Anger at new laws to target drugs through post and regional roads

Anger at new laws to target drugs through post and regional roads

THE State Government is introducing new legislation it hopes will help disrupt the supply of methamphetamine into WA.

Deputy Premier and Police Minister Liza Harvey said the new laws would make it easier for WA Police to target and detect meth being distributed through the post and regional roads.

Mrs Harvey said under the proposed laws, a road suspected of being a drug transit route could be declared a search area for a limited time by a senior police officer, allowing police to search any vehicle travelling through it.

“Meth is rarely manufactured in WA since this Government cracked down on backyard laboratories.

“However, we believe an amount of meth and other drugs are being transported through WA undetected because WA Police must build a case of reasonable suspicion for every individual vehicle before they can search them,” Mrs Harvey said.

“The new laws mean police have to have a reasonable suspicion the road network, such as interstate border crossings or roads into remote communities, are being used by drug traffickers.”

The minister said the legislation also targeted freight and courier distribution facilities.

“A senior officer will be able to authorise the search of a freight or courier distribution facility for a maximum period of 24 hours. But officers could only open individual packages once they have a reasonable suspicion of drugs,” Mrs Harvey said.

She said the Government had consulted with major freight and courier companies, who strongly supported the legislation.

“The initial searches on |vehicles and freight facilities could include officers, drug detection dogs and electronic equipment,” she said.

“If these methods result in a reasonable suspicion that drugs are present, further searches, such as opening packaging, could then occur.”

The WA Police Union is concerned the new laws will put police officers at risk.

WAPU president George Tilbury said despite being a major stakeholder in police-related issues, the union was not consulted about the new laws.

“We are pleased the transport industry was consulted, but disappointed the same courtesy was not extended to the police union by the State Government or WA Police, considering our members are the ones expected to enforce these new laws,” Mr Tilbury said.

“I do not want to see two police officers in the middle of nowhere searching a vehicle suspected of carrying drugs and potentially weapons without the support of other officers nearby. That is simply a recipe for disaster.”

Mr Tilbury said he would discuss the matter during his next meeting with Mrs Harvey.