Water tests show ACT leads Australia on oxycodone, cocaine and heroin use

Water tests show ACT leads Australia on oxycodone, cocaine and heroin use

Monitoring of waste water in Canberra has revealed some of the highest use of oxycodone, cocaine and heroin consumption in Australia.

Analysis by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission found Canberra had the highest capital city oxycodone consumption levels in August and the capital reported the second consumption levels for cocaine and heroin nationally.

Canberra reported some of the highest oxycodone, cocaine and heroin consumption.

Canberra reported some of the highest oxycodone, cocaine and heroin consumption.Credit:Viki Yemettas

Samples were collected from sewerage and waste waster treatment facilities during April, June and August this year.

A total of 54 wastewater sites were monitored nationally, covering about 61 per cent of Australia's population, or about 14.2 million people.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Findings from the analysis are included in the third report of Australia's National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, set to be released by Justice Minister Michael Keenan on Thursday.

The report found nicotine and alcohol remain the highest consumed substances across all states and territories, while average methylamphetamine consumption in the ACT remained relatively stable.

Average cocaine consumption in the ACT increased while MDMA and oxycodone consumption reduced, but remained higher than the all state Australian average.

Canberra's fentanyl consumption also remained relatively stable in the period while average heroin consumption was the second highest average nationally.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission boss Mike Phelan.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission boss Mike Phelan. Credit:Louie Douvis

The report's data is used to inform sectors including health, education, law enforcement and not-for-profits as part of responses to complex drug use and sale in Australia.

Mr Keenan said law enforcement agencies would use the waste water analysis to "flush out the crooks responsible for this evil trade and protect the communities they are targeting."

"We will continue to use every resource available to protect the safety of our communities, families and frontline service workers who are affected by these insidious drugs," he said.

"The Coalition government will keep up the pressure on those that trade in the misery of illicit drugs.

"We established the National Ice Action Taskforce to provide the government with advice on how we can best respond to Australia's ice scourge."

The federal government is investing $300 million to improve drug treatment, after care programs, education, prevention strategies and community engagement.

"In October this year I announced the largest seizure of meth precursor chemicals in Australian history intercepted on the way into the country - enough to make an estimated $3.6 billion dollars worth of meth," Mr Keenan said.

"This seizure shows just important our co-operation with global partners is to bringing this trade to an end."

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive Mike Phelan said the findings showed dangerous illicit drug activity in the capital.

"The findings present a picture of substance use across the country and reinforce the message that Australia needs a multi-faceted approach to combating the illicit drug trade—it cannot be addressed by law enforcement alone.

"We are committed to providing a strong evidence base to inform policy and operational decisions and will continue working with our partners to understand and respond to the threat and harm caused by illicit drug activity," he said.

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Tom McIlroy is a political reporter for the Financial Review in the federal press gallery at Parliament House.

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