One of the big political stories of 2009 was that John Key, our dynamic new super-Prime Minister declared war on P.
Prime Minister John Key is proposing to combat the drug P by banning its main ingredient, pseudoephedrine, from use in over-the-counter cold and flu tablets.
Mr Key said he was surprised by the amount of methamphetamine – known as P – being made from locally obtained pseudoephedrine.
Gangs and drug syndicates often use “pill shoppers” to go from one pharmacy to the next, buying the pseudoephedrine-based tablets and turning them into P.
He said New Zealanders wanted the Government to “show some leadership” on dealing with P.
More money would be provided for treating addicts – a problem area identified by the Herald’s War on P series.
The Government would also address “border issues” that allowed the importing of the drug and its ingredients.
Five years later, quietly, on a public holiday, the Ministry of Health announced (via Radio New Zealand):
Data released by the Ministry of Health shows the use of methamphetamine has not changed in the past four years.
That’s despite 22 percent more convictions for meth-related offences over the same period.
The government launched an action plan in 2009 and made the meth-precursor pseudoephidrine a prescription-only medicine in an attempt to reduce the prevalence of meth.
The ministry’s data shows that in 2014/15 0.9 percent of the population admitted to using meth.
The figures show no difference in prevalence since the ministry started its surveys in 2011.
Data from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2015 also shows the overall availability of meth as reported by frequent drug users has not changed since 2008.
At 0.9 percent the prevalence in New Zealand remains slightly above the global average of 0.7 for use of amphetamine-type substances.
It’s interesting going back to 2009 news stories and seeing (a) how ambitious Key was in terms of his political goals: he was going to build a national cycle-way to boost tourism, turn New Zealand into a financial hub, rid the country of P and stop Japanese whaling with a ‘secret plan’; and (b) how absolutely none of this has come to pass. Compare this to Key’s role as Prime Minister nowadays which consists of talking about the rugby on soft media and stealing a couple of watered-down ideas from Labour and the Greens when the budget rolls around each year.
Was the commitment to mediocrity always there, I wonder? Or did he genuinely want to do stuff at the beginning of his tenure and then fail and lose interest?