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Victorian Parliament’s “Ice Committee” meets at the AIC

CrimBrief The Official Blog of the AIC

17 February 2014

I was delighted this week to welcome to the Institute, the Victorian Parliament’s Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee which held three days of their on-going Inquiry into the Supply and use of Methamphetamines in Victoria.

The Committee moved the hearings of what has become commonly known as the ‘Ice Inquiry’, to our meeting rooms in order to capture evidence from national law enforcement, academic and other agency expertise available in the nation’s capital.

Chaired by Representative for the Western Victorian region, Mr Simon Ramsay MLC, with the participation of Committee members Mr Johan Scheffer MLC, Mr David Southwick MLA and Mr Ben Carroll MLA, the Committee heard from 22 separate parties including  both the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Federal Police. These law enforcement agencies presented evidence acknowledging the increasing problem and the escalating numbers of interceptions, seizures and arrests around the illegal crystal methamphetamine industry.

Although it is difficult to get the whole picture around ice, the Crime Commission estimated  that it was likely 50-60 percent of crystal meth was “cooked” in Australia with another possibly 40% or more illegally imported either in powdered form or tablets, or as precursor chemicals.

Witnesses also acknowledged the increasing role of China and India in the international ice trade.

There was also discussion around the involvement of outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Dr Rebecca McKetin a Fellow in mental health research at the ANU college of Medicine, Biology and Environment, took the committee through the biophysical effects of ice on a user, the surge of dopamine and serotonin, particularly when smoked, and the debilitating mental effects arising from heavy use. This includes the violence and paranoia that some users express, often in emergency wards in hospitals. She also briefed the Committee on the issues around addiction and rehabilitation.

The Victorian parliamentary committee takes evidence from Mr Jeremy Douglas and Ms Margaret Akullo from the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime.

Several witnesses expressed serious concern at increased use of ice in Indigenous communities, including remote communities.

Video-conferenced evidence was presented by several eminent overseas criminologists including Professor Ernesto Savona from the Joint Research Centre On Trans-national Crime, University of Milan and University of Trento, and Mr Bill Tupman, a University Fellow at Exeter as well as a consultant on terrorism and organised crime, and Mafia expert, Ms Anna Sergi.

Mr Jeremy Douglas from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also briefed the committee on the East Asia/Pacific aspects of the ice trade, conservatively estimating the trade as accounting for US $15 billion in the region’s illegal economy.

The Committee also met with the Minister for Justice, Mr Michael Keenan, at the Australian Parliament.

The AIC has assisted the Committee with the development of their program, and I look forward to the release of the Inquiry findings in due course and its recommendations for actions to counteract the problems arising from the upsurge in methamphetamine use.

Transcripts and presentations around these hearings will be made public with the release of the committee report.

Dr Adam Tomison,
AIC Director

Video-link evidence from Professor Ernesto Savona from the Joint Research Centre On Trans-national Crime, University of Milan and University of Trento

Visiting Members of Victorian Parliament’s Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee (from left) Mr Johan Scheffer MLC, Mr David Southwick MLA, AIC Director Dr Adam Tomison, and Committee Chair Mr Simon Ramsay MLC.

Posted: 17 February 2014 | | | | | |