Uniting NSW wants Premier to announce date for promised drug summit

Furious drug reform advocates have sent a terse message to NSW Premier Chris Minns after months of radio silence on the date of a long-promised drugs summit.

On Monday afternoon, ahead of Tuesday’s state budget, Uniting NSW displayed a banner on St Stephen’s Church in Macquarie St, opposite parliament.

The large purple sign read: “Premier, you promised. Drug Summit Now.”

Uniting NSW ACT general manager of external relations and advocacy Emma Maiden said the organization was exasperated that no date had been set, with government reform on hold until after the summit.

The organization is calling for a five-day summit like the one held by the Carr government in 1999, attended by law enforcement, government officials, community groups and people with lived experience.

“The drug summit is the process that the government has told us we need to undertake to get any kind of substantive change,” Maiden said.

“We are willing to lean into this and be part of the process. But we can’t do that until we have an appointment.

“When you make a promise you keep it. By delaying the summit, you are not prioritizing an issue that impacts so many members of the community.

“It does not provide the potential to enact bipartisan legislation and implement agreed-upon reforms.”

To date, the government has committed just $1.8 million towards the establishment of a summit, with the hope that it will take place later this year.

NSW Greens spokeswoman for drug law reform Cate Faehrmann said delayed action was putting lives at risk.

“Since being elected, the Minns government has rejected any serious drug reform, dangling the carrot of a drug summit that never seems to arrive,” he said.

“Following the Ice investigation, methamphetamine use continues to increase as those on the front line cry out for support with no answers in sight.

“Urgent interventions are needed. Instead, we have a Premier whose only action in this area is to kick the can down the road to a drugs summit that everyone now fears will never take place.”

While Minns declined to address Ms Maiden’s specific concerns about the budget, he said Tuesday’s budget will prioritize easing cost-of-living pressures for families.

“The biggest issue families are facing right now is the cost of living,” he said.

“This must be the government’s aim. When we have more to say about the drug summit we will announce it in due course.”

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