NZ minister hails meth initiative

Thursday May 30, 2019 Written by Published in National

New Zealand’s police minister Stuart Nash has praised the Cook Islands News initiative in assembling a leadership group to fight the methamphetamine (meth) rise in the country.

 

The newspaper earlier this month launched an investigative campaign dubbed The  Our Meth Menace as part of the initiative.

Along with articles and opinion pieces exposing the problem, CINews aims to assemble a leadership group to ensure they are part of the solution, advising and informing journalists and members of the public on all aspects of the meth problem.

Minister Nash said a leadership group working on the meth issue was important because the problem was not just about the law and order.

This comes as a local lawyer is lobbying politicians and government officials to create a task force to take the lead, but so far his lobbying has fallen on deaf ears.

Nash said: “The police just can’t arrest the way out of this. The thing is, you arrest someone who is a meth addict and throwing them in jail isn’t going to solve the problem.”

“Our prime minister (Jacinda Ardern) announced already that in our Budget which is released on May 31, there will be a number of measures to really increase the mental health and addiction services because we recognise that they are underfunded and if you haven’t got that social infrastructure on the ground then you will never be able to optimise your outcome.

“Putting the different agencies around the same table and agreeing on the issue, identifying the problems and coming up with common solutions is in my view by far the best way to deal with this problem.

“If everyone says this is a police problem, it’s law and order and we don’t want to know about it, then you are working on one part of the problem but you will never get a good solution, so I think that’s (the leadership group) is a fantastic idea.”

CINews publisher John Woods has  said meth was far more than a law and order problem.

“It’s an important health and social challenge. So this group will include community leaders representing law enforcement, youth, church and social responders such as counsellors and medics,” Woods said in an editorial launching the Meth Menace campaign.

“In future issues of this newspaper, recovering meth users and addicts will reveal their stories explaining how they got clean, to offer hope to other users and their families.

“Our aim is to look at all aspects of the meth problem with the overarching objective of providing answers.”

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