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Saying that society cannot “arrest” its way out of the sweeping ‘ice’ epidemic, the MP for the federal seat of Page, which covers much of the Northern Rivers, has welcomed the Turnbull government’s response to the national taskforce on the highly addictive and harmful drug.

Ice’, also known as ‘crystal meth’, is a crystalline form of the drug methamphetamine. It can cause paranoia and hallucinations, and is often associated with violence, increasing the ‘fight or flight’ reaction that can make people respond more aggressively to situations where they feel threatened 

The Nationals’ Kevin Hogan said the taskforce, and now the government, had picked up one of the points that came out of a recent crisis forum held in Lismore.

Ice is playing havoc in many regional communities, including ours,” he said, stressing that “local problems need local solutions”, an approach sanctioned in the $300M funding package.

The Government’s response to the Ice Taskforce will allow our community to tackle Ice use head on,” Mr Hogan said.

Our local North Coast Primary Health Network [the PHNs are the former Medicare Locals] will be funded to boost local alcohol and drug treatment services and help reduce the demand for this very dangerous drug.”

The package will see $241M invested in treatment services through the country’s 31 PHNs, with an additional $13M to introduce new MBS items for addiction medicine specialists to increase the availability of treatment.

A further $24.9M million will provide resources, information and support to families and communities, with an additional $18.8M million to help establish better research into the synthetic drug, including a new Centre for Excellence for Emerging Drug Concern.

This is an all-of-government approach that we need to tackle the problem of Ice. We cannot arrest our way out of this - it is much more than simply a law-and-order issue. We must also work to reduce the demand for the drug,” Mr Hogan said.