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Anderton: CAYAD community meeting, Dunedin

Hon Jim Anderton Associate Minister of Health

CAYAD community meeting, Dunedin

12.30pm Friday, 24 September 2004 Arai Te Uru Marae, 24 Shetland St, Dunedin.


Kia ora.

Thank you, Dunedin Community Action Youth And Drugs, for organizing this meeting on reducing the demand for drugs in Dunedin.

Having visited the Dunedin CAYAD earlier this year, it is good to be part of a broader meeting of stakeholders who share your important work.

As you know, last year my party bid for funding in the coalition government's Budget to establish fifteen new CAYADs (adding to the five already in existence) to strengthen the arm of communities like your own to help turn around our society's problems with drug use and alcohol abuse.

Budget 2004 included funding to permit independent evaluation for the CAYAD sites because taxpayers need to know they are getting the best value for money out of our collective investment in the campaign against drug use and alcohol abuse.

I have made a commitment to visit each CAYAD provider and, always with an eye to taxpayer costs, these meetings for the most part are being fitted into to the industry and business sector visits that I make to the regions in my role as Minister for Industry & Regional Development.

Because the pilot 'P, alcohol and other drugs' forum in Tauranga went well, I am also going to host 'P, alcohol and other drugs' public meetings around the country and will host a forum here in Dunedin next year which I know you'll be interested in.

I have discovered there are differences in emphasis in different areas that I have been to so far, reflecting the diverse range of communities we have in New Zealand.

But there is one thing which is held absolutely in common that I have found from Helensville to Huntly, from Morrinsville to Auckland City, from Waitakere to Clendon, and Manurewa to Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty:

It is something worth its weight in gold.

And it is the commitment, vision and determination of people at the coalface to uplift communities, day after day.

I don't need to tell you what a challenge it is to help people turn their lives around.

But I do need to thank you for your work in getting behind the most vulnerable in this community so that we can together turn the tide on P and other illegal dangerous drugs, including alcohol-related harm, that remains such a large and complex challenge to us all.

The Labour Progressive government's National Drug Strategy has three arms to it.

I realize that all of you here today fit somewhere within that strategy.

The CAYAD work in the demand-reduction field fits in like a piece in a jigsaw with the other two arms of the strategy.

They are to reduce the supply of dangerous drugs and to provide treatment and rehabilitation for the victims of the drug peddlers.

We need to work on all fronts at the same time to get results.

You need to know that while many of you here are working directly on empowering people to reduce the demand for drugs and alcohol, your work is being complemented by government efforts to tighten the screws on the suppliers of drugs, those peddlers of destruction and failure.

To update you a little on the supply reduction strategy, Parliament last week progressed the Misuse of Drugs Amendment (No. 3) Bill to the Health Select Committee.

The new law provides, for example, for a quicker way to implement 'presumption of supply' decisions, it cracks down on importers who aim to make illicit drugs out of precursors listed in the legislation, with a penalty on conviction of up to seven years' imprisonment.

The use of controlled deliveries, where Customs tracks a package believed to contain Class A, B, or C drugs, will be extended to all precursors to allow authorities to arrest importers once they have taken possession of the parcel.

The legislation particularly targets the precursors ephedrine and pseudoephedrine by allowing Police the ability to respond quickly. The Bill extends the powers of search and seizure without warrant to these substances and the new law also gives Police and Customs broader powers to undertake personal searches without warrants during a controlled delivery operation, in order to take instant action to recover evidence.

These laws are very tough. But the challenge society faces from these drugs is so extreme that we must be very strong in our collective response.

The government is also concerned, as you will be, with some legal substances that also cause grief in the wrong hands.

I have therefore signaled my intention to introduce a new Schedule into the Misuse of Drugs Act to give us a better handle on regulating, if necessary, the purchasing and marketing of so-called "legal highs," and possibly volatile substances that are being abused, for example, by those, mainly young people who sniff glue or other solvents.

The National Drug Policy is all about helping people to get back on their feet through education and treatment. And it is also about hitting the suppliers very hard indeed so that they are in no doubt that their illicit, dangerous activities are unacceptable to all remotely responsible New Zealanders.

For me, the further lifting of our economic development performance is utterly intertwined with our goal of ridding our communities of drug and alcohol misuse.

For me, the nationwide CAYAD project focuses on strengthening communities, empowering the most vulnerable and offering hope where there is now too much failure.

Drugs affect whole communities - the parents of users, users themselves, those whom some users offend against, schools, local business and - everyone involved in local community life.

I believe we are in a battle. And we have to win it because failure is not an option.

It is now time for me to stop talking and to listen to you and your ideas on how we are going in our common campaign.


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