Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Progress fighting drugs in NT Indigenous communities

Joint Media Release with:

  • Warren Snowdon MP, Member for Lingiari

The Australian Government funded Substance Abuse Intelligence Desk (SAID) is working in partnership with the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) to strengthen Indigenous community safety.

The tri-state (NT, SA, WA) operation, which is led by NT police, has made critical arrests, disrupting commercial drug distribution networks from other states into Northern Territory Indigenous communities.

In recent weeks, SAID has intercepted two vehicles on the Stuart Highway and seized 1667 ecstasy tablets and 860 grams of cannabis, with an estimated street value of $130,000.

This follows a significant drug seizure of 137 kilograms of kava and 225 grams of cannabis found in a car on route to Arnhem Land. Three vehicles were also seized.

From January 2006 to December 2008, SAID and police tri-state cross border operations have led to:

  • 874 arrests for criminal offences and alcohol-related crime;
  • 1498 charges;
  • seizure of 45 kg of cannabis;
  • 375 grams of amphetamines; and
  • 894 grams of ecstasy.

This year, 1.67 kilograms of cannabis and 1046 ecstasy tablets, with an estimated street value of almost $100,000 were seized after a search was conducted in an Alice Springs house. A vehicle was also seized.

SAID is an important partner with the NTER, providing specialist policing and intelligence and increasing the capacity of covert and overt operations.

The eight police personnel and four drug detector dogs are based in Alice Springs and Katherine.

They also gather intelligence to identify offenders and supply routes and work with local communities to help them identify suspicious behaviour.

Fighting drug and alcohol abuse is a key strategy of the NTER.

SAID builds on the Australian Government’s other key NTER measures to increase safety in remote communities, including additional police being deployed, safe houses and night patrols.

We are determined to turn around the shocking levels of abuse and neglect in remote NT communities.

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has provided almost $5 million to SAID operations, which have included a focus on the cross border region of Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.