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Labor Back Liberals in the Failed ‘War on Drugs’

Media Release - Tuesday, 29 October 2019


Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson

The Liberals’ ban on the sale of ice pipes passed through the House of Assembly this afternoon with the support of the Labor Party. The passage of this legislation effectively undermines Australia’s decades-long, harm reduction drug policies.

While other countries are positively combatting ice addiction through a focus on health, the Liberal and Labor parties have supported legislation that will increase the risk of ice addiction and infectious disease transmission.

Health-focused drug policies are the benchmarks for success in countries around the world that are turning back the tide of drug addiction and the related harms and crime.

Banning the sale of ice pipes won't prevent people becoming addicted, but it will mean addicted people are more likely to share pipes or inject the drug with a needle.

The purchase of ice pipes does not lead to addiction – addiction leads to the purchase of ice pipes.

This is another failed drug policy Labor and the Liberals now share. After backtracking on pill testing at festivals and decriminalising the personal use of drugs, it’s clear the Tasmanian Labor Party has now abandoned decades of harm minimisation drug policy completely.

Sharing pipes increases the chance of passing on an infectious disease, and someone who injects any drug – including ice – is far more likely to get addicted, to die of an overdose, or pass on infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C to others. Injecting becomes more likely if a person cannot access a pipe.

It is the nature of infectious diseases to spread beyond the drug user into the wider community. We need health policies that help protect the whole community, just like vaccinations, instead of a law that will force already addicted people to take up risky practices.

While paying lip service to the benefits of treating drug use through a health focus, Labor has backed the Liberals’ ideological war on drugs one hundred percent.

The losers in Labor and the Liberals’ ice pipe ban are people struggling with dependency. Those people should be getting access to funded services to help them cope with overwhelming trauma, and drug rehabilitation rather than populist judgement.