Labor has made an election promise to create a Meth Border Force with 100 officers dedicated to cutting the supply of drugs to Western Australia, but the Liberals have described it as a political stunt.
Under the plan, the mobile team will be deployed to ports and freight facilities, drug transit routes from interstate and will also shut down meth distribution houses, with operational decisions based on intelligence collected by WA Police and federal authorities.
The $60 million Meth Border Force will be funded by savings generated by reducing the number of government agencies and cutting the number of WA’s highest paid bureaucrats.
Labor leader Mark McGowan said WA was the meth capital of the country and probably the world.
“This is an important initiative as part of our comprehensive plan to deal with methamphetamine,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“This drug is killing families, it’s killing communities it’s hurting everyone across our state.
“We need to do more to deal with it because up until now the response has been too weak and it hasn’t been comprehensive enough.”
But Premier Colin Barnett described Labor’s announcement as inconsequential.
“If you’re going to control meth usage in Western Australia you need to take on traffickers and the dealers,” he told reporters.
“We have announced for those people doing that – preying on the vulnerable, causing death, devastation of young lives, crime, tearing families apart – if you’re a dealer or trafficker you will get anywhere between one and 15 years as a minimum mandatory sentence.”
Corrective Services minister Joe Francis added Labor’s announcement “stunk” of a “cheap political stunt”.
“I’ve got absolutely no idea what he thinks he’s going to do with this other than starting his own little mini Mark McGowan navy,” he said.
“It is just a ridiculous waste of taxpayers money. We do all of this already, we do it to a very, very thorough degree.
“The same surveillance and technology and response forces that are used to turn back the boats are used to also intercept drug smuggling boats and operations as well.”