FORMER police chiefs and former premiers have come together to call for a new approach to illicit drug use that they say is not about “going soft”, but being “smart”.
They have put their names to a new report that says it’s time to drop criminal charges for personal use and possession and instead treat drug use as a health and social issue.
The “badly-broken, ineffective” approach that’s currently in place is not going to deliver any better results to communities, former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer says.
He and three other former top police officers, along with two former heads of Corrective Services, a former Supreme Court Judge and a former Director of Public Prosecutions have put their name to a report that calls for decriminalisation.
The report, ‘Can Australia respond to drugs more effectively and safely?’, was launched on Monday by beyondblue founder and former premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett and former NSW premier Bob Carr.
The report of think tank Australia 21 came out of a roundtable convened by Mr Palmer, who acknowledged to the Daily Liberal he had “changed his position dramatically over the years”.
“What we now have is badly broken, ineffective and even counterproductive to the harm minimisation aims of Australia’s national illicit drugs policy,” he said.
Mr Palmer said criminal behaviour ought to be dealt with by the police as a criminal offence but Australia needed to find a way to treat drug use at the same time.
“This is not about, and I think it’s important to stress, this is not about going soft on drugs, but rather, about being smart about drugs,” he said.