Local Member Tackles Drug Problem

Member for South Perth John McGrath has praised the work of the locally-based Esther Foundation in helping to rehabilitate young girls from substance abuse.

Esther House in South Perth provided the backdrop for the launch on Tuesday of the Liberal Party’s policy “Tackling illicit drugs in our community: Law enforcement”.

About 20 girls ranging in age from 14 to 33 were in attendance as Opposition Leader Colin Barnett and Shadow Minister Donna Farragher unveiled the first plank of the Liberal Party’s drugs strategy for the 2008 State Election.

Later the girls told the MPs and a big media contingent of their own personal experiences with drugs. Most said they had started out using cannabis.

Mr Barnett said a liberal Government would repeal Labor’s ‘soft on cannabis legislation’.

“The Liberal Party is realistic about the use of cannabis in Western Australia,” he said.

“We recognise that there should be some room to divert experimental cannabis users into education and treatment. But the Liberal Party believes the on-going tolerance of cannabis provided under Labor’s laws is unacceptable.”

While first time cannabis offenders, juvenile and adult, will be required to attend a mandatory  cannabis education program, the Liberal Party policy will criminalise cannabis possession and cultivation after that (under a new limit for possession of 10g or less); crack down on drug dealers; protect children from endangerment and ban drug use kits.

Mr McGrath, who serves on the board of Esther Foundation, said the organisation deserved to get plenty of support.

“I have first-hand knowledge of the work they have undertaken with hundreds of young women whose lives were heading in the wrong direction,” he said.

“They all agreed that cannabis was the drug that started off their addiction. Now, thanks to the work of Esther Foundation, these young women have a chance to make something of their lives.

“It gives me a great sense of pride that this work is being carried out from a group of rented houses in the electorate of South Perth. But with rents rising the way they are, I’m not sure for how much longer they will be able to keep the houses they are operating from.”

Mr McGrath said he hoped the Esther Foundation will be able to get Government assistance to relocate the program to a more modern facility.

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