the Sex Party is definitely a ‘wet’. Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott are ‘dries’. National Party members are parched and that Senator Ron Boswell is just a living ‘drought’!
Fiona Patten likes to get wet whenever she can. As a precocious 14-year-old teenager she was part of a US pre-Olympic swim team. In the 1997 Masters Games she cleaned up seven swimming medals. “I’ve always had an affinity with water”, she says. “If it gets me wet, I’m into it”.
Fiona formed the Sex Party in an effort to stop bastard wowsers from running the country. Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard all wanted to censor your internet and wag the finger over other moral issues. They all supported spending hundreds of millions of dollars on brain-dead chaplains in public schools and they all refused to let homos or lezos wear a wedding ring!
“With all the child sex abuse around in the churches these days, you’d think politicians would try and find non-religious counsellors to teach these courses”, she says. “Politicians should just stay out of people’s bedrooms and leave people to enjoy their sexuality as they want. Their job is to make sure that the garbageand the taxes are collected, that there’s a bed in the local hospital if you get sick and that we don’t all perish from a nuclear bomb. None of this has anything to do with our private morality”.
At the last federal election, the Sex Party came in fourth in the national Senate vote, when averaged out across all states. Not bad for a virgin political party – although there weren’t many virgins actually in the party.
Fiona missed out on winning a seat in the Victorian Parliament, at that last state election, by only 3,000 votes! How close was that? “We’ll give Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard a few things to think about at the next federal election” she says. “We’re a political party that’s just starting to get hard.”
The Sex Party wants politicians to stop interfering in women’s rights to have an abortion and also wants to see more wet spunks in the parliament. “Just look at the tired old suits that make up most parliaments”, she says. “They’re not representative of my group of friends and most people I know cannot relate to politicians as real people. We need more young people and we need more women”.
People also have to look behind the faces that they see on the TV. “Who would have thought Angry Anderson would join the pro-censorship prudes in the National Party? Who would have thought a rocker like Peter Garrett would have spent $250 million on getting chaplains into government schools? When you see a politician on TV or in the newspaper, remind yourself that 40% of them are highly religious and have been pre-selected with their moral views front and centre”.
Being a true wet, Fiona thinks the war on drugs is unwinnable and wants to decriminalise drugs for personal possession. “Most politicians are happy to knock back a few martinis or sip chardonnay at some toffy cocktail party but they are completely intolerant of someone smoking a joint or taking a little ecstasy. Australia now has 70% of its prison inmates incarcerated for drug offences. It’s completely mad. Australia is not going to fall apart if marihuana is legalised.”
Fiona is a big fan of Hustler’s publisher, Larry Flynt. “I met Larry at an adult industry awards night in the US a few years ago and he is one of the world’s greatest civil libertarians. His actions have upheld freedom of speech for many groups including feminists and even the rights of religious groups. He shows real guts in the face of ignorant judges and politicians, telling them to get stuffed to their faces. When you’re facing a 20 year jail sentence for upholding your rights to free speech, that takes a lot of courage.”
We’ll tick Fiona’s box whenever we see it – whether it’s on a ballot paper or on the pages of Hustler. And we want all Hustler readers to do the same.
Below is Dr Alex Wodak's AM, (President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and Director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney) response to the points made by Dutton.
Dr Wodak's comments are in bold.
Soft stance on drugs a dangerous catalyst Sydney Morning Herald Peter Dutton May 28, 2012 Opinion
As the opposition health spokesman, I am acutely aware of the harm caused by illicit drugs. As a former police officer, I contributed to this difficult fight in the real world. As a father I understand how dear children are to parents no matter their circumstances.
A recent report by the non-profit group Australia21 advocates decriminalisation with the strongly emotive title The Prohibition of Illicit Drugs Is Killing and Criminalising Our Children and We Are All Letting it Happen.
# [AW] The Australia21 report argued that our drug policy, heavily reliant on drug law enforcement, has failed abjectly and called for a debate about policy options. Contrary to Mr Dutton's comment here, the report did not advocate 'decriminalisation'.
I strongly oppose ending illicit drug prohibition because it would be a dreadful experiment with the future of our children, who are the very fabric of our nation. I contend that the decriminalisation of illicit drugs would be more likely to kill and criminalise children and we should not let it happen.
As my contrary words demonstrate, neither side has a monopoly on emotive language. Before addressing the substance of this debate, it is worthwhile considering the tone.
Many arguments in the Australia21 report unfortunately infer that supporters of decriminalisation are experienced, scientific and caring and that opponents supposedly mobilise fear, are callous to the human cost and beholden to the "drug law enforcement" industry.
I caution against automatically characterising participants in this debate as more informed, reasoned, caring or noble simply because of the position they take.
# [AW] The Australia21 report was accepted by the Board of the organisation which included a former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police. The report was largely based on a Roundtable discussion which included a former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, two former Commonwealth Ministers for Health, a former state Director of Public Prosecution, a former Chief Minister, a former state Premier, many of Australia's leading drugs researchers and clinicians, parents who had lost children to drugs and two young people. The report came to the same general conclusion as the 2011 report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy which included former Presidents of four countries, a former UN Secretary General, a former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve and a former US Secretary of State.
I would also caution on use of case studies from other nations as proof for the decriminalisation case. Given the significant economic, legal and cultural differences between Australia and nations with divergent drug policies, decriminalisation examples are often poor templates for a complex issue. Indigenous Bolivians chewing coca leaf are of little policy relevance to an Australian teenager injecting heroin.
# [AW] The Roundtable discussion which informed the report focussed on developments in Western Europe, North and Latin America. Indigenous people in Bolivia have chewed coca leaf for at least centuries and with minimal harmful effects. This was scarcely referred to in the Roundtable discussion and report.
Support for decriminalisation of illicit drugs relies on questionable assertions, including that law enforcement is ineffective, that drug harm is predominantly caused by criminal law and that decriminalisation would solve existing illicit drug problems without creating worse unintended consequences.
# [AW] The notion that drug law enforcement is relatively ineffective was supported at the launch of the report by Mr Mick Palmer, former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, who noted that police are better resourced than ever, better trained than ever, more effective than ever and have had minimal impact on the drug trade. 600 world leaders signed an open letter in 9 June 1998 in the New York Times arguing that the that 'the global war on drugs was causing more harm than drug abuse itself'. In 2005 Poland repealed Draconian drug laws which had been introduced in 2000. The (conservative) President who had introduced the new punitive policy in 2000, repealed these laws in 2005 and has recently joined the Global Commission on Drug Policy. The more liberal approach to drug policy in Switzerland and Portugal in the last 20 years has had many benefits and no serious adverse effects.
Law enforcement has not failed, it's just not 100 per cent of the answer. We need a pluralistic approach. Specific measures such as quarantining welfare payments and treatment programs can assist families to survive while battling addiction. More broadly economic growth is vital in addressing illicit drugs and many other social problems. Employment provides personal meaning and financial means to reduce the likelihood of social problems.
# [AW] Unfortunately there is extensive and growing evidence that Draconian approaches have few benefits and many serious adverse effects. The more punitive approach to cannabis offenders in WA was compared to the more liberal approach in SA in the 1990s. There was no difference in use of cannabis but the WA offenders were more likely to have suffered severe and unintended negative effects of the law.
Law enforcement does achieve significant results and is not yet at its peak of effectiveness. Enforcement can and does reduce supply. Reduction in supply not only reduces the availability but can also increase price, resulting in reduced consumption.
# [AW] Where is the evidence that 'law enforcement achieves significant results'? In Australia in 2011, 86% of drug users said that obtaining heroin was 'easy' or 'very easy' while 93% reported that obtaining hydroponic cannabis was 'easy' or 'very easy'. The assertion that law enforcement is not yet at the peak of its effectiveness is merely an expression of hope, not an argument. Where is the evidence that drug law enforcement achieves a sustained increase in the price of street drugs? The price of street heroin and cocaine decreased by more than 80% in the USA in the last 20 years.
Just as economic challenges require constant reform, law enforcement always has a new horizon. For example, proceeds of crime action. Seizing the assets of drug traffickers can still achieve more in making the drug trade uneconomic for organised crime. In addition to direct impact on supply, enforcement sends a clear message to our youth about the community's view of illicit drugs as dangerous and illegal.
# [AW] In recent decades, the world (including Australia) has used a harsh rhetoric about drugs and drug users, has generously funded drug law enforcement (while providing limited funding for health and social measures) yet the drug market has continued to expand. Drug production has increased. Drug consumption has increased. The number of new kinds of drugs has increased. Drugs are readily available. Drug prices have decreased. The purity of street drugs has increased. There is no evidence that different policies send different messages. If there has been any benefit from an approach heavily reliant on drug law enforcement, the beneficiaries have included criminals, corrupt police, outlaw motor cycle gangs and politicians running on a War on Drugs platform.
Drug harm is not caused by criminal law. Criminal sanctions facilitate treatment of users and protects the wider community from harm. Many states have cautioning programs that divert low-level drug offences from courts and compel individuals to attend counselling. The removal of the threat of criminal sanctions would make it near impossible to compel attendance for such purposes. With more serious or recidivist offenders, if the ability of the justice system to impose custodial sentences is removed there is little ability to force individuals to take responsibility. The impact of drug use then continues. The reality is that courts sentence drug users compassionately when they eventually appear.
# [AW] 50,000 Mexicans have been murdered since the Mexican President declared a War on Drugs in December 2006. How can these murders be considered to have been caused by anything other than Mexico's policy?
Illicit drugs are illegal because of their harmful chemical composition, not harmful because they are illegal. Drug induced or exacerbated mental problems destroy lives and impact our health system. Individuals under the influence of drugs will continue to commit crimes regardless of the source or regulation of the substance.
# [AW] When heroin is distributed through the black market it causes great damage to drug users, their families and the community. Australia had few if any problems resulting from heroin before the drug was prohibited in 1953. Trials of heroin assisted treatment (used prescribed heroin) in 6 countries have shown great benefit for drug users, their families and the community. Illicit drugs are mainly harmful because of their illegality, not their chemical composition.
At a time when the government is increasing the regulation against tobacco and alcohol it is difficult to understand support for a soft approach on illicit drugs. Decriminalisation would inevitably create unintended consequences and a minefield of new policy pitfalls. Complex problems frequently need a pluralistic approach. Pessimism and frustration should not be catalyst for dangerous social experiments such as decriminalisation. Incremental improvement on many fronts such as enforcement, economic growth and treatment will be far more likely to lead to progress.
# [AW] Half the people who use tobacco die from a tobacco related cause. The regulation of tobacco in Australia in the last 25 years has halved the proportion of Australians who smoke. Few if any public health practitioners would like to see tobacco prohibited. [ends]