Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton has welcomed the establishment a National Ice Action Strategy to tackle the growing scourge of ice (crystal methamphetamine). The first step in developing a National Ice Action Strategy will be the establishment of a National Ice Taskforce. Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash and Minister for Justice Michael Keenan will oversee the Taskforce and lead the government’s response to the ice issue. The Taskforce will be led by Ken Lay APM who was Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police from 2011 until very recently. “Ice use is a growing problem that is hitting our regional and rural communities hard,” Mr Coulton said. “It is a substance that literally destroys people’s minds. It causes psychosis and long term psychological issues, not only ruining individuals’ lives but destroying families, and hurting communities.” The overall purpose of the National Ice Taskforce will be to examine all existing efforts to address ice and identify ways to take a systematic, comprehensive and coordinated approach to education, health and law enforcement. “The fight against the ice epidemic is for everyone governments, law enforcement agencies, health, education, industry, non-government organisations, community leaders, parents, colleagues, teachers and peers. “It is because of this that the Taskforce will consult widely to ensure that all aspects in combating this drug are being addressed,” Mr Coulton said. “Safe and secure communities are prosperous communities, and it is important that the Government responds to community concerns and evidence on the ground that ice is causing widespread devastation. “There is now a concerted effort of Governments at all levels to address this issue, and while initiatives are being rolled out at a local, state and territory level, there is a role for the Commonwealth Government to assist in ensuring these programs are targeted, efficient and effective.” The Taskforce will provide an interim report to the Prime Minister by the middle of this year. The Prime Minister will take the report to the first subsequent meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).