The Kings Cross Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) on Darlinghurst Road in Sydney provides a sterile environment where users can obtain clean equipment and medical treatment as well as be supervised while using. The MSIC has saved hundreds of lives in the last 5 years, demonstrating its purpose. You can’t offer drug cessation treatment to a dead junkie. There is no evidence to support claims of a ‘honeypot’ effect; KX has been a central point of heroin use in Australia for the last 50 years. The MSIC shifts the problem out of the doorways and footpaths and into the care of medical professionals.
A number of agents, including the NSW Liberal Party and the Kings Cross Merchants Association, have been trying to shut down the MSIC for the last five years, citing loss of trade. Mysteriously, on the night before NSW Liberal Party leader Peter Debnam made a media statement denouncing the MSIC, a large number of uncapped syringes were dumped in a public rubbish bin in The Cross.
The Daily Telegraph says:
THESE are the photographs that shame the so-called “safe” injecting room in Kings Cross – dozens of syringes spilling from a bin in a public street.
At best, the photographs prove critics’ claims that the taxpayer-funded centre is a honeypot that attracts and keeps drug addicts in the area.
At worst, they show that centre staff are exposing the public to potentially deadly blood-tainted needles by showing no care in their disposal
MSIC manager Dr Ingrid van Beek inspected the syringes and commented:
“It would appear likely to be a stunt,” Dr van Beek said.
“None of the many syringes had actually been used. They had been taken out of their packets, the caps were removed, and they were strewn on top of a garbage bin.
“There were no traces of blood or drugs in any of the syringes. They were most certainly not syringes used by drug users.
“They were also not the brand of syringes distributed in this area.”
Trade is certainly down in KX as evidenced by the number of empty shopfronts along Darlinghurst Road of late. However, in my conversations with folk who once went to The Cross for a bit of horseplay, it’s not the junkies keeping customers away- it’s the police sniffer dogs being used in pubs, restaurants and clubs. People are afraid of getting sniffed, even if they were merely in the vicinity of someone smoking some pot, if not doing so themselves.
KX has long been known as Sydney’s vice central, be it sex, drug or drink- and has built its commercial reputation on such for decades. It’s no surprise that when draconian policing is applied, the party atmosphere fairly well croaks. The KX Merchants Association can’t have it both ways.
Regardless, the success of commercial trade in a tiny Australian suburb will never morally trump putting injecting drug users into the care of medical professionals. Worse, dirty media charades definitely don’t help prove the case for closure of the MSIC.
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