Ministerial Statement 16 May 2002
Toyne, Peter Howard
Australian Labor Party
Media Releases for 09th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Media Releases; ParliamentNT
Made available by via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).
Northern Territory Government
Issued as a Media Release
Northern Territory Government
concern on Aboriginal communities. There has also been an increase in cannabis users presenting with mental health and behavioural problems. There is evidence that the level of the active component in cannabis, THC, is increasing and hydroponically grown cannabis is becoming more readily available around Australia. It is being grown in the Territory and also transported from South Australia, where intelligence suggests that organised crime groups operating there are responsible for production and distribution. If we dont want the Territory to become a haven for drug dealers and manufacturers, it is clear it is now time to take the drug problem in the Northern Territory seriously. This Governments Tough on Drugs policy does exactly that. The Opposition, when in government, failed Territorians by refusing to acknowledge the extent of the drug problem in the Northern Territory. In August 2000 the then Chief Minister Denis Burke, when asked what he was going to do to combat the increase in drug related crime, said: There is drug related crime in the Northern Territory, there is no doubt about that, but compared to other jurisdictions it is miniscule. That head in the sand approach did not work and it is clear we have an increasing drug problem in the Northern Territory. We also must not forget the research which shows the very strong link between property crime and drug use. It is estimated that around fifty percent of all property crime is directly related to the use of illicit drugs in the community. Just this week, the Supreme Court sentenced a man who pleaded guilty to eight offences relating to two house break-ins, a business break-in, and several counts of pawning stolen property. The Court found that the "offences were committed to obtain money to feed your morphine habit". There is also some evidence that drug dealers in the Northern Territory directly supply drugs in exchange for stolen property. A more telling example of the link between drug use and house break-ins could not be found. We also heard this week of a man robbing a Darwin chemist at knifepoint to steal morphine. The NT Police have estimated the morphine that was stolen in that robbery could fetch more than $65,000 on the black market. It is clear that the illicit drug problem in the Northern Territory is not minuscule at all far from it. While in opposition, my colleagues and I constantly brought information before this house on the link between illicit drug use and property and other crime. This Government is determined break the drug-crime cycle with solutions that will work. Under our Three Point Plan to Get Tough on Drugs, we committed to a strong law enforcement strategy of zero tolerance on drug production and distribution. We said we would properly resource our police to operate on the front line to get those involved in the illicit drug trade behind bars. Under our plan, we committed to: Cracking down on drug traffickers, dealers and manufacturers, Doubling the resources of the Drug Squad from 20 to 40 officers, Giving police targeted powers to attack drug trafficking and dealing, and Recovering the profits from drug traffickers through confiscation legislation. In the November Mini Budget, we announced funding to implement our promise to double the number of police officers in the Drug Squad. Those 20 extra officers are part of the Governments commitment for 50 extra police officers over its first term. The NT Police Drug Squad will lead the fight against the illicit drug trade. It is important they have the resources they need to operate effectively on the coal face of law
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