An e-petition in Queensland Parliament calling for Medically Supervised Injection Facilities has been met with mixed responses from politicians and stakeholders.
The petition, which closes in July, draws attention to the need for “genuine harm-reduction strategies by establishing Medically Supervised Injection Facilities in Queensland”.
Masters student and member of the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties Cameron Ljubic said he launched the petition to educate the public about broader drug law reform issues.
“For me the issue is more around legalisation and better regulation,” Mr Ljubic said.
“I thought I would start it (the petition) now and get the conversations going.”
Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president and senior staff specialist at St. Vincent’s Hospital Alcohol and Drug Service Dr Alex Wodak has advocated the benefits of introducing Medically Supervised Injection Facilities in Brisbane.
“The evidence is really strong now,” Dr Wodak stated.
“(Medically Supervised Injection Facilities) reduce the local harms spilling over from large drug markets e.g. fatal and non-fatal overdoses; public injecting; and littering.”
The Queensland Greens are in support of trialing facilities.
Brisbane Lord Mayoral candidate Andrew Bartlett said that he is open to approaches that focus on harm minimisation rather than law enforcement.
“There are a growing number of people from a range of backgrounds including law-enforcement backgrounds…and health backgrounds who recognise the current system is not working…and it’s costing us a fortune,” Mr Bartlett said.
Valley Chamber of Commerce Treasurer Carol Gordon said if facilities were to be introduced in Fortitude Valley, processes needed to be in place to agree on what is good for the wider community as well as a facility and its users.
“There are serious town planning issues associated with (Medically Supervised Injection Facilities),” Ms Gordon Said.
“We’ve got some 48 laneways, alleyways and short streets in this area…out of sight out of mind is an issue…where the injecting room meets the public space in the street and how that’s managed.”
The Greens and the Valley Chamber of Commerce said there needed to be a collaborative approach from the state government and Brisbane City Council.
The Greens state spokesperson Libby Connors said the Premier “would be keenly aware that opinion is divided in the community” between a harm-minimisation approach and a policing approach.
“I thought that Campbell Newman might have been prepared to give it some thought simply because his electorate is a Brisbane-based electorate,” Ms Connors said.
“The public doesn’t want to confront this issue and doesn’t want to have a sensible discussion about it but that’s the first step.”
Ms Gordon said state and local government jurisdiction needed to be managed effectively with stakeholder input.
“No government department gets taxes (from the illegal drug trade) and until taxes are obtained from it none of the departments really want to own the problem,” Ms Gordon said.
A spokesperson for the Brisbane Central state member, Robert Cavallucci, said it was not the LNP’s policy to support Medically Supervised Injection Facilities.
“There is no policy for the LNP to do so…it is not on our agenda at the moment,” he said.
Brisbane Lord Mayor, Graham Quirk, and ALP Lord Mayoral candidate Ray Smith have not responded to questions about the petition.
Graham Quirk has announced he will deliver a $4 million facelift to the Valley Mall as part of his ongoing campaign to clean up Fortitude Valley.
A Team Quirk press release said Cr Quirk had delivered an “extra 50 sharps disposal bins installed in public toilets and other public spaces”.
But, Cr Quirk has not outlined a plan to introduce Medically Supervised Injection Facilities as part of his campaign.
The petition can be viewed at www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/petitions/e-petitions