Those who support harm reduction and a more humane way of dealing with the drug problem may be pleased with the NSW government’s decision to extend the life of Australia’s first supervised injecting centre.

But in reality the decision, to allow the Kings Cross centre to stay open for another four years represents a failure of political will.

Health Minister, Reba Meagher made it clear in media comment that the government will not even consider opening similar centres in other parts of Sydney or NSW, despite the fact that all the evidence shows the facility is saving lives.

After six years of “trial” mode the evidence is clear.

The lives of addicts are being saved, there has been a dramatic reduction in discarded needles in the area and the centre has steered hundreds of users toward treatment and rehab.

If the trial has succeeded surely the next logical step is to replicate the success in other areas.

Shouldn’t the government be setting up centres in Cabramatta, Redfern and major regional centres like Newcastle and Wollongong?

The fact is that despite just winning another four years in government, the ALP is too gutless to follow through with its own baby and has opted for another pretend extension of the trial period.

As is so often the case Morris Iemma is frozen with fear at what the Daily Terror might say if he bit the bullet and extended this life saving scheme.

So for now the government is stuck – too scared to push forward because the shock jocks will attack them and too scared to close the existing centre because health experts would condemn the decision.

Those voters seeking sound, evidence based health policies may have to look elsewhere.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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