Attorney-General should take the lead on drug reform
7th April, 2012
Attorney-General should take the lead on drug reform
The SA Council for Civil Liberties (SACCL) is calling on the Attorney-General, John Rau, to take the lead in discussion on drug law reform, following the release of The Australia 21 Report; “The Prohibition of Illicit Drugs is Killing and Criminalising our Children and we are all Letting it Happen” (see www.australia21.org.au).
SACCL Chairperson, Claire O’Connor, says that like the failed attempt at prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s drug prevention through prohibition is failing today. The SACCL points out that Australia 21 calls for urgent reform and the A21 report says, “The current approach to illicit drug use puts these drugs into the hands of criminals and exposes young people, police and politicians to their corruptive influence”.
SACCL says that large numbers of people are affected by the abuse of illicit drugs, whether it be our homes that are broken into to fund drug habits, our children dying from overdoses of drugs, or the victims of drug abuse filling our jails and hospitals. Clearly prohibition has not stopped the trade in drugs and its effects on our community. It is now time to discuss alternatives and the Report attempts to encourage law makers to do just that.
The SACCL encourages South Australia’s Attorney-General to not reject the Report out of hand, but to consider its recommendations.
The Global Commission On Drugs, reporting in 2011, advised that in the past ten years there has been a worldwide increase in the use illicit drugs. Opioid use has increased by 35%, cocaine by 27% and cannabis by 8.5%. After four decades of ‘the war on drugs’ which has seen many nations in the world increase penalties for the use, possession and sale of drugs, it is clear that these increases demonstrate a failure of the punitive approach. SACCL says that drug abuse is a health issue and should be dealt with accordingly.
The SACCL reminds the Attorney General that alcohol is in fact the drug with the greatest negative social impact yet there are limited controls on its sale and supply. This view too was contained in the Australia 21 Report whose signatories include many prominent Australians including former Health Ministers from both Federal and State parliaments.
“South Australia was once at the forefront of drug law reform. We can once again take the lead if we embark upon a rational discussion encouraged by this important document,” said Ms O’Connor.
Establishment of ICAC in SAReleased on 25 October 2011
The SACCL welcomes the Premier's decision to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption in South Australia. The Council has called on the South Australian Government for years now to establish such a commission in South Australia and was disappointed that the former Premier's model lacked the teeth such a commission needs to invesigate corruption, provide protection to whistle-blowers and to act as a deterrant to those who use their positionbs to secure financial and other advantages for themselves and others.
We thank the new Premier for embracing a model that has powers for a commission we have always sought.
We are hopeful that this new attitude to ensuring South Australia adopts the ideas of the SACCL continues and we look forward to the Premier announcing South Australia will have a Bill of Rights.
Press release: End of Life Arrangement BillReleased on 27 September 2011
The South Australian Council of Civil Liberties believes that those with a terminal illness, should have the right to terminate their lives at a time and in the circumstances of their choosing.
Whilst the proposed bill does not provide that right, it is a small step in the right direction.
It is well known that doctors, at the request of their patients and families, do aid patients in hastening the end of their lives. It would be regrettable if such an act of mercy were to become the basis of a prosecution of the doctor or nurse.
The Council does not consider that the bill enables a doctor or nurse to act in anything other than a responsible manner in assisting a person in hastening their death.
To qualify for the defence, a doctor would need to prove that their actions had been requested by their patient and that in all the circumstances, their actions were a reasonable response to the suffering of the person. Further, it can only occur in circumstances where the person’s illness, injury or medical condition, irreversibly impairs that persons quality of life to an extent that life has become intolerable.
The Council urges Members of Parliament to vote for this bill, but also to consider for the future, a bill that allows for the proper regulation for the voluntary euthanasia.
Spokesperson for the South Australian Council for Civil LibertiesDownload:George Mancini is interviewed by the Law Report
Will the Rann Government's 2010 proposed amendments streamline or damage the criminal trial process in SA?Claire O'Connor is interviewed by the 7:30 Report
Will tracking a parolee 24/7 with GPS technology encourage that parolee to abide by the law? SACCL's Claire O'Connor suggests that is not the issue, besides that proposal being a severe infringement of the parolee's civil liberties.