Plans for a drug injecting room in the Melbourne CBD must not go ahead while delays continue to plague a long overdue report investigating effects on drug harm and community safety.
Former Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay was asked in July 2020 to lead consultation on a second injecting room, delivering a final report “by the end of 2020”.
Nearly two years later, today the Andrews Labor Government has been forced to admit the report is still years behind schedule, with no firm date for its delivery.
Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy slammed the secrecy.
“Local traders on Degraves Street fear the Government will push ahead with its plans for a second injecting room at the old Yooralla building on Flinders Street without seeing the final recommendations of this report,” Ms Kealy said.
“Labor’s claims that consultation couldn’t take place during lockdown are a weak excuse, given it managed to run online consultations on numerous other projects in the past two years.
“Local traders, police and Melbourne City Council have rejected Labor’s disastrous plan to put its second injecting room on Flinders St, next to the iconic tourist café mecca at Degraves Street.
“They’re right to worry – the first injecting room in Richmond has been a failure, with children at the primary school next door being exposed to traumatic scenes of dead bodies, daily drug abuse and drug crime, but the Labor Government still wants to push ahead with a second site.”
Police and Melbourne City Council have also vehemently opposed the Government’s plans, with Lord Mayor Sally Capp previously confirming residents have “deep concerns regarding negative impacts on the city”.
“Labor is focused on further destroying the CBD’s efforts to recover and rebuild by putting an injecting room at the gateway to Melbourne’s CBD,” Ms Kealy said.
Local traders are right to fear the negative impacts, with the Labor Government still failing to fix dangerous problems at the first injecting room at North Richmond, which is located next door to a primary school.
Despite Labor’s promises of reduced harm and positive outcomes for community amenity, residents say they face daily public instances of drug dealing and injecting. A large quantity of heroin was recently found dropped on the street 150m from the school at school pick-up time.
In May last year, a man was found dead in a park near the school, while children and teachers went into lockdown in the same week after a man wielding a knife entered the school grounds.