SENATOR THE HON. FIONA NASH
MINISTER FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT, REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS, AND RURAL HEALTH
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
MR ANDREW GEE
NATIONALS CANDIDATE FOR CALARE
The Nationals candidate for Calare, Andrew Gee was joined today by the Minister for Rural Health Fiona Nash to announce $5.99 million for local drug and alcohol rehabilitation services as part of a re-elected Coalition Government’s plan to combat the scourge of ice in communities.
“Ice is playing havoc in many regional communities, including ours. The Government’s response to the Ice Taskforce will allow our community to tackle ice use head on,” he said.
“I have always advocated that local problems need local solutions and this huge injection of funds to the Western NSW Primary Health Network will allow it to roll out local programs that are specifically designed to combat the spread of ice in our community.
“Our local PHN will be funded to develop drug treatment services and help reduce the demand for this very dangerous drug.”
Speaking in Orange at the announcement, Minister Nash said although delivery of such services has traditionally been the responsibility of state governments, the Federal Coalition Government had recognised the ice issue was urgent and acted.
“Andrew Gee has lobbied me endlessly on this issue, and I’m so pleased we’re delivering this funding,” Minister Nash said.
“The scourge of ice often hits regional communities hardest.
“I have visited countless regional towns and spoken with hundreds of families grappling with the impact of this terrible drug – including here in Orange and across the Calare electorate.
“Local police, health workers and the National Ice Taskforce have all said we simply cannot arrest our way out of this problem.”
“To break the drug dealer’s business model, we have to smash demand for their terrible product.
“That’s what we’re doing by delivering funding via 31 local Primary Health Networks, to help people get off ice and reduce demand for this horrible drug.”
Mr Gee said the local PHN had conducted a local-needs assessment to determine where there are current gaps in drug treatment services and from July 1 will start using this money to provide various services for methamphetamines, alcohol and other drugs.
“This is an all-of-government approach. We must help users get off this drug while we crack down on dealers.”
This approach was recommended by the Federal Government’s National Ice Taskforce led by the former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Mr Ken Lay APM. The Government asked the Taskforce to provide advice on the development of a National Ice Action Strategy.