Commissioner Gallop in The Sydney Morning Herald: Former WA premier Geoff Gallop appointed to drug reform think tank

Read original article in The Sydney Morning Herald

Former West Australian premier Geoff Gallop says he will be “knocking on the door of governments” after becoming the first Australian to join other world leaders on the panel of an international think tank on drug reform.

Dr Gallop, an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney, has been appointed to the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, former East Timor president Jose Ramos-Horta, and entrepreneur Richard Branson among its membership.

Dr Gallop, who as WA Labor leader decriminalised cannabis possession for personal use in 2004 – a move that was later repealed – said he would use the role to press for the case for decriminalisation of drug use.

He said he would be seeking to liaise with Australia’s various state leaders in promoting the agenda of the commission, an independent body that promotes a policy shift away from the so-called “war on drugs” to instead focus on harm reduction.

“I’ll be making every effort to take the case into the inner sanctums of government,” Dr Gallop said.

He said he had been following the ongoing coronial inquest into the MDMA overdose deaths of six young revellers at NSW music festivals and that there was “overwhelming evidence” in support of pill testing, a harm minimisation measure that has become a major theme of the proceedings.

Dr Gallop said he believed the members of the commission would be “very interested” in the push to have pill testing implemented in Australia.

“It’s not a silver bullet but it certainly manages the risks associated with drug use,” Dr Gallop said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has repeatedly stated her opposition to pill testing, insisting last week that while the state government needed to ensure more lives were not lost at festivals, her strongest message was “don’t take illegal substances”.

Dr Gallop said Ms Berejiklian should question whether the government’s current policies were humane and effective.

“A serious politician concerned about the welfare of his or her people should take the next step to find out what is humane and what is effective,” he said.

Dr Gallop was nominated for the commission by the Uniting Church, whose drug decriminalisation campaign was launched last year by Mr Branson.

He said he would use the appointment to highlight both the drug policy successes and failures in Australia.

Former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss, who chairs the commission, said the body held Dr Gallop in high regard.

“Our Commission could not hope for a better new member from Australia, with deep knowledge of drug control in urban settings and an understanding of state-level policy reform,” she said.