by Ross Sharp

From various artists …

November 2013

“The New South Wales Government has ruled out allowing terminally-ill people to legally use cannabis to manage pain.

In May, a cross-party parliamentary committee unanimously recommended allowing terminally-ill patients and people with AIDS to legally use up to 15 grams of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

But the O’Farrell Government has rejected the recommendation, saying there is limited evidence about the efficiency of cannabis for medical purposes and it does not support the use of unregulated cannabis products.

Laurence Mather, Emeritus Professor of Anaesthesia at the University of Sydney, spent 40 years working in the field of pain management. 

“I’m very disappointed the government dismissed the evidence that was there,” he said.

“The evidence keeps coming in and gets stronger as the years go by”

“This is a lot safer than many of the medications that are used at the moment, I really don’t quite get where the government is coming from.””

January 2014

Eight-year-old Tara was having up to 60 seizures a day but has made a miraculous recovery since her mother , Cheri started giving her liquid cannabis made in Nimbin.

Doctors at one of Victoria’s leading hospitals have acknowledged the “remarkable improvements” in the girl’s condition one year after she started taking the drug.

But Health Minister David Davis has warned families not to use medicinal marijuana, saying it remains illegal in Victoria and that the Government “does not intend to change this legislation”.

A Sunday Herald Sun investigation has found that up to 10 Victorian children, some as young as three, are taking daily doses of medicinal marijuana – in some cases administered by teachers – as desperate parents turn their back on pharmaceutical drugs.

Cheri O’Connell gives her daughter Tara a liquid form of medicinal marijuana known as THC-A – which is posted to her in the mail – to treat her severe epilepsy.”

January 2014

Reduced pub trading hours in Sydney’s Kings Cross would not have prevented an attack that has left an 18-year-old man critically injured, New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell says.

Builder Shaun McNeil, 25, has been charged over a king hit to Daniel Christie while the teenager was out celebrating New Year’s Eve with his older brother.

Mr Christie was attacked close to where Thomas Kelly was fatally punched in 2012, and the latest incident has again raised questions about the State Government’s response to alcohol-fuelled violence.

Acting Opposition Leader Linda Burney says the Government must follow the example set in Newcastle, where no shots are served after 10pm, no patrons are allowed into a venue after 1am and no alcohol can be sold after 3am.

“I’m of a very strong view that we have to at least trial this policy to see whether or not the same outcomes that Newcastle experienced, and that was less violence, can be achieved in Sydney,” Ms Burney said.

A study by Professor Kypros Kypri from the University of Newcastle found a 37 per cent fall in alcohol-related violence when the restrictions were introduced there.”

January 2014

Exclusive: Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s plea to end drunken street violence across Australia

“LIKE most Australians, I enjoy a drink on social occasions.

However, as a father and as a citizen, I’m appalled by the violent binge drinking culture that now seems so prevalent, especially at “hot spots” in our big cities.

I’m sick of the fact that alcohol-fuelled violence has turned places that should be entertainment precincts into “no-go zones”.

Hospital emergency departments should not be overflowing with the victims of substance abuse every Friday and Saturday night. The media should not be full of stories about the latest casualties from our own streets.

We need community solutions between police, local government, pubs and clubs and residents. Some communities have already demonstrated that progress can be made and many pubs, clubs and alcohol providers have discovered it is better to solve a problem and be part of the solution, than have a solution imposed on them.

We have to approach this in a way that makes our streets safer. That means resisting the idea one single action will change everything; that one group is responsible for this problem or one politician has the answer or is the cause. While this is not an easy area, with much control in the hands of state and local governments, the Commonwealth stands ready to work with the states, parents and communities. to tackle this scourge.”

November 2013

One of the nation’s oldest health organisations has been placed in voluntary administration after its funding was cut by the government.

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia, which has operated since 1966, learned on Monday its funding would cease immediately. The council is the peak body for organisations working to minimise the harm caused by drugs and alcohol, providing professional development, information sharing and advocacy services on an annual budget of $1.6 million from the federal Health Department.

 President of the council’s board, former Liberal MP Mal Washer, said the decision was a ”devastating blow” that would undermine years of work.

”It effectively erases decades of corporate knowledge, and leaves the sector without representation at a national level,” Dr Washer said.

“In 46 years, this is the only government that has decided it can do without ADCA’s advice”, Professor Ian Webster.

July 2013

Strict guidelines proposed for the sale of alcohol in NSW have been watered down to remove bans on the use of celebrities who appeal to under-18s in promotions and mention of specific events targeting women after intense lobbying from the industry.

New guidelines released by the NSW government on Thursday morning show sections pertaining to the promotion of alcohol to minors, promotions deemed “indecent and offensive” and rules for the discounting of alcohol have been rewritten compared with draft guidelines established in August last year.

As previously revealed by Fairfax Media, the section dealing with “extreme discounts” on alcohol such as those offered in “shopper docket” offers by Coles and Woolworths has also been rewritten.

In particular, a proposed ban on promotions which offer discounts on alcohol greater than 50 per cent has been dropped.”

January 2014

The O’Farrell government’s reluctance to consider pub lockouts and earlier closing times to drive down alcohol-fuelled violence has inevitably led to the charge it is in the pocket of the hotel industry.

And it’s easy to understand why, given the close ties between politics and pubs in this state.

For starters, the chief executive of the NSW branch of the Australian Hotels Association, Paul Nicolaou, is a former Liberal candidate who for many years ran the state party’s fund-raising arm, the Millennium Forum.

He also happens to be close to the minister responsible for liquor licensing matters in NSW, George Souris.

Then there is the party powerbroker Michael Photios, who runs the dominant left faction of the NSW Liberals.

To capitalise on the election of a Coalition government he established a political lobbying firm, Premier State. The AHA is a key client.

Now factor in the hundreds of thousands of dollars the AHA donated to the NSW Liberal Party shortly before the 2011 election, and a damning picture begins to emerge.

So it’s little wonder that accusations fly when Souris and Barry O’Farrell rule out the measures being called for by the police union, senior doctors and emergency services workers: 1am lockouts and 3am closing times for pubs.

Yet the government has point blank refused to commit to a trial of the measure experts say will have the greatest impact – lockouts and earlier closing times – even if only in the violence hotspots of Kings Cross and central Sydney.

Central to the government’s argument is that a 1am lockout would not have prevented the death of 18-year-old Thomas Kelly, who was hit about 10pm in Kings Cross in July 2012.

But the upswell of outrage is not solely about so-called ”king-hits” or ”coward punches” fuelled by alcohol.

It is an outpouring of frustration at the state of Kings Cross and central Sydney any time after dark each weekend.

As long as the government continues to rule out a trial of lockouts, coupled with a serious analysis of its effect, its credibility is likely to remain shot on the issue.””

January 2014, ABC “AM”

TONY EASTLEY: A senior policeman based in Sydney’s Kings Cross is describing the New South Wales Government policies on alcohol related violence as deceitful and beholden to a powerful lobby.

In the past few weeks, several cases of bashings have put the issue in the spotlight.

Inspector Pat Gooley says the Government is ignoring a proven solution because its implementation would upset the powerful hotels industry.

Inspector Gooley is vice-president of the [NSW] state Police Association

TOM NIGHTINGALE: What do you think of the New South Wales Government efforts to tackle it?

PAT GOOLEY: Look, I think what they’re doing is really fluffing around the edges. We’re calling for the introduction of what’s referred to as the Newcastle model, what’s been tried and tested in Newcastle. It’s been trialled and it’s been proven and it works and we say it is certainly well past due to bring those trials or those measures in.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: Why do you think it’s not happening then?

PAT GOOLEY: I can only speculate on that. You know we’ve seen things about us being a global city, about tourism, about the loss of revenue to the government and to publicans – what price do we put on a young blokes life?

TOM NIGHTINGALE: Do you think that the Premier Barry O’Farrell, the Hospitality Minister in New South Wales, George Souris, do you think they are genuine in trying to do what they can to address alcohol related violence?

PAT GOOLEY: No, look I don’t think they are. I think it’s, um, as I said the Newcastle measures have been tried and tested.

Who needs professors and doctors and research and evidence and expert advice and commentary from qualified professionals when we’ve got such giants of political thought and intellectual acuity as Barry O’Farrell and Tony Abbott to sort all this shit out and solve it for us?