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New plan to fine Aussies $400 instead of court sentence if found with drugs

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New plan to fine Aussies $400 instead of court sentence if found with drugs in major overhaul

  • Proposed legislation would result in people being fined if caught possessing drugs
  • NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman outlined his plan for new settlement
  • People would be fined $400 instead of a court date if caught

New legislation would see Australians caught drug-possessed with a $400 fine rather than a court date in a sweeping overhaul of the current justice system.

New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman proposed the settlement stemming from recommendations of the Special Commission of Inquiry Into Ice released in 2020.

The AG said it was “disappointed” that the state government had not taken advice from the $10 million investigation and voiced its support for alternative methods of tackling the country’s illegal drug problem.

Mr Speakman outlined a plan that credited police with deciding whether to hand out $400 fines to people caught drug possession in a “pre-court drug diversion scheme.”

He said violators should face up to two fines, with fines to be waived if they undertake health intervention programs.

New legislation would see Australians caught drug-possessed with a $400 fine rather than a court date in a sweeping overhaul of the current justice system

The $400 compensation he offered is higher than the fine a first-time offender would face if they went to court — because he said his idea is “not soft on drug use.”

“Such a scheme would put drug users in touch with appropriate health treatment,” said Mr Speakman.

A breach notification scheme has been supported by former Police Commissioner Mick Fuller in his submission to the Ice Inquiry and also, for example, former Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione.

“It’s more modest than Ice Inquiry Recommendation 12, which proposed three notices.”

New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman (pictured) proposed the settlement stemming from recommendations from the Special Commission of Inquiry into Ice

New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman (pictured) proposed the settlement stemming from recommendations from the Special Commission of Inquiry into Ice

Former Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian’s war on drugs saw her ‘close the door’ to pill testing despite a spate of overdoses and deaths at festivals.

Then-deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame handed over a report recommending the use of pill testing, but instead Ms Berejiklian ignored the advice and sent more police officers to monitor the music events.

The attorney general said his new approach was “barely radical” but instead a necessary step forward, as previous legislation has done little to discourage young people from using drugs.

“We already have a regulation for notification of violations for drugs at music festivals, but without health intervention,” he said.

“Severe penalties would continue to apply to supply and trade. I welcome the cabinet debate on these and other ways to tackle the scourge of illegal drugs in our communities.”

The attorney general said his new approach was

The attorney general said his new approach was “barely radical” but instead a necessary step forward

Matt Noffs, the CEO of Australia’s largest drug and alcohol treatment service for people under 25, the Noffs Foundation, welcomed Mr Speakman’s change in tact.

“First of all, NSW AG should be congratulated on proposing changes to our drug laws,” he said in a statement.

“It is very clear to every family, to every police officer, to every social worker and even to politicians that our drug laws are a terrible failure. The AG’s proposed changes are a step forward, but do not go far enough. It’s time to think big.’

Mr Noffs pointed to the injection room in Kings Cross and pill testing in ACT as trials that have been rolled out successfully and encouraged lawmakers to think outside the box when it came to drugs.

Locking up children for experimentation is not only a waste of money, but also a waste of life. By locking up children, they become criminals and often for life,” says Noffs.

‘Recidivism rates are tragic. Yes, treatment is cheaper and works and our laws should support easier ways to get there. We can’t lock up our way out of drug problems.”

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