Possibly after having a massive change of heart or possibly just because he wants to try fix his disastrous and embarrassing political legacy, in a surprising turn of events, former Queensland premier Campbell Newman has spent the last week advocating for the legalisation of drugs as a means to combat overdoses, drug fatalities, and addiction as a public health issue.
Speaking to Sky News last week, Campbell said that he believed that the war on drugs had failed, comparing it to Prohibition in the US:
.@CampbellNewman: We have completely lost the war on drugs. The whole policy area is wrong.
I think we have to legalise, regulate, and deal with this as a public health issue. When are we going to get real about this?
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) January 9, 2019
Newman told Sky that illegal drugs are readily accessible but that their lack of regulation means that we have “kids” taking “stuff that’s been made in plastic garbage bins in industrial lots in the outskirts of Melbourne“.
Speaking to the Courier-Mail, Newman said that Australia needs to “have a conversation about decriminalisation or legalisation“, suggesting that we could be taking money spent on law enforcement for drug crime and instead use it for public health campaigns.
Asked today on Sky News whether he believed his government did enough to address the issue, Newman said that governments had been throwing everything they had at the problem — tougher penalties, more resources for police, increased border security — without stopping anything.
.@CampbellNewman has drawn parallels between the US alcohol prohibition in the 1930s and current drug laws, saying government efforts to ‘throw everything at the issue hasn’t stopped anything’.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) January 15, 2019
While it might be very convenient for him to say this now when he can’t do anything about it, I am forced to admit that he has a more realistic handle on the issue than Bill Shorten, who is currently arguing… this:
Bill Shorten telling young people that “drugs aren’t fun” is exactly what’s wrong with drug policy in Australia. https://t.co/Q4iLu6hksV
— Alex Bruce-Smith (@alexbrucesmith) January 15, 2019
Newman’s comments come after a 19-year-old died from a suspected drug overdose at FOMO Festival in Sydney on the weekend, one of a number of high-profile suspected drug-related deaths that have happened in the last month.