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An Independent Queensland Regional & Rural 

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(Cairns... Far North Queensland)


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I appreciate your interest in the issues that effect not only Queenslanders, but all Australians.

Please let me hear from you about your views on the issues that matter to your Family, your Community and your State.


Selwyn Johnston



One person, with the support of the community, can make a difference



During the last week or two there have been at least two (2) drug related incidents, given wide publicity in the media, which quite frankly should worry the hell out of all responsible parents. 

The media, to its credit, should be congratulated on the way they have handled the matters and the concerns expressed generally by their audience is a fair representation of public feeling on the matter. 

Referred to here are firstly the Ben Cousins affair in Perth and secondly the infinitely more worrying incident in Sydney where a little girl took a couple of "lollies" to her primary school to share them with a couple of friends. The "lollies" turned out to be illicit and dangerous drugs with the result that the whole group of juveniles were rushed off to hospital, for urgent medical treatment. 

The Ben Cousins affair is still before the Courts so what will be said here relates to what happened before the last tragic event resulting in the Court action, which of course has yet to be dealt with. Cousins is a person of exceptional skill and popularity. He is a great athlete, is a great tactician on the football field and obviously has a good brain and is a lateral thinker. While his abilities became apparent on the football field he probably could have chosen a dozen other fields in which to use his talents but football was his choice. His life and career is regrettably now in tatters, disgraced totally and the likelihood of his ever regaining his former respect is practically none. 

Andrew Johns of NRL fame is another case where a sterling career hit the wall and what could have been a glorious post career life after excellence, turned out to be both a shaming event and an embarrassment to everyone associated with him. 

All this, more likely than not, came about because at some stage of these peoples lives they either sought out illicit drugs or were offered them by someone who had access to them and that person could well have been a user or dealer. In turn, this person would have been supplied with the drugs by someone else, who could well have not been a user but simply a "dealer for profit" and no doubt there was an importer or manufacturer supplying him. 

In the case of the primary school children in Sydney, one can only worry about the total lack of responsibility of the parents of the young girl and seriously question their right to be custodial parents. What is more worrying is that these were just the high profile cases that have come to notice in the last few days. Everyday it is happening in a street or house somewhere near you and causing what is simply the destruction of young and not so young lives for the sole purpose of greed and profit of the ultimate dealer. 

So while we are all aware of the plight of the victim of drugs it's our police who are left with the impossible task of dealing with the results of the trade on the streets on a daily basis. It's about time the community stood up and took a bit of responsibility themselves. Not all the problems are the result of illicit drugs by a long way and the irresponsible use of alcohol also comes at an enormous cost. But by itself this could probably be contained. After all, total prohibition of alcohol is a proven failure but its use potentially can be controlled though made infinitely more difficult if used in conjunction with other drugs. 

The people that the community should be hunting down are the users and dealers, dealers and more importantly manufacturers and importers of illicit drugs. There may or may not be a "Mr Big" but any number of large manufacturers and dealers must be there for the taking. 

It is one of those situations where "zero tolerance" does have some real meaning and to reinforce the situation there needs to be an elite, totally incorruptible group of people, substantially made up of dedicated and experienced police officers, to track down the sources be they manufactures or importers. This untouchable force must have the ability to act, always within the law, but totally free of external (political) influence through to the very end. The Courts only must oversee this elite force, which in itself would be sufficient control. 

A good start was made in this regard many years ago with the Costigan Inquiry but a change in Government saw a change in emphasis and the work was never completed. It's well overdue for a similar inquiry to be initiated staffed by equally determined people with the mandate to finish the job, without fear or favour. 

To support the proposed elite group of people charged with the rooting out of these drug vultures there should be a separate prison system set up specifically to handle those convicted. They should in no way be admitted to the normal prison system, where they just widen their influence, and have none of the rights and privileges granted to inmates convicted of the usual Code and other Statutory offences. 

Rehabilitation should not be an option; it should be imprisonment as punishment and for substantial periods of time. It has to be the ultimate deterrent without the benefit of parole. The accommodation would not be 3 or 4 star with a doctor in attendance on a regular basis. Something like Guantanamo Bay… without the frills! 

Until we do something like this there is absolutely no chance of even getting close to solving the illicit drug problem. As it is now we are simply consuming the time of over-worked regular police officers in what is an unpleasant and often dangerous activity, to say nothing of the personal tragedy that someone in the community suffers every day. 

The plight of the end user is well recognised and deserves some compassion, particularly on the first offence but until we stop the flow of drugs from the top down we are just going to continue to expand the user base and the problem will never be solved. 

We need this type of solution simply because the professionals have had two or three decades to fix the problem, a task at which they have totally failed. The results of their efforts have resulted only in a greater number of professionals trying to solve the problem without any real reduction in the level of the problem itself. 

So let's give the harder way a go. It won't be an immediate fix as there will still initially be the income to attract new players but I bet the rate of re-offending will go down and as with anything else inexperience counts so the newcomers will not be a difficult to catch. 

If you think this is hard just think of the thousands of sufferers that are doing it tough, stealing and doing things worse just to feed the habit. Think also of the wasted lives, and the parents of those people who have seen what was a promising young life destroyed before their eyes, and beyond their help. 

No solution is going to be easy but if the pain must fall let it fall where it is due, and that's a good start.




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Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870