Greg Chipp - No. 1 Senate Candidate in Victoria
I believe that politics is about governing for the greater good – the greatest good for the greatest number. Greg Chipp
Why did I form Drug Law Reform Australia?
Inspired by the experience of my father, Don Chipp, who founded the Australian Democrats in the late 1970s, I formed Drug Law Reform Australia in response to the major parties refusal to address the vitally important issue of drug law reform.
The issue of illegal drugs has been ignored by our politicians who know our current approach is ineffective and even worse – is hurting our young people, while costing tax payers billions of dollars every year to enforce.
But why politics?
Like many ordinary Australians growing up, my family discussed politics at the dinner table where we were encouraged to have an opinion of our own. I remember when I was 16 discussing whether the philosophies of Machiavelli were amoral or immoral with Malcolm Fraser and arguing with Bob Hawke against the merits of mining uranium. Of course I lost both arguments but over the years I learnt some valuable lessons. The main thing Dad taught me about politics is that it is not about being right per se, but about being involved in a process that arrives at the right decision.
We need a new approach.
The political environment of the current parliament is one of negative point scoring, intransigence and acrimonious personal insults, and it is offensive to all people of conscience and an obstacle to good governance. Enough is enough!
We need a new way, a new approach to drug law reform in this country. To achieve that aim we need political parties of conscience; parties that do not only aspire to government but are willing to contribute to the policy debate in parliament and vote for the good of all Australians.
I believe that if rational people are committed to solving the problem and have access to the facts and an honest commitment to resolving differences, then it will be possible to reach a consensus on the vitally important matter of drug law reform in Australia.
Greg can be contacted via email email@example.com or phone on 0417 773372.
Doctor John Sherman - No. 2 Senate Candidate
During this time I have seen the devastating effect of drug dependency on both my patients and their families and I know firsthand the trauma suffered by families when a loved one develops serious and problematic substance use.
In my Footscray clinic, we have 1,000 patients on pharmacotherapy substitute opiate therapies like Methadone or Suboxone and there are approx. 14,000 patients with substance abuse issues in such treatment in Victoria.
I see the problems caused by illegal drugs and am firmly of the belief that the prohibition of drugs makes a bad situation much worse.
Some of the problems I see as exacerbated by prohibition are:
- accidental but entirely preventable overdoses
- crime rates
- Hepatitis C and HIV infections
- Sepsis and other health issues
- Accidents, suicide and disrupted families.
All this would change with a prescribed heroin program for those long term patients, for whom all other treatments have failed. As a doctor, I could then begin to treat the any underlining problems and work with patients to pursue strategies and long term solutions.
I believe that injecting rooms such as the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in Kings Cross Sydney, would not only decrease the rate of overdoses and infections but is a common sense and cost effective option.
I'm running for the Australian Senate, for although these are medical issues, it will take political courage to make real changes that will help protect individuals and their families.
John can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
House of Representative Candidates
Adriana Buccianti - Candidate for Scullin
As a Life Coach and social worker I have been publicly campaigning for drug law reform since my son Daniel died at a music festival in 2012, after taking a drug that wasn't what he thought it was. Over the years I had also lost several friends to heroin overdoses and so I have seen first-hand the devastating ripple effect that this has on their families and friends.
I was aware that Daniel started experimenting with recreational substances when he was about 21, as many young people do - no matter what their parents think or say about it.
Daniel had been convicted twice for possession of a small amount of marijuana and MDMA. As a chef and a disability worker, any conviction of drug use no matter how benign meant that he could no longer work for the department of human services.
In my opinion, drug prohibition only resulted in Daniel having to make choices of employment that he would not otherwise make, due to the effect of his criminal conviction. This punitive action didn't teach Daniel to stop using any drugs and in fact fuelled his insecurities and limited any opportunities for him.
No amount of legal interventions, police presence and or incarnation addresses the fundamental issue that all drugs should be decriminalised and legalized for personal use. Illegal drugs should be taxed, just as alcohol and cigarettes are and manufactured and distributed by reputable laboratories who don't have a vested interest in making large amounts of money with no regard to the user.
My interest in drug law reform started when studying for a 4-year community development degree at RMIT University, and being involved in a needle exchange program to ensure that the Sharps Disposal boxes (yellow boxes) were introduced in bathrooms and areas where needles could be safely and discreetly disposed of.
I had also lived in Sao Paolo, Brazil, for 11 years, where I witnessed the devastating effect of the failed War on Drugs on a society that has a very high incidence of problematic drug use, but where a policy of arbitrary drug law enforcement, rather than effective legal control through decriminalisation and regulation, only makes the problem worse.
So while my decision to be involved in Drug Law Reform Australia is informed by my education and professional experience, it is also strongly based on my personal experience. Because no parent should have to bury their child or feel the constant heartache of losing their child to a drug overdose and knowing it was preventable death.
My interest in being involved in drug law reform is that no parent should have to bury a child with what could easily be a preventable death. No mother should have to feel the constant heartache of burying a child knowing that a drug overdose is preventable.
Adriana can be contacted at email@example.com
Ash Blackwell - Candidate for Wills
Ash Blackwell is running as a candidate for the Drug Law Reform Australia Party in the seat of Wills.
In 2012, a close friend confided in me about how hard it was trying to get help for their teenager who was experiencing some issues around problematic substance use. It was at that time I realised the strict abstinence-based message our society was telling young people was not enough to keep them safe.
"Don't do drugs" - is great - if it works but what if it doesn't work and they do use drugs?
Why wasn't anyone saying anything sensible to help reduce the harms associated with illegal drug use? Surely, 'safer substance use' is as relevant as messages about 'safer sex'?
As an executive member of Drug Law Reform Australia I have been involved with the party since its inception in 2013 and through it have met other passionate reformers, from scientists and clinicians to former police officers and politicians. All of these people have helped deepen my understanding of the ways Prohibition or The War on Drugs harms us all, and the various pathways to reform.
Our current drug policy in Australia makes a complex issue into a tragedy, costing billions of dollars and countless lives and we urgently need drug laws that reflect the evidence, compassion and common sense.
As a crew member with Harm Reduction Victoria's Dancewize program, I have seen how a well-informed, non-judgemental and compassionate approach towards people who use drugs can benefit them and the community. My own experience has taught me that drug use can be positive, negative, tragic or simply mundane.
We are currently witnessing other countries from all around the world successfully enacting positive drug policy law reform and at Drug Law Reform Australia we know it is time for Australia to do the same. To act with courage and conviction and by accepting that responsible drug use is not just possible, but desirable, will serve us much better than pretending our laws can stop people from choosing to take drugs.
A vote for Drug Law Reform Australia this election is a vote for human rights, compassion and common sense.
Ash can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lee Kavanagh - Candidate for Goldstein
Lee Kavanagh is the Drug Law Reform candidate for Goldstein because he understands that individuals will use drugs regardless of their current legal status and has seen the good and bad side of drug use.
For the past six years Lee has been volunteering full time for the online harm reduction organisation – TripSit, whose network comprises of an IRC chat team dedicated to providing 24/7 real-time advice and support to people who use drugs.
My work at TripSit is quite diverse. The TripSit mission is to guide or ‘trip-sit’ people who may be having a hard time while under the influence of drugs. Whether through correct advice on safe dosages, or practical hands on support such as providing a simple water bottle or reassuring chat, the goal ultimately is to help reduce the risk of harm. On the website we feature a comprehensive drug-information wiki and free fact-sheets on all street and party drugs including “smart or designer drugs”.
In my spare time, I research and write about drug use from various perspectives, such as pharmacological, sociological, economic, and political and I encourage people to have an open philosophical discussion about drugs and the heightened risk of harm to young people under Prohibition.
All of my writing is published on my blog drugwarjournalism.wordpress.com
In my role at TripSit, I have come to know and love the diverse range of people who use illegal drugs. Under Prohibition I have seen them suffer, and by joining Drug Law Reform Australia I hope to make a positive difference in their lives.
Lee can be contacted at email@example.com
Courtney Dalton - Candidate for Corangamite
I'm Courtney Dalton and I am running as a Drug Law Reform Party candidate for the seat of Corangamite, Australia.
As a 45-year-old professional builder from the Bellarine Peninsula and Surf-Coast, my passions, other than drug law reform, are surfing, sailing, in fact anything to do with the ocean, my family, playing guitar and writing poetry.
I decided to stand as a representative for the Drug Law Reform Party because I believe that as a society we can do a better job regulating drugs, than ignoring and trying to sweep the issue under the carpet treating drug use as a criminal matter.
Please stop and consider the antiquated and ineffective system of Prohibition. As taxpayers, we have been funding this failed drug war for nearly 50 years. Criminalizing drugs and the people that use them just hasn't worked and the situation is not going to miraculously get better. In reality, Prohibition is causing more harm than good and it's only going to get worse.
Quite simply - we cannot afford to continue trying to arrest our way out of this situation.
There is a better, safer and more humane way forward, not just for the people that use drugs but for the community in general.
Please support us in this fundamentally important reform and vote for Drug Law Reform Australia at this upcoming election.
Courtney can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Levi McKenzie-Kirkbright - Candidate for Melbourne Ports
In 2014 Levi graduated with a Bachelor of Biomedicine, majoring in Neuroscience and is currently working for the Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Melbourne.
"As an Aboriginal man, I have witnessed firsthand the struggles Indigenous Australia has with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. However, I believe that the prohibition of drugs damages Indigenous families and communities further and fails to address the underlying drivers of substance abuse issues within Indigenous Australia: including cross-generational trauma, ongoing historical disenfranchisement, discrimination and segregation.
My views on drug law reform are balanced, considered and informed by both my education and personal experiences.
My biomedical background has equipped me with the skills to fairly and critically evaluate the health effects of all drugs. And while I have experienced drug misuse and abuse in my family, I have also seen the immense damage caused by prohibition. Concluding that punitive punishment for non-violent drug related offences doing more harm than good to the Indigenous community."
Levi can be contacted at email@example.com
Matt Riley - Candidate for Melbourne
"There is not one single genuine reason for cannabis to be prohibited, only prejudice. Prohibition hurts good people. End prohibition." Matt Riley
Matt Riley is an Australian cannabis community activist based in Melbourne.
Founder of Melbourne's Free Cannabis Community and creator of the Melbourne 420 Rallies and Picnics, Matt was the previous Victorian candidate for the Australian HEMP Party in the 2013 Australian federal election.
Specifically describing himself as a "cannabis community activist", Matt does not see himself as a cannabis advocate but rather as an advocate for an end to cannabis prohibition.
Matt's position is that Cannabis should be legally regulated for medicinal and recreational use and that the production and quality controls of all products being sold as "medical Cannabis" would be overseen by a regulatory body such as a "Therapeutic Cannabis Administration". In addition all industrial hemp cultivation restrictions should be removed immediately.
Matt believes that recreational Cannabis should be treated like alcohol and legally available to adults, with licenses made available to larger "groweries" and smaller "micro-groweries". Retail sales would be regulated through adult only "bud shops" or cigarette shops for takeaways. Point of sale photograph ID would be necessary requirement. Amsterdam style licensed "adult only coffee shops" for consumption at point of sale and responsible cannabis use would be encouraged and information displayed in all retail/licensed premises. There should be no limits placed on home grown cannabis for personal consumption.
"Medical cannabis" and "medical cannabis products" retail sales to be available through licenced dispensaries and/or "bud shops" that may have a dispensary located within the store for the sale of "medical cannabis" products.
Matt is joining Drug Law Reform Australia as the candidate for Melbourne in the upcoming Federal election in 2016.
To help Matt free the weed - Vote#1 Matt Riley #DrugLawReformAustralia
Matt can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org