Jail time and law enforcement will not end Western Australia’s methamphetamine epidemic, state Labor leader Mark McGowan says.
While the WA government’s focus has been prosecutions, Mr McGowan says education and rehabilitation is the key to combating the destructive drug.
“Law enforcement has its place but while there is huge levels of demand and huge money to be made, it is not going to fix the problem – you actually have to make people stop using it and put resources into getting people off it,” Mr McGowan told AAP.
Mr McGowan criticised the state government for what he said was a delayed response to WA’s ice problem, which was the nation’s worst.
According to 2013 statistics, 3.8 per cent of the WA population aged over 14 has used the drug, while the national average is 2.1 per cent.
“The state has done bugger all on education and rehabilitation, and their most recent answer which was testing sewage is testament to that,” he said.
“I’d prefer to see more resources put into rehabilitation services rather than just jailing people.”
Earlier this month the state government indicated it would start testing Perth’s waste water to measure the extent of the ice problem.
Around the same time, Police Minister Liza Harvey said law enforcement would focus on the importation of meth across state borders in a bid to stem the flow of the drug onto the streets.
Mental Health Minister Helen Morton also said the state government would spend more than $1 million over the next three years on education and awareness campaigns to prevent methamphetamine use and reduce harm.