Premier grilled after drug injecting room report leak

There is urgency in preventing drug overdoses in the Melbourne CBD despite the Victorian government sitting on supervised injecting room report for almost a year, Premier Jacinta Allan says.

The premier swatted away questions on former Victoria Police boss Ken Lay’s report on Tuesday after some of its contents were leaked.

Mr Lay's report finds the CBD needs a supervised injecting room and identifies three drug hotspots, according to Nine News.

The highlighted areas are from the top of Bourke Street to Swanston Street, the epicentre at Elizabeth and Flinders Streets and around Queen Victoria Market.

Mr Lay handed his report to the state government at the end of May but the premier is refusing to publicly release it without a response.

Ms Allan said there was a "sense of urgency" to dealing with the issue as people die in Melbourne's streets.

"There's urgency and then there’s complexity," she told reporters.

"It's important that we take the time to consider these issues in (their) entirety, both in terms of what's going on in the CBD, across the state, (with) changing drug use and patterns."

Ms Allan refused to say when the government would release the report and whether it detailed three CBD drug use hotspots.

"I'm not going to be drawn on any speculation or any commentary on what may be in or not in the report," Ms Allan said.

"That would do, I think, a great disservice to Ken Lay and others who have worked on this issue."

Jacinta Allan
Jacinta Allan says there is urgency and complexity over the issue of a second injecting room.

The Victorian opposition doesn't support setting up a second injecting room but continues to call for the report's release to give residents and CBD businesses clarity.

"We want people to come back to the CBD, we want people to invest in the CBD," Opposition Leader John Pesutto said.

"Premier Allan, by holding out on announcing her government's response to the Lay report, is adding to that uncertainty and giving off a sense of chaos."

Victorians using injectable drugs would continue to die while Labor refused to act on the report, the Greens said.

"If the new premier actually wants to keep Victorians safer, she needs to stop putting politics ahead of people’s lives and act on the expert advice," the party's drug harm reduction spokesperson Aiv Puglielli said.

Victoria's first injecting room in North Richmond was opened in June 2018, under a trial, and was made permanent in 2023 after a review found it safely managed almost 6000 overdoses and saved 63 lives.

In 2020, then premier Daniel Andrews accepted a recommendation from an independent review panel to establish a second safe injecting room in the CBD.

Cohealth's site on Victoria Street, a short walk from the city's Queen Victoria Market, was originally identified as the government's preferred location.

The government in 2021 confirmed it had bought the former Yooralla building in Flinders Street near Degraves Street, with the prospective site angering some local traders.

It emerged the Salvation Army hub on Bourke Street was also being considered as a potential site in July 2023.

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