First lesson for new inquiry into ice: We've lost the war on drugs
The appointment of prohibitionist Kay Hull to lead an inquiry into ice use in Australia is another example of the Abbott government’s ham fisted approach to policy.17 Dec 2014
The Australian assistant minister for health Senator Fiona Nash announced the establishment of a “reshaped” alcohol and drug advisory council, the Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs (Anacad), with Kay Hull as the new chair.
It replaces the Australian National Council on Drugs, which reported to the prime minister, and will report to Nash - the minister responsible for drug and alcohol policy within the health ministry. Nash also announced that Anacad will investigate ice and methamphetamine use in Australia.
The announcement included some positives. An emphasis on alcohol in Anacad is certainly welcome, but let’s see if that translates into support for evidence-based policies such as increased alcohol prices and less liberal availability. Professor Ted Wilkes, an expert on alcohol and drug problems among Indigenous Australians, has been appointed to Anacad, and that is also very welcome.
The downgrading of Anacad from an advisory body to the prime minister, however, and the appointment of Hull as chair are yet more examples of the Abbott government’s ham fisted approach to policy. Within two months of coming to office, Nash accepted advice from the alcohol industry to defund the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia. Nash may have been headed for the barnacle machine were it not that she is one of the few women in the outer ministry and a National to boot.
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