Like many, the loss of life in last week’s Lalor Park tragedy made me feel sick to my stomach. My thoughts are with the surviving members of this family who have experienced the sudden loss of a young boy and a grandmother. The reasons behind this tragedy are to be determined by police and the courts; it is not for me.
I also felt sick for the residents who spoke about the ice dealers taking up in their streets. Make no mistake - an ice dealer deals in nothing but misery. Lalor Park is not alone. Ice has moved into our towns and suburbs, our cities and our regions. This is not some tragedy taking place on foreign soil. It’s in our own backyards and on our streets and the threat is growing.
I am a former country cop of 22 years and the impact of this illicit drug is like none I’ve ever seen. It’s not like cannabis, heroin, cocaine or the raft of other illicit drugs that have a slow-burn capacity to destroy lives and tear families apart.
I’d compare the effect of a person taking this powerful drug to dropping a jet engine into an old Ford. Our bodies aren’t built to sustain it. Quickly and savagely, it grabs the user who becomes the passenger to the drug. Irrational behaviour, superhuman strength and bouts of extraordinary violence can result. Families, friends and jobs fall by the wayside.
For example, one successful businessman I know of quickly grew an ice habit in a regional NSW town and lost his business, his family and his house. Ice left him with nothing. I’m often asked why ice is different from other drugs, why it has become so commonplace and cut across all parts of our society. The reason is compared to other illicit drugs, it’s incredibly crude and easy to produce in somebody’s back shed. This makes it incredibly cheap and easy for the user to access.
That’s why we need to set our sights on ice manufacturers and dealers. They trade in misery with full knowledge of the devastating impacts of ice on the user and therefore on the community. Their only consideration is profits. We need to interrupt their criminal business models by showing we too mean business and will fill our prisons with them. At the same time we need to ensure the users get real and effective assistance for their addictions.
This epidemic has come relatively quickly and continues to develop. As Government we saw it coming and have made big steps to gear up and meet it on the law enforcement and treatment fronts. While we recognise we need to do more on this issue, we recognise we cannot do it alone.
We stand ready to work with communities and families who are most impacted by ice, to reclaim our suburbs and towns from this insidious drug.