OP ED: ICE decimating Regional Queensland

Deb Frecklington, LNP Member for Nanango

Published in The Sunday Mail

The ICE epidemic is ravaging Queensland. ICE has infiltrated our small towns and cities, it is destroying families and attacking the very soul and fabric of our community.

This drug doesn’t discriminate, it decimates. Everything ICE touches it hurts.

You don’t need to be addicted or even use this deadly drug to be haunted by its effects. No area is immune, in my electorate, cars get stolen, people get robbed just so people can feed their habit. There is a thing called ‘ICE Rage’ where people, previously law abiding citizens, lose control and what’s worse they have no idea, no sense of what they are doing.

I remember reading a story about a handwritten letter written by a little girl to a judge earlier this year begging him to forgive her dad for stabbing to death his best friend during an ‘ICE Rage’.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than when a person from my community reaches out to tell me how ICE has devastated their family, extended family and livelihood.

It is tearing apart the fabric of regional communities across regional Queensland. Addicts talk about how it is worse than heroine, worse than coke, worse than marijuana. Police talk about how addictive it is, how the crooks provide free samples to get people hooked and families talk about how they are lost and how it is ripping them apart.

One thing is for sure this drug is hideous and we are in grave danger of losing a whole generation to it. The major drug dealers deliberately target regional Queensland towns as they’re easy pickings. Organised crime gangs who supply the drug know they can run it through our country towns easier than cities as it’s harder to contain. There are lower police numbers, people are more separated and isolated by geography and there’s more economic disadvantage such as higher unemployment – so the market is there.

In many parts of regional Queensland, youth unemployment is at crisis levels. In Western Queensland, it is above 50%. This is fertile territory for ICE and once it gets a foothold it spreads like wildfire.

ICE continues to damage towns like Roma, St George, Maryborough and Bundaberg. Little wonder the Warrego and Bruce are known as the ICE highways.

I don’t want our regional towns and regional people to suffer anymore. I certainly don’t want us to give up without a fight.

I am extremely passionate about ensuring this drug is removed from our regional communities once and for all. It is one of my main priorities as Liberal National Party Leader.

I am proud of the comprehensive ICE strategy we took to the state election but distraught that politics may get in the way and it may never be implemented.

Today, I write this as a plea to Annastacia Palaszczuk, please take our plan and enact it. I am happy to provide bipartisan support because this issue is above politics. People’s lives are at stake. In fact the longevity and well-being of whole communities, especially in regional Queensland, are at stake.

What’s needed by Annastacia Palaszczuk is real action to tackle this problem now, not more regional talkfests.

Our comprehensive plan includes increased crime prevention and awareness, more drug rehabilitation services across the state, stronger enforcement and shutting down organised crime networks that supply drugs to our kids.

We wanted to establish four new drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres in Cairns, Wide Bay, Toowoomba and Caloundra as well as establish a dedicated treatment team to provide additional addiction services in remote indigenous communities.

The plan would establish a dedicated Police ICE Taskforce to work with federal agencies to restrict supply through joint enforcement operations including targeting organised crime manufacturing and distribution.

We can’t sit idly by and do nothing anymore.

Increased prevention is also a key to tackling this scourge – that is why the LNP want to partner with sporting bodies at a local, state and national level to educate people about the dangers of ICE.

We need to implement a state-wide education and awareness campaign with a specific focus on high-risk communities and demographics.

This includes doing such things as financially boosting prevention services such as Lives Well Lived to target high-risk demographics and supporting the NRL’s Community Health Program which focuses on indigenous Queenslanders and at-risk males aged 18 to 35.

We need highly targeted mental health and drug awareness campaigns and what better way to reach people than through more than 4000 community clubs across the state.

There is now so much widespread evidence of escalating ICE use what we needs is a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach.

We need strong action now to tackle the scourge of ICE in our communities.

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