Territory Stories

Ministerial Statement 16 May 2002



Ministerial Statement 16 May 2002


Toyne, Peter Howard

Political affiliation

Australian Labor Party


Media Releases for 09th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Media Releases; ParliamentNT




Made available by via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).



Publisher name

Northern Territory Government

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Issued as a Media Release

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government

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children and young people from seeing drug use as an attractive option. Trafficking in drugs is a serious criminal offence and causes serious harm to our community. Drug dealers prey on our kids and on other vulnerable people. It is disturbing, but there is clear evidence that drug manufacture and distribution is carried out by organised bikie gangs and organised crime around Australia and in the Northern Territory. We need to know some facts about the state of illicit drug use and drug crime in our community today. We know there is an opiate problem in the Northern Territory. Figures from the Health Insurance Commission show that in 1999 the prescription of morphine in the NT was almost 15 times higher than the national average. Because of intervention by the Health Insurance Commission (not I note by the now Opposition) that alarming statistic dropped, but still only back to 7 times the national average. Research shows that indigenous people are emerging as users of morphine and opiates, that more people are using opiates, especially younger people, and they are using more of the drug. But the report of Northern Territory Drug Trends 2001 shows not only increasing use of morphine but also amphetamines. This is confirmed by the 2000-01 Australian Illicit Drug Report which says the use of amphetamines in Australia has been increasing in the last few years which it describes as "probably the most concerning trend in the illicit drug environment". This trend should be of concern to all of us. Amphetamine is a potent drug that can be swallowed, mixed with drinks, ingested nasally or injected. The effects of long term or binge use include aggressive, irrational and unpredictable behavior, often described as psychotic. As the Australian Illicit Drug Report finds, the use of amphetamines presents a threat both to our community and to law enforcement. In the NT, research shows injecting is the most common way of using amphetamines and there is evidence that young people and indigenous people are increasingly becoming users. In fact, it is likely that new injecting drug users will use amphetamines as the first drug they inject. Research shows that amphetamines are either "very easy" or "easy" to obtain in the Northern Territory. The increasing availability of amphetamines can be seen in the arrest rates for amphetamine use or supply which have increased from 26 in 1997-98, to 124 in 1999-2000, and 160 in 2000-01. Amphetamines are manufactured in clandestine labs, commonly called "clan labs", from common chemicals like pseudoephedrine available in over the counter medicine such as Sudafed. Those chemicals are known as precursors. The Illicit Drugs Report says that: A coordinated group of criminals can purchase or steal large quantities of pseudoephedrine based medication and manufacture amphetamines in a very short time, often less than 24 hours. Outlaw bikie gangs and other organised criminal groups are involved in the manufacture and distribution of amphetamines in the NT. These groups are targeted by the Polices Drug and Intelligence Division. However, they are difficult to investigate, surveillance conscious, and are prepared to resort to violence and intimidation to prevent witnesses and informers speaking to police. The findings of the 2000-01 Australian Illicit Drug Report on cannabis are alarming. The report says that the cultivation and distribution of cannabis is big business and cannabis is often transported several thousand kilometres from cultivation to final sale. There appears to be little doubt that the sale and consumption of cannabis makes a significant contribution to the profits of organised crime in Australia. Again, outlaw motor cycle gangs are prominent among the organised crime groups involved in the large scale production and distribution of cannabis. In the NT, we know that use of cannabis and other drug use, or poly-drug use, is common. More young people are smoking cannabis and cannabis use is causing