Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

COLD AS ICE 'Idea of a War on Drugs Ludicrous'; Frosty Reception for Portrayal of Lismore in ABC Doco Ice Wars

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

COLD AS ICE 'Idea of a War on Drugs Ludicrous'; Frosty Reception for Portrayal of Lismore in ABC Doco Ice Wars

Article excerpt

Byline: Claudia Jambor claudia.jambor@northernstar.com.au

EXPOSURE of the Northern Rivers' fight against the drug ice broadcast into living rooms nationwide this week has created a frosty tension within the community.

Lismore-based author Eben Venter took to Facebook to criticise his town's portrayal in Tuesday night's ABC program Ice Wars.

Mr Venter said the show "slandered" the regional city by implying "it is being taken over by ice" and targeted "poor, vulnerable people".

"At one point Lismore was purposefully portrayed as godforsaken and post-apocalyptic, like a scene from the movie Snowtown," Mr Venter said.

The confronting episode triggered varied responses on social media, with one Facebook user saying ice makes "heroin look like a play drug".

Lismore mayor Issac Smith criticised the show over its portrayal of his city.

"The ice issue is a national issue, not just a Lismore issue," Cr Smith said. "The common comment I had was 'this isn't the Lismore I know'."

While Cr Smith said documentaries were useful to uncover different issues, he was concerned Lismore's ice woes was painted as a dominant problem that overshadowed the city's many positive attributes.

Mr Venter said he didn't deny there were serious problems surrounding methamphetamine use but questioned the show's facts.

And he wasn't the only one. National Drug Research Institute Professor Nicole Lee, of Curtin University, published a scathing article that downplayed the idea of the "ice epidemic" and said it was not "tearing apart the fabric of our community".

Prof Lee referenced "the best data available" in her piece for The Conversation, saying "2.1% of Australians over 14 years have used methamphetamine in the last year and about half of those prefer ice over speed".

While it might seem like a small percentage, Lismore-based Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay regularly confronts the faces behind the figures.

"The vast majority of people don't have to deal with it, they don't see it," Det Insp Lindsay said.

The Richmond Local Area Command crime manager, who featured in Tuesday night's episode, respected Prof Lee's opinion but said frontline agencies who confronted ice users daily "have a different point of view". …

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