Zero tolerance. Fuck Yeah!

For far too long now, I have been promoting harm minimisation as the only model for intervention when dealing with a person living with addiction.

NO more. Inspired by Bronwyn Bishop, who chaired The winnable war on drugs: The impact of illicit drug use on families, and throughout the hearings in April and culminating in the findings, shows us how to disregard, disrespect and dismiss not only only the person, but also the data advising of harm minimisation, I have embraced zero tolerance. Zero tolerance is just as it sounds- no excuses ever!

The very first drug addict I will be demanding zero tolerance towards is John Winston HoWARd. It is my professional opinion that our PM has a psychological addiction to power (P). For the first eleven years there was a regular supply of his drug of choice and no one really got in the way of his daily fix. Kim Beazley (twice), Simon Crean and Mark Latham were all no threat to HoWARd’s regular dose of P, but then came Kevin Rudd- Kevin07, he threatened to disrupt Johnnie’s supply of the big P with poll after poll screaming that the supply of P is slipping and will inevitably end.

Initially we only saw short term lapses, then the long-term effects of Johnnie’s addiction were becoming increasingly obvious. Two Ministers felt they had to have an intervention and confront Johnnie’s P use habit. Alas, while they were concerned, no one could actually make the call to have him placed in a detox facility, where the only option is total abstinence. I observed all the classic emotions when faced with the threat of losing a drug of choice. I saw denial:

‘’I hope people understand from observing me in 30-odd years of public life that I have never run from a fight before and I don’t intend to do so now.’’ -I will get my P Johnnie.


“Well Kerry, what matters is the party has decided that they want me to stay. I want to stay. I’ve got a lot of fight in me, there’s a lot of things I want to do, and I have resolved very much to fight this election campaign like none other. And there are a lot of things I want to accomplish, and that’s why I’m staying in politics. […] I love politics and I’m still determined to try and do the best thing for this country, and I’m still determined to give my party and the Coalition a real chance of winning what will be a very difficult election.” – I may lose my P Johnnie.

and finally the classic addicts ‘use or die’ bargaining:

“… but look, can I just say something about it. I’ve given a lot of thought to this, and my position to the next election, and this is what I’ll be telling the Australian people is, is very simple. If the Australian people are good enough and kind enough to re-elect me again, there are a lot of things I want to do, and I would want to approach those things with enormous energy.”- Please let me have my P Johnnie.

Johnnie displayed and continues to display, classic withdrawal anxiety symptoms as he faces the real possibility of abrupt discontinuation of his P.

As said, inspired by Bronwyn Bishop and her total lack of compassion or civility to anyone with an opposing view, I propose that we not give Johnnie another chance, we instead place him as far away from the big P as possible and never, ever let him get his Power back.

In the spirit of zero tolerance and with thanks to the words of the Chair:

Johnnie would have to make a case for keeping his seat, or it would be taken away. He would not be able to get the seat back even if he became drug free at a later stage. The electorate would benefit from being given “a real chance at life”, instead of living under a system with a leader who only wanted them to get a Power fix to feed his addiction.


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12 Responses to “Zero tolerance. Fuck Yeah!”

  1. Tamsin Says:

    Ahhhh…. agree with all – except that it’s spelt Bronwyn. 😉

  2. Suki Says:

    Oops thanks Tamsin, error fixed.

  3. Bronwyn Fishwife Says:

    It’s about votes…

    The main point of this report is not the adoption issue but pushing the government’s “Tough on Drugs” policy before an election. Adoption is only part of the overall report. It mainly focuses on getting rid of the “Harm Minismisation” policy for John Howard’s “Zero Tolerance” approach. How politicians can use such important issues to bolster support for an election is disgusting.

    A group of out-of-touch politicians led by Bronwyn Bishop wanting to make a health issue into a law & order/moral argument is so out of date as most of the world is pushing into brave new territories of progressive drug reform. I read this report last night and was shocked to see these paper pushers bagging health experts from all over the world for political gain.

    Most of the recommendations have been tried dozens of times before in various forms all over the world. They didn’t work then and won’t work now. We need to give these decisions to specialists who are not influenced by politics, religion or money. After all, it is about people’s lives, not votes.

    Give it to ’em Suki!

    Great article.

  4. Suki Says:

    When I read the document, I was incredulous.

    Not only did the Chair- Bronwyn Bishop treat Dr Wodak with outright contempt and disdain, but she also condoned Alan Cadman doing it.

    Bronwyn was only marginally better when Reverend Bill Crews and Tony Trimmingham advocated harm minimisation.

    It was clear even back then in April, that the outcome of the report was set and all evidence against zero tolerance would be dismissed and the person delivering it would either be shutdown or have to overcome ad hominem attacks, or both!


    I will be voting HoWARd out!

  5. joe2 Says:

    Well said, Suki. The Power addiction is most disturbing. There is also his dangerous ‘workaholism’. Whenever a poll has gone against him, the patient , has promised to “work harder”. It must be concluded that he is now working around 21 hours a day.
    Though back to 19, recently, with a Ruppy owned Newspoll false hope.

    Rapid intervention recommended and a suggested course of help below. We here are working on unfortunate outbreak of schadenfreude, as well, and will be taking some time to recover.
    Your etc…

  6. Suki Says:

    His addiction joe2, certainly explains his inability to understand the work/life balance workers advise they are steadily losing under his WorkChoices legislation.

  7. weez Says:

    Suki, the main thing Bishop proved through this cynical political exercise is that she understands neither harm minimisation nor the psychology of humans and drug use. She merely proved that she was driving a party-political barrow, with no intent whatsoever to do anything about drug abuse nor the families such may affect.

    Bishop’s primary conclusion was that children of drug users should be taken into foster care and the users jailed. Jail does not now, nor has it ever cured addiction.

    Bishop’s strident, howling harassment and hectoring of Wodak wouldn’t have been out of place amongst a drunken mob in the cheap seats at a sporting match.

    Bishop’s new word game- using the term ‘harm prevention’ for Howard’s zero-tolerance ‘Tough On Drugs’ scheme, in an effort to create public confusion about as well as dilute and defame harm minimisation, a real drug policy strategy with real science backing it up, does no service to anyone but Bronnie Bishop and the Lieberals.

  8. joe2 Says:

    And so say all of us. I will be voting HoWARd out!

  9. kartar Says:

    I just read the whole 110 page transcript. I am so angry I can’t speak.

    I have a very long and bitter relationship with heroin – it cut a swathe through my friendship group in my 20s – including nearly destroying a woman I cared about very deeply.

    I watched her go through rehab, methadone, bup, the justice and prison systems and an endless cycle of shame, ill health, poverty, homelessness. Watched families get torn apart and lives ruined. Saw lives cut short by OD.

    The one lesson I learnt from that period is that zero tolerance is a joke. It always has been. The only hope we have is to keep people alive long enough to fight back – hope they get the support, care and treatment they need to stop or at least stabilise their habit. Time to get back on their feet and find themselves. Some of them will make it – others won’t. But at least some of them will have SOME hope.

    The only thing that ever came from zero tolerance is dead drug addicts. Not that I think the ‘drug warriors’ really care about that.

  10. weez Says:

    kartar, dead drug addicts are almost assuredly a primary goal of zero-tolerance. This is a well known result of ZT policy, conveniently ignored and kept very quiet by proponents. ZT policy certainly doesn’t stop drug use.

    It’s better known that naltrexone is implicated in numerous OD deaths as a period of drug abstinence increases one’s sensitivity to opiates; a dose that would have been recreational at a time of chronic use becomes fatal after a spell of abstinence.

  11. Suki Says:


    When I read the entire 110 pages I had to break it up into sections with time out in my garden to get through it without exploding with rage and then shame as expert, empathic, caring people were treated so abysmally.

    One of the most painful sections was where Tony Trimmingham spoke of the death of his son and his motivation for supporting harm minimisation, with the Chair responding in a callous and dismissive way… no empathy, no condolence, not even an acknowledgment that someone’s loved son has died- abruptly and tragically.

    Mr Trimmingham—Anyway, I am not here to debate; I am here to talk for families. It is not true that families want their kids to use drugs. When we have drug-using kids, we want to get them off drugs. But the fact is that it is a long haul for many families, and in the meantime—my son, one kilometre away from where an injecting room now stands, died of an overdose. We do not know whether he would have ever used that room, because it was not there then. What we do know is that, if he had made that extra one-kilometre journey, he would still be alive; he would not have died that night anyway. And that is the point of harm minimisation: it is not that we support the fact that our kids are out there using drugs and using clean needles; it is the fact that it buys us that time. When someone dies, there is no comeback. It is not incompatible to have zero tolerance for drugs and support harm minimisation. I can attest to that myself.

    CHAIR—Thank you very much. As we have nobody else, that completes our community statements, which were very beneficial. Thank you very much for coming and giving those
    statements. We will now move back onto the agenda.

  12. kartar Says:


    I read that section with a lot of memories bubbling up. Trimmingham has always been one of the most gentle, thoughtful and reasoned people in this debate – when I lived in Sydney I went to see him speak several times with some of my twelve-stepper crowd. To dismiss his experiences and his loss like that – well it’s obvious that these people feel that drug addiction happens to “other people” and especially “other people’s children” and that as such it’s okay to treat addicts as second-class, devalued and worthless citizens.

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