ACT now to stop people using the drug ice or the problem will get way out of hand.
That was the warning yesterday from Murray Valley MP Tim McCurdy, who was been one of the MPs who took part in a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into methamphetamine.
Their report, tabled in Parliament yesterday, found that the purity of crystal methamphetamine sold in Victoria had increased dramatically in the past two years.
And that purity had exacerbated the drug’s harmful effects — the amount of the drug had remained stable.
The Parliament’s Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee’s report said a Premier-led ministerial council should be established to tackle the issue.
Central to any strategy would be getting communities to develop ways to stop people taking up the drug, with education playing a major role.
The committee said a similar approach in New Zealand had led to a 50 per cent reduction in ice use.
Committee chairman Simon Ramsay said ice was a drug “that takes no prisoners in terms of its addictiveness”.
Most users were men aged 20 to 29. Most chose the potent crystal rather than powdered form that exaggerates the drug’s effect.
Mr McCurdy said ice was a “growing concern” that must be treated seriously.
But he said the problem had not reached the point of being an epidemic.
“Left unchecked and, sure, ice will continue to grow at an exponential rate,” he said.
“That is the concern — that if we don’t nip it in the bud now and over the next couple of years, it will be a major, major concern.”
Mr McCurdy said the community had reached that critical point right now.
“We can do something about it over the next couple of years or we can just say, ‘no, this is really not such a big issue and let’s see where it goes and hope it goes away’,” he said.
“I don’t think it will go away because of the drug culture, the people who are using this.
“It’s a very trendy and easy thing to do.”
But Mr McCurdy said it was the highly addictive nature of the drug that was causing the concerns.
The government has six months to respond to the 856-page report, which has 54 recommendations.
Evidence from the committee’s visit to Wodonga in February featured in the findings.
The report’s release came just as the government indicated it would start drug testing waste water throughout the state.
While aware of this, North East Water would not comment on the issue yesterday.
But a spokesman did say it had taken part in a separate Penington Institute study that tested waste water for the presence of methamphetamine.
While the study — done in conjunction with the University of South Australia — focused mainly on Melbourne, it did take readings from other parts of the state.
The spokesman said North East Water was asked to provide data for the study.
This revealed that Melbourne’s western treatment plant had an average of 72,000 doses of methamphetamine a day over two days — a Sunday and a Wednesday.
The figure at the eastern treatment plant was an average of half that — 36,000 doses a day.
The West Wodonga figures was 530, and Warracknabeal 14.
Premier Denis Napthine said the government would consider the inquiry’s recommendations very carefully.