Meth consumption in regional WA highest in country

Law Enforcement Minister Angus Taylor, Canning MP Andrew Hastie and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive Michael Phelan at the announcment on Thursday. Photo: Amy Martin
Law Enforcement Minister Angus Taylor, Canning MP Andrew Hastie and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive Michael Phelan at the announcment on Thursday. Photo: Amy Martin

Meth consumption in regional Western Australia is the highest in the country. 

Minister for Law Enforcement Angus Taylor, Canning MP Andrew Hastie and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive Michael Phelan were in Mandurah on Thursday morning, revealing the results of the fourth National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report. 

The report’s 12 month period saw  a "dramatic consumption” of methamphetamines with an estimated 8.3 tonnes of the drug consumed across Australia.

As of December 2017, Adelaide continued to have the highest per capita consumption of methylamphetamine and WA had the highest average regional consumption.

"We know that we have a particular problem in some regions and here in WA – particularly in regional WA – we have the highest consumption of any regional area in Australia and we have higher consumption than nearly all the capital cities,”  Mr Taylor said. 

“What this analysis allows us to do is focus our efforts – our law enforcement efforts, our demand reduction efforts, our harm minimisation efforts – on those local areas where we know the consumption is highest.”

The report aims to give a clear picture of changing trends in the consumption of methylamphetamine and 11 other drugs across Australia and was developed from data gathered at 45 wastewater sites.

While the results couldn’t identify specific test locations, Mr Hastie said it did illustrate the dire situation facing the Peel region.

“I hear stories every other week. It [drug use] stays the same,” he said.  

“There are a lot of positives happening in Mandurah... but the drug issue continues to linger and that is problematic.

“We need to take action because anecdotally I can tell you that families have been ripped apart, lives have been destroyed.

Photo: Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

Photo: Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

“We see criminal activity and just recently I've heard from people in smaller towns like Dwellingup who say they are becoming a bit like ungoverned spaces with a lot of drug activity taking place and making it difficult for residents in those towns.”

Mr Hastie said the report highlighted the need for the government’s landmark plan to fight drug addiction in Mandurah.

The government’s drug testing trial would identify those on welfare struggling with drug dependency and direct them to services that will help overcome addiction.

If passed, Mandurah would be one of three national locations to trial the program.

“I’m fighting for the program to pass through parliament,” Mr Hastie said.  

“It’s only a trial at this stage, but considering what today’s Wastewater Report reveals, we would be foolish not to do everything we can to fight drug addiction in the Peel region.

“People who are addicted to drugs need our assistance and one of the greatest barriers for long-term employment is drug addiction.

“At the moment, that test is being held up in the Senate. Labor have opposed it; the crossbench have opposed it.

“This is about helping people and identifying job seekers who are addicted to drugs and giving them help and rehabilitation.”

Mr Phelan said the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program was world leading, based on the number of substances tested, the frequency of testing, its breadth, depth and geographic scope and the longitudinal data it is generating.

Photo: Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

Photo: Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

The fourth report gave conservative estimates of the weight of methylamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA and heroin consumed nationally in a year.

“We estimate that over 8.3 tonnes of methylamphetamine is consumed in Australia each year, as well as over 3 tonnes of cocaine, 1.2 tonnes of MDMA and 700 kilograms of heroin,” Mr Phelan said.

“Such estimates can then be compared with other data, such as the weight of drugs seized by law enforcement, to further enrich our collective understanding of these drug markets and identify the most effective supply, demand and harm reduction measures.”