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Plibersek needs 'reality check' on synthetic drugs: Xenophon

A spokesperson for Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said it was up to the states to prohibit the drugs using “relevant legislation”.
A spokesperson for Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said it was up to the states to prohibit the drugs using “relevant legislation”. Chris Ison

INDEPENDENT Senator Nick Xenophon says Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek needs a "reality check" after she resisted initial calls for a nationwide ban on synthetic drugs.

The New South Wales and Victorian governments called for federal intervention after the death last week of a teenager who jumped from a balcony during a synthetic drug-induced hallucination.

But a spokesperson for Ms Plibersek said it was up to the states to prohibit the drugs using "relevant legislation".

Senator Xenophon said Ms Plibersek was ignoring the Commonwealth's Constitutional powers to ban the drugs, 18 of which are now subject to a 90-day ban in NSW.

"The Federal Health Minister is not only abdicating the leadership role the Commonwealth must play in this, she is also contradicting the Assistant Treasurer who says a federal ban is possible through the ACCC," Senator Xenophon said.

"For the Health Minister to say this is for the states to sort out ignores the Constitutional powers to outlaw these drugs including corporation, telecommunications, therapeutic goods and customs powers."

NSW Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts said the temporary ban, announced on Sunday, was all he could do without Commonwealth intervention.

Mr Roberts urged the Federal Government to work with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to make the ban permanent across all jurisdictions as well as calling for Customs to be given the powers to stop the drugs getting into the country.

"The fact that the NSW Minister for Fair Trading says the ban can only be temporary without the Federal Government being involved cries out for Federal Government action," Senator Xenophon said.

Senator Xenophon will next week move a resolution in calling on the Federal Government to intervene, and if that fails to spark action he will have legislation drafted to close the loophole.

Manufacturers of the drugs get around existing illegal drug classifications by changing the ingredients.

Retailers have until Tuesday to comply with the NSW ban or risk fines of up to $1.1 million.

Topics:  nick xenophon synthetic drugs tanya plibersek



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