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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Liberals on Drugs -

Liberals on Drugs - David Llewellyn, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Deputy Premier David Llewellyn said yesterday?s statement by Brett Whiteley shows the Liberal Party is prepared to put Tasmanian lives at risk in the pursuit of a cheap headline.

?The attack by Mr Whiteley on the Needle Availability Program is quite extraordinary and calls into question the Liberal Party?s commitment to this life-saving program.

?The Director of Public Health warned as recently as August that dragging the Needle Availability Program into the public debate about drug usage could put at risk one of Australia?s greatest public health successes.

?Dr Taylor made a number of points:

� The NAP is absolutely critical to limit the spread of blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis C and HIV;

� The Program has been so successful that Australia has among the lowest incidence of these diseases anywhere in the world;

� We need to keep the Program going for the sake of every Australian;

� There were many reasons for needle numbers fluctuating, including the timing of bulk order payments at either the start or the end of the year;

� The Program had never been presented as an indicator of drug use and the way it worked made it a very poor indicator;

� The aim of the Program is to ensure drug users do not share needles or other equipment and pass on infections to other users and the broader community;

� The sharing of needles and syringes has declined by three quarters since the mid-1990s;

� However, that means more needle usage for the same number of users ? in other words, higher needle numbers is a sign of success rather than a problem; and

� Any restriction in availability - which led to an increase in needle sharing would be an absolute disaster.

?Dr Taylor asked that the Needle Availability Program not be used as a weapon in the political debate about drugs.

?Mr Whiteley has chosen to ignore that request and in doing so has called into question the Liberal Party?s commitment to the Program.

?Mr Hidding needs to spell out whether this vital public health initiative will be safe from the Liberals, who vandalised the health system last time they were in Government.?

?Mr Whiteley has also conveniently forgot about Road side Drug testing, the 2005 ? 09 Drug Strategy and the further strengthening of the misuse of Drugs Act.

?In the 2004/05 Financial Year - 496 serious drug offenders were also charged by Tasmanian Police.

?If it wasn?t so serious an issue, you would nearly have to think it was April Fools day not Christmas for this incompetent Grandstander,? Mr Llewellyn said.

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