Labor votes down drug diversion program reform

 The Weatherill Labor Government has today voted down important reforms to its drug diversion program in Parliament. 

In the 2011-12 year:

  • 339 offenders were diverted to the program on three occasions;
  • 137 persons were diverted to the program on four or more occasions; and,
  • One individual was diverted on 14 occasions.

Liberal Member for Stuart, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, introduced a Private Member’s Bill which would have ensured that an offender could only elect to enter a drug diversion program twice, and that if apprehended a third time will be required to face court for their actions.

These amendments were today voted down by Labor.

“Drug diversion schemes for simple possession of illicit substances are a sensible policy response for first time offenders but are currently being abused by a significant number of serial offenders,” said Mr van Holst Pellekaan.

“This Bill would have meant that, on the third occasion of being caught with illegal drugs, the choice would be taken out of the offender’s hands and put in the hands of the court.

“This Bill would also have meant that those offenders who use the program responsibly and get themselves back on track would not be affected.

“A significant number of offenders are using the existence of drug diversion programs to repeatedly avoid punishment despite being apprehended for drug possession time and again.

“It is unacceptable for people to access drug diversion programs to enable them to avoid facing court for repeated drug offences.

“It is disappointing that Labor didn’t support this Bill, as it would have ensured a greater percentage of individuals entering drug diversion programs are genuinely committed to rehabilitation.”