Page 1437 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 May 2015

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In addition to the work of ACT Policing, it is important to recognise the unique challenges for our paramedics. As we know, and as the health minister has articulated elsewhere, there are significant health problems associated with the use of this chemical. More frequently, paramedic contact is as a result of an acute behavioural disturbance. This makes the job of paramedics increasingly difficult, and it is of the utmost importance that our paramedics are supported in both their own health and wellbeing and through their clinical training and practice. The same applies to ACT Policing.

No-one in this place, and certainly no-one on this side of the chamber, is disputing the fact that drugs present a problem for our community and real challenges to our health system and law enforcement. As has been said here, we simply cannot arrest our way out of this. Indeed, I would say that you simply cannot punish your way out of this. I think we all have a role to play in being firm with offenders, in being supportive of those who need help. I would say that here we need to be responsive and helpful to those who have put this misuse behind them.

It is for this very reason that the matter is on the COAG table and is receiving the national response from government that it requires. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the important work that those in our emergency services and police force do. I commend the motion and the amendments to the Assembly.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (4.59): The use of crystal methamphetamine is having a significant impact in the ACT and across Australia. In the ACT the data suggests an increase in methamphetamine use. 2.2 per cent of people surveyed in 2013 reported use of methamphetamine for non-medical purposes, defined as use within the previous 12 months, compared to 1.1 per cent of people surveyed in 2010. The caveat on that data is that, as always, we need to be careful in interpreting changes in datasets that involve small sample sizes.

We also know that across the country we are seeing changes in the preferred form of methamphetamine being used, the purity of the drug and the frequency of use. There has been an increase in the number of Australians nominating crystal methamphetamine, or ice, as their preferred form of methamphetamine, from 26.7 per cent in 2007 and 21 per cent in 2010 to 50.4 per cent in 2013. So while there has not been any widespread increase in methamphetamine use across Australia, the type of methamphetamine that is preferred by users has changed.

A recent study, in 2014, showed that the purity of ice in Australia has also increased from an annual average of 21 per cent in 2009 to 64 per cent in 2013. At the same time, the purity of the traditionally lower grade powder has also increased, from 12 per cent to 37 per cent. Not only that but the purity adjusted price of both crystal and powder methamphetamine has decreased. They are now very similar in price.

Added to the change in the preferred form and purity of the drug, there has also been an increase in the frequency of its use, with an increase in the proportion of people using it daily or weekly, from 9.3 per cent to 15.5 per cent. Crystal methamphetamine users were much more likely to use ice on a regular basis, with one-quarter using it at least weekly, compared to 2.2 per cent of those who preferred powder.

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