The scourge of meth on regional Queensland stampedes on.
The scourge of meth on regional Queensland stampedes on. Martin Sykes

Talkfest won't stop regional Qld's ice epidemic: Gympie MP

THE State Labor Government can no longer hide behind talkfests and delaying tactics to avoid implementing a comprehensive practical strategy to combat the ice epidemic in regional Queensland, Gympie MP Tony Perrett said today.

Mr Perrett was responding to a Courier Mail expose of the insidious, destructive and increasing influence of ice in regional Queensland.

A recovering Gympie drug addict told The Gympie Times last month the use of drugs like ice was "getting a lot worse, a lot quicker”.

Outside of capital cities, the number of support centres was not keeping up with the growing number of drug problems, he said.

Mr Perrett said that the State Labor Government's solution "that a few talkfests will solve the problem are completely out of touch with the reality of the ice epidemic in regional Queensland”.

"The Government has wasted time avoiding the harsh reality of the ice epidemic that too many Gympie residents, families and friends of drug users' face,” he said.

Minister for Agriculture Deb Frecklington and Gympie Regional Council MP Tony Perrett. Photo Patrick Woods / Gympie Times
Potential leader of the LNP and Nanango MP Deb Frecklington with Gympie MP Tony Perrett before the state election. The LNP will decide its leadership today. Patrick Woods

"Our community needs to be acutely aware that Gympie is not immune to drugs.

"Its impact is insidious and it is not just the user but their families, friends and our broader community which is being affected.

"Unfortunately it travels across all regions and levels of society and no income group, family circumstance, employment or education level is immune.

"It ends up in the increasing numbers of drivers being caught drug driving rather than drink driving, and increased levels of crime in Gympie which are either directly or indirectly related to the use of drugs.

"Last year at the Imbil Rural Watch the Officer in Charge at Imbil warned that there were more drug driving than drink driving offences in the Mary Valley.

"The Wide Bay region's crime surge has seen big increases in the last year with assaults up 18.9%, serious assault up 18.3%, robbery up 22.5%, unlawful entry up 9.97%, car thefts up 22.7% and fraud up 95.6%.

"None of these categories is immune from drug taking as users resort to theft and other crimes to support their habit.

"The statistics are very clear and are backed up with reports from counsellors and family members who are devastated by the impact it is having on all those around the ICE users

"My office has had to deal with cases of grandparents, families, and friends concerned about the welfare of young children who are impacted by the use of ICE in their households.

"Reports last year that families were selling their houses, cars and going into debt to rescue their children from the effects of ice should be concerning for our entire community.

"Parents are risking everything to rescue and help their children including families risking bankruptcy and turning to private clinics for rehabilitation.

"The desperation of families was clear when an addiction counsellor rhetorically said last year "what parent is not going to say 'yes I'll sell my house or I'll give you my kidney to save my child's life.

"It is time the State Government actually did something instead of resorting to unproductive talkfests designed to give it a pat on the back for doing nothing.

"By just signing up to something two years ago, such as the National Ice Action Strategy in December 2015, does not mean you have done something.

"You have to tackle it head on.

"The LNP has ready for immediate use a targeted and comprehensive policy of addressing crime prevention, drug addiction services and strong enforcement.

"It will complement the Federal Government's National Ice Action Plan and will tackle providing better treatment, more policing resources, better public awareness and targeted prevention including treatment centres, a police ice taskforce, partnering with sporting bodies to educate about its dangers, and a mental health and drug awareness campaign across more than 4000 community clubs,” he said.