From the Desk of Clr Peter Harle
The issue of drugs and its impacts on society, is not a new one, however the introduction and uptake of ICE over the past five years, is well beyond alarming. There has been no shortage of articles and studies on the topic over the past year, which presents the impacts on users, their family, health workers, hospital security and law enforcement.
Most frustratingly, as a society we are short on legislation and more importantly functional programs to deal with the grip ICE has over far too many. If the upward trend in ICE or Methamphetamine use continues, we will be faced with a complex epidemic that will need to be tackled by all levels of Government.
Matt Noffs of the Ted Noffs Foundation has been gallant in his efforts to spark debate on the topic. Nevertheless, the question remains are “Ice Safe Rooms” the right fit for Liverpool, should Liverpool be the test subject.
My position is – I do NOT support ICE Safe Rooms anywhere in the CBD of Liverpool.
Liverpool and Liverpool hospital should not be the test subject. Based on information at hand, this proposal is not right for Liverpool, and will unlikely ever be. Furthermore, I would like to seek a review of the Methadone Clinics within Liverpool with regard to their location and impact on our CBD; an area that services 1000’s of school age children.
Additionally, my position is that Public Discussion and Consultation is a must, the issue exists and should be debated. Simply pretending it does not exist is dangerous for the Community and Council has a responsibility and duty of care for all its constituents to do exactly that.
THE ROLE OF COUNCIL
Local Councils should not be tool for rolling out Liberal or Labor Party Policy in any way shape or form, the Community should come first in all endeavours, and in point of fact, Council does not set health policy, both Health and Law Enforcement are the responsibility of the State Government.
The role of Council in this issue, as with any other, is to engage with the Governments of the day, to represent the interests of Liverpool and assist with outcomes that benefit Residents and Businesses of Liverpool. This begins with listening to all members of our Local Government Area, to understand their needs, not deciding for them.
I invite further information and consultation from any department or experts in the field, but to my knowledge there are no official policies on this particular issue. The only similar program I am presently aware of was reported in the Penrith Press March 9th of this year and if it proves to be successful then and only then should further trials be investigated.
This trial of NSW’s first Emergency Care Model for Ice Patients was proposed for Nepean Hospital by the former Local Liberal MP Fiona Scott, with the support of Addictive Medicines Specialist Dr. Karen Fisher and Dr. Claire Helm (Nepean Hospital). This proposal also has the support Lizz Reay (Wentworth Healthcare), retired detective Ray King and the Justice Minister Michael Keenan.
With the Local Elections for Liverpool City only weeks away, the Deputy Mayor of Liverpool Tony Hadchiti and the State MP for Holsworthy Melanie Gibbons have both engaged in a shameless act of self and party promotion. The former on Ben Fordam’s Radio program for 2gb and the latter under Parliamentary privilege during Question Time. Both attempting to speak on behalf of and cast aspersions over others, including myself.
“We have installed CCTV cameras in our CBD, which has seen crime drop. Unfortunately, at the last Council Meeting our Labor and Independent Councillors voted to cut funding on those CCTV Cameras”
“We put a motion forward to Council, that we issue a statement making it clear that Council will never support a program that encourages any illicit drug use in our Local Government Area”
“The Liberal Liverpool Council team moved and passed a motion, to make it clear that Liverpool Council would never support this sort of program that would encourage the use of illicit drugs in our LGA.”
“Labor and Independent Councillors voted against this motion and thus voted in favour of supporting programs that encourage the use of illicit drugs to our local government area”
These statements are incorrect, horrendously misleading, bordering on flat out lies and fear mongering. It is electioneering of the worse kind. It would appear that the local liberals are very much disciples of the saying:
Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, or in this case a terrible story.
The Notice of Motion in question reads as follows:
- Receives and notes this report, and
- Adopts the Public Safety Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Policy, attached to this report.
- Issues a statement making it clear that council will never support a program that will encourage the use of illicit drugs in our LGA
- Condemn the comments made by members of Parliament and the former Premier Bob Carr supporting “ice” smoking rooms.
- Acknowledges and welcomes the efforts of Melanie Gibbons MP working to prevent an “ice” smoking room being developed in the area.
- Thanks the Federal Government for their funding of CCTV cameras in Liverpool City Centre.
To even a novice observer it is quickly apparent that this Notice of Motion is deliberately muddled and partisan. It links two separate issues while seeking to condemn the Labor Party and promote the Liberal Party. On this point alone, I could not support the motion, using council for political point scoring does not benefit our Residents in any way.
With regard to CCTV cameras I have made position clear many times. I supported the introduction of Wi-Fi as a part of the CCTV program, based on promises the Wi-Fi would be commercialised to pay for the whole program. This never eventuated. Thus I could not support continued allocation or a new allocation of Council funds to a program that is the responsibility of the State Government.
While I am not convinced of the effectiveness of the CCTV system or the return on investment for $2 million, I am not against CCTV in principle. I am however emphatically against our ratepayers being slugged twice for a program that should be funded by the NSW Government.
Point 3. of the motion, which has been repeated by Mr Hadchiti and Ms Gibbons is assumptive. It is of grave concern when a Mayor, Deputy Mayor and a Local Member pass themselves off as an expert or authority in a field or area they are not trained or experienced in.
Council goes to great lengths to provide Councillors with professional fact checked reports and evidenced based advice. Had the Mayor or Deputy Mayor provided conclusive evidence that a Safe Room in a hospital actually increases the use or encourages the use of illicit drugs then they would have had a unanimous vote.
Instead sensationalised headlines have been recycled as “fact” by the local liberals. Council and Councillors do not and should not conduct their business based on headlines. Liverpool, its Residents and Businesses deserve much better, they deserve a passionate and professional enterprise, they ought not to be “handled” or manipulated by political theatre.
I was elected to represent the people of Liverpool, not the interests of a political party. I will never support a muddled, unprofessional and obviously narrow-minded motion.
For the NSW Liberal Member for Holsworthy to infer, under parliamentary privilege, that my not supporting this motion means that I voted in favour of programs that encourage the use of illicit drugs, is a bold faced lie and she ought to be ashamed of herself.
Let us be clear on why we believe the Local Liberals have engaged in such abhorrent behaviour. Creating a political football out of a State Health Issue, that does not impact our immediate future, is designed to distract and mislead as we draw near to the election.
The important issues which will have an immediate impact on Liverpool Council, its Staff, its Residents and Businesses are the Forensic Audit of the Propel Contract (as part of the Budget) and the ICAC investigation of our soon to be ex-Mayor.
AS YOUR MAYOR
If the people of Liverpool elect me for the position of Mayor and Councillor of Liverpool, and also elect a strong team of Community Independents that make up LCIT, we will hit the ground running:
Fill the Position of CEO, seeking a stable, committed, progressive and innovative culture within Council.
Deal with the fallout of the ICAC investigation and work to restore and improve the reputation of Liverpool.
Deal with the results of the Budget Audit, and implement initiatives that will bring Liverpool back to Surplus.
Move to have a Council led public forum on the Ice Safe Room, so the facts can be heard and discussed openly.
I and my team will not make promises we cannot deliver, we will not push political party ideologies, tell you what to think or attempt to manipulate your vote. With your vote and your support, we aim to represent your passion for Liverpool, so that together Liverpool can meet and exceed its potential.