LUKAS Cochaap

Palmer silent over government bid to tackle meth

THERE are plenty committed to beating the ice epidemic sweeping the nation, but it would appear Federal Member for Fairfax Clive Palmer is not among them, if his silence is anything to go by.

As local politicians sent their thoughts on the battle with crystal meth (ice) to the Federal Government's Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement inquiry into crystal meth and Coast rehab experts told of their experiences, Mr Palmer offered nothing to the Daily.

When asked whether he'd made submissions to the inquiry, or what he believed was needed to combat the growing problem, Mr Palmer and his Palmer United Party staffers were unable to provide any response.

Francis McLachlan, owner of The Health Retreat, a Maleny rehab centre, said he was seeing more and more ice addicts present to his centre from increasingly varied age brackets.

"Unfortunately it's an area epidemic for the Sunshine Coast," Mr McLachlan said.

"It's not only in Maroochydore and Mooloolaba; it stretches far into the hinterland."

Mr McLachlan said he thought we'd lost a generation, and felt the best way to combat the growing drug problem was to focus on the next generation through improved education in schools, not only in stress management but also in improving self-worth and engagement.

"The only way to attack the ice issue is by education or re-education of young people and you'll see the results in five-to-10 years," he said.

"We need to teach them to like themselves and enjoy interaction with people."

Mr McLachlan said encouraging kids to engage with their families was also critical.

"We all know who Captain Cook was, who crossed the Blue Mountains, but not once do our schools teach us how to deal with stress and it's the one thing we'll encounter every day," he said.

"It used to be alcohol, now it's crystal meth."

Federal Member for Fisher Mal Brough said he'd recently met with top Coast police to ensure any response taken by the Federal Government would be an approach coordinated with police.

Meanwhile State Member for Buderim, Steve Dickson, wrote to the Parliamentary Committee calling for a coordinated response from a number of government departments, including looking at introducing nationwide laws targeting criminal bikie gangs, in a bid to combat the production and distribution of crystal meth.

Mr McLachlan said there were other social factors that needed to change, including the fact that he believed ice was becoming more appealing for young people than alcohol.

Despite being given an extended period to provide a response, Mr Palmer was unable to say whether he believed ice was an issue, what he would do to combat the issue and whether or not he had found the time in his schedule to provide a submission to the Parliamentary Committee.



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