One Nation candidate the first to put drug policy on table
ONE Nation's Wade Rothery is the first candidate in the race for Capricornia to offer up some tangible, albeit hardline, solutions to battle the drug dependency crisis that has a stranglehold on Central Queensland.
Citing police figures, Mr Rothery said a rise in drug dependency and drug-related crimes was evident and that current approaches from the state and federal governments were not working.
Since 2013, Rockhampton, Emu Park, Lakes Creek and Yeppoon have recorded a combined total of 11,407 drug offences.
"Our coastal towns of Yeppoon and Emu Park have recorded higher numbers of drug offences this year compared to 2018, with particularly concerning results for Emu Park," Mr Rothery said.
After Emu Park's 46 recorded drug offences in 2018, Mr Rothery is worried that if the rise in averages continues in 2019 the town may experience as many as 114.
"To see a spike of this nature tells me our region's drug problem is only worsening, not getting any better," he said.
One Nation has unveiled a policy that would redirect proceeds of drug crimes into rehabilitation centres through regional Australia, including Capricornia.
Current federal police seizures of drug money and proceeds of crime end up in consolidated revenue, but Mr Rothery believes if government is serious about getting people off drugs, facilities must be built to deal with the problem.
"Instead of talking about pill testing and wasting millions on an idea that quite frankly sends a very confusing message to young people, we should be putting that money into building rehab centres," he said.
"It should be a case of three strikes and you're out. These people need a 13-week cold turkey program in a rehab centre.
"We have to be cruel to be kind because the message simply isn't getting through."
Mr Rothery also took aim at the 42-bed rehabilitation facility planned by the Queesland Government, saying it was "too little, too late".
"We need to get tough on drugs now because the soft approach we've been taking is costing lives, driving up the price of our health budget and we're creating a society of angry, violent and harmful zombies," he said.
Mr Rothery said high alcohol prices due to federal tax hikes might also be leading to drug dependency, and pill testing money could be better spent.
"When I'm told that a person can buy a hit of ice for as little as $7 that lasts for 24 hours, versus a schooner of beer for $8, we have a problem," he said.
Last month, Capricornia incumbent Michelle Landry's moves to attract federal funding into the region to improve drug services paid off with the news that $2.3 million would be allocated.
"I thought it was very important to get the (Regional Services) Minister (Bridget McKenzie) up here because I have serious worries about the amount of ice being used in this region," Ms Landry said
"(In January) we heard about an 11-year-old child through the Salvation Army who had been taking ice."
Labor's candidate, Russell Robertson, said he would focus on strengthening law enforcement and mental health support, but fell short of offering any policy for the region.
"Our local law enforcement authorities should continue to have the resources and support they need to get the scumbags peddling the drugs," he said.
"I also I think we need to be investing in more mental health support in Central Queensland."
United Australia Party's Lindsay Sturgeon told The Morning Bulletin a localised policy was in the works.
"I agree with the statement that methamphetamine dependency is an issue in our community and that it needs to be addressed. We will release policy on this in due course," he said.