Drug policy reform
Prior to becoming Foreign Minister, I participated in a roundtable discussion on drug policy reform organised by think tank Australia21. I talked about my stance with Richard Glover on 702 ABC yesterday. Click here to listen to our discussion.
First, let me say that I don’t believe in legalisation. I have no idea how it would work. The drugs black market would continue to operate. My argument is primarily about the best use of police resources. During my time as NSW Premier, I saw police effort going into personal use of ecstasy and marijuana and I wasn’t impressed by it. The mobilisation of police resources to hit nightclubs and pubs didn’t strike me as the most effective use of police time. On the other hand, I wanted them to hit the suppliers and close down the labs.
I suppose this argument leads to a de facto decriminalisation at one end of the spectrum. This position may be criticised as contradictory but ultimately there is nothing logical about illegal drugs.
In addition to effective and efficient use of police resources, my focus is also on keeping people alive with the ultimate goal of rehabilitation, as opposed to facilitating recreational use. I place emphasis on harm minimisation as opposed to wholesale legalisation and decriminalisation. Take, for example, the introduction of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre during my time as Premier. An independent evaluation of the Centre carried out by eminent doctors, professors and criminologists found that the more often a drug user went there, the more likely they were to undertake treatment.
Understand my position: I don’t apologise for going after the Mr Bigs. I don’t apologise for having a prohibition regime. But I think at this end of the scale, when it comes to personal use of ecstasy or marijuana, the best use of police time is not standing outside a nightclub or wandering around a train station with sniffer dogs. Those people aren’t doing any harm except, arguably, to themselves.