What is the capital of Western Australia?
West Australians are the biggest “ice” users in the country, according to the unprecedented analysis that equates to an anonymous drug test of 14 million Australians.
While the national average of daily meth consumption is about one hit for every 28 people, in Perth it's about one hit per 17 people a day and one hit per 13 people at one undisclosed country town. Four WA wastewater treatment facilities were monitored, three in the metropolitan area.
The frightening scale of the ice epidemic in Australia is exposed in the 60-page report from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, to be released by Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan today.
On a global scale, Australia ranks second behind Slovakia as the biggest users of meth among 18 countries with comparable sewage testing.
WA’s use of the deadly drug equates to more than 1.5 tonnes annually or more than 56 million doses — defined in the report as 0.03g, about a third the size of a typical street hit of 0.1g.
WA's meth scourge
Mr Keenan said the groundbreaking data, the first accurate and evidence-based measure of Australians’ drug taking, would change the way authorities fight the war on ice and “flush out the cooks and dealers”.
“It never ceases to amaze me that people choose to fry their brain with this insidious drug — but they do. While that continues Australia will remain one of the world’s most lucrative markets for international crooks to peddle the poison that is destroying our communities, ” he said.
“We know that proportionally, Australia uses more methamphetamine than almost any other country in the world, and in WA its usage is higher than any other State. The results provide us with the greatest ever insight into what drugs are being consumed and where ... and drive home the message that we cannot simply arrest our way out of this problem — we must tackle the demand for illicit drugs in Australia.”
Samples from 51 sewage treatment plants across Australia were analysed, and 13 legal and illegal drugs covertly tested for, including meth, cocaine, MDMA, oxycodone, fentanyl, tobacco, alcohol and new psychoactive substances. The potent opiod fentanyl, which is up to 100 times stronger than morphine, emerged as the second- highest drug consumed in WA.
West Australians’ use of other stimulant drugs, including cocaine and MDMA, was much lower and fell below the national average.
Alcohol use in WA (1100 standard drinks per 1000 people a day) was below the national average of 1200 drinks, while tobacco use (1800 cigarettes per 100 people a day) was higher than the national average of 1400 cigarettes.
Alcohol and tobacco use were the highest in the Northern Territory.
Sydney snorted more cocaine than anywhere else in Australia with 30 hits a day per 1000 people compared to just two or less hits a day in WA.
ACIC chief executive Chris Dawson said meth was the highest consumed illicit drug in Australia and its use in some areas, including WA, were at historic highs. “Results from our new report show this problem isn’t going away, ” he said.
“An understanding of this behaviour then permits governments to effectively direct resources to priority areas and also to monitor the progress of demand and supply reduction strategies.”
ACIC was granted $3.6 million from the proceeds of crime fund to carry out nine wastewater tests over three years. Mr Keenan refused to reveal where the testing sites were out of fear that it would alert criminals to the research and defeat its purpose.