Hard News by Russell Brown


The Death of Evidence

I was already feeling grumpy today. Now I'm just plain angry. Simon Power's dismissal out of hand of important proposals in the Law Commission's Review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 says just one thing: that craven political posturing is more important than preventing harm to New Zealanders.

The Law Commission's proposal that some personal drug offences be treated as a health rather than a criminal issue is well considered. It is supported by the New Zealand Drug Foundation. It is based on evidence. And overall, its recommendations are not soft: they include a system for the compulsory detention of some addicts, for their own protection.

But, like reports past, this one was consigned to the bin before it was even released to the public. The problem in drug policy is now exclusively political. And people will die because of that.

This government has, as the Prime Minister noted, an almost unprecedented stock of political capital now. It could have taken bold steps. But I think this week's failure on tax reform and now this cynical sinking of the Law Commission's report have amply demonstrated that it lacks the courage or vision to spend it either wisely or well.

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