Hon Peter Dunne
Associate Minister of Health
Good afternoon and welcome to the launch of the new National Drug Policy.
I am very pleased to be here with you all today, and it is great to see so many familiar faces in the audience.
Today’s announcement is the culmination of what has been a lengthy process.
Many of you or your organisations are among the 120 individuals and organisations who submitted on the discussion document. Some of you are also signatories to the Wellington Declaration on reshaping New Zealand’s alcohol and other drug policy.
Thank you for your input – it has shaped this Policy, and your ongoing involvement will give life to the Policy and its actions.
A National Drug Policy cannot be contained within just one government portfolio.
This policy reflects a cross-government commitment, and I would therefore like to acknowledge my Ministerial colleagues whose portfolios will also contribute to achieving its vision.
This includes the Ministers of Health, Justice, Education, Social Development, Police, Corrections and Customs.
I would particularly like to acknowledge the Chair of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, Tuari Potiki, and Executive Director Ross Bell. The Foundation has been a long-time advocate of reducing drug harm in New Zealand and has been a valuable source of feedback in the Policy’s development.
Finally, I would like to thank the officials who have overseen the development of the Policy and ensured it reflects a coordinated cross-government approach.
The development of such a significant piece of work, particularly on what can be a challenging issue, is quite an undertaking and brings with it certain challenges – so I thank all involved for their patience and perseverance.
Compassion. Innovation. Proportion.
Three words that I consider to be of the utmost importance when developing drug policy, and three words that are reflected in the contents of this new Policy.
Alcohol and other drug issues are above all health issues, and this Policy recognises that. Alcohol and other drugs have the potential to cause significant harm when misused. About 12% of New Zealanders will develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.
The social cost of alcohol and other drugs is significant.
I’ve been working in the drug policy space for some time, and as we all know there is no quick fix. Help needs to be available for those who need it, interventions need to happen early and the stigma that acts as a barrier to help seeking and recovery needs to be addressed.
We also have to be prepared to challenge traditional approaches and ways of thinking about these issues. Innovation is essential in a world where a new psychoactive drug is discovered every week and the black market has gone digital.
But we are making progress.
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