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Former premier, health groups urge Perrottet to implement ice inquiry recommendations

Carr urged Perrottet to adopt Howard’s recommendations at a Drug Policy Australia forum in Sydney on Thursday.

Carr said he initially had “conservative” instincts on the Kings Cross injecting centre, but followed expert advice delivered at a drug summit on heroin.

“I don’t think there’s anything in the zeitgeist that should inhibit the premier from taking the public into his confidence and saying: these are the reforms that have been recommended, it’s in the spirit of harm-minimisation,” he said, adding the injecting centre had saved lives.

“[Perrottet should say] the principles are the same here. Now the challenge is a drug called ice. If it doesn’t work, we won’t proceed with the experiment, and we will revisit the law.”

Emma Maiden, head of advocacy at Uniting NSW and ACT, which operates the injecting centre, said the inaction was frustrating for the sector, accusing the government of ignoring public and expert opinions “because they’re too scared of a bad headline”.

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Chief executive of peak body Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies Robert Stirling this week wrote to the premier insisting a government strategy be developed urgently.

“We are extremely concerned the government’s long-overdue response will become a political football as part of the 2023 state election campaign,” he said.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians was also “extremely disappointed” that the recommendations, which it supported in full, had not been considered in the budget.

“Long-term policy failures relating to alcohol and other drugs … [have] only been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and increasingly overstretched health services,” said Professor Adrian Dunlop, head of the college’s chapter of addiction medicine.

Rehabilitation service Odyssey House NSW has seen an 18 per cent increase in clients compared to pre-pandemic.

Attorney-General Mark Speakman said in a statement: “The NSW government’s response to the ice inquiry and associated funding remains under active consideration.”

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