Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Daily Terror mangles the truth again

Propaganda rag The Daily Telegraph continues its campaign against the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre with a story by one Kelvin Bissett, an "Investigations Editor".

Bissett reported on 5 January:

"THE Kings Cross safe injecting centre made no difference at all to overdose death rates in its local area in its first five years of operation.

"Statistics show death rates from drug overdose in the area around the injecting room are no less than in other areas across NSW.

"The report assessed overdose deaths from heroin, morphine and other opioids in those postcodes - 2010 and 2011 - near the injecting centre and concluded that deaths rates fell at the same rate they did elsewhere in NSW."

Ah, statistics. Simply by combining the two postcodes Bissett creates a convenient distortion that obscures the truth.

Consider other statistics I recently published in The City News -- ones that Bissett also had access to:

" deaths from 2,476 overdoses at the Centre is a pretty good score. Before the MSIC the area averaged two deaths per week. Between four and ten per cent of overdoses elsewhere result in death. Draw your own conclusions."

Simple maths, based on the most conservative measure of 4%, indicates 100 deaths probably averted. 


"There were 355 ambulance call-outs to ODs in the Kings Cross strip alone in one year before the Centre opened. Now, while the heroin drought has reduced ambo callouts generally, they have dropped 80% in the MSIC’s 2011 postcode but only 45% in neighbouring 2010."


"the MSIC... has made 7,500 referrals to treatment facilities."

Parts of 2010 postcode are several suburbs away from the MSIC, and a junkie who is hanging out for the next hit does not walk several suburbs. At their own peril! Edgecliff in 2027 postcode is closer to the centre than much of 2010. Where are the Edgecliff stats, Mr Bissett?

But statistics obscure the human truth. In the words of one worker at the centre: "When someone is on the ground turning blue and you bring them around, you know you’ve saved a life.”

Another fact Bissett and his ilk ignore is that the centre is closed every night so its services are available only half the time.

Bissett needs to do a bit more investigation and a little less reporting.

Pictured: Recent fallout from an illegal injecting den in a Kings Cross back lane -- the sort of thing we would see a lot more of if the MSIC did not exist.


Terry Wright said...

Well done Michael.

Why do these so called journalists try so damn hard to destroy a program that clearly saves lives. It irks me beyond imagination that they play with people's lives for the sake of having their story published.

What sort of human does this?

Anonymous said...

"What sort of human does this?"

... a cynical prick perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Hmm..... No deaths in the centre. Of course not. The ambulances take them to St Vincents hospital- Yes I have witnessed it.

Love to find out the survival stats from St Vinnies.

The Editor said...

Death rate at St Vinnies...

Ambulance callouts from the MSIC are extremely rare. And the total for the area has dropped to 80% of previous levels.

And are you suggesting that no-one could ever self-destruct before the ambulance arrived? I doubt it.

But there may be some marginal truth in your point. I'll be checking.

Anonymous said...

Wow - saw the figures for heroin overdoses in Victoria. Dropped significantly more than that for NSW.

What are they doing with their injecting centre to get these results?

The Editor said...

Victorian figures -- no idea. Perhaps the 'heroin drought' is worse there as it's further away from The Taliban? When the supply of H goes down, many addicts switch to pharmaceutical opiods and the OD rate goes down because they are a legal, regulated product with known dosage. Osama makes no money from them either but the prohibitionists ignore those facts.

Anonymous said...

Sydney Morning Herald

Wendy Frew and Jimmy Thomson

January 10, 2009

A PROPOSAL for a German-themed restaurant above the Kings Cross tunnel that would privatise a public forecourt in front of the Elan apartment tower and move the controversial "poo on sticks" sculpture is a Trojan horse for a giant beer barn, residents charge.

The proposal, put forward by a German restaurant chain believed to be linked to a Sydney family smitten with Munich's beer halls, would significantly expand the existing restaurant and enclose the forecourt with a cement and glass wall, plans lodged with City of Sydney Council show.

German breakfasts, cakes, food plates, wine and beer are to be served at the new restaurant, which would take over all of the space down to the forecourt steps leading to Victoria Street.

Residents in Elan are worried that a venue seating 300 patrons and serving alcohol until as late as 2am at weekends would operate more like a nightclub or beer barn.

"It smells like a club, looks like a club and feels like a club," said one of them, Michael Brown.

"The chap who has the licence to run it appears to be running a 900-patron beer barn in Munich, which gives you an idea of what he might run here.

"I live in the area because I like it but it is almost as if this development is a beachhead for more bars and clubs to encroach residential areas here."

So far, the city has received more than 100 submissions objecting to the proposal. The president of the 2011 Residents Association, Sacha Blumen, said there appeared to be an ever-increasing availability of alcohol in Kings Cross.

"This DA is just part of the trend. When will it stop?" he said.

The Sydney architects Paul Kelly Design, responsible for bars and clubs such as the Mandalay Room at Kings Cross, will design the venue.

The cafe operator Arthur Rouvalis, who owns the forecourt, has approved the development, which he said was proposed by the German restaurant chain Fuchs.

"It is definitely not going to be a nightclub and the operating hours are no more than were already in place," said Mr Rouvalis, adding that an upmarket restaurant would enhance the area.

The licence will be held by Christian Buechsemann, at present the general manager of a 920-seat beer hall in Munich called Der Pschorr.

The fate of Ken Unsworth's sculpture, officially known as Stones Against The Sky, is unclear.

Installed in 1998, the seven metal poles holding up balls supposed to be large rocks have attracted nicknames including dinosaur balls, burnt dim sims on chopsticks, and meat and no veg.

The artist could not be contacted for comment, but several years ago he virtually disowned the work, after his vision was not faithfully executed by the developers.

The Editor said...

Shock, Horror! A German beer barn in Kings Cross! When will it end?

It will end when these venues oversaturate the market and can't pull enough customers to survive. The same old objections are trotted out over every such proposal. The furore over the Springfields venue claimed it would turn the place into one big drunken brawl. In court the magistrate rejected the oversaturation argument as there was no evidence for it. As it turned out, the place went quietly out of business and now sits there sadly with brown paper signs saying "watch this space".

The Elan proposal is made to sound pretty horrible. However the grey open space there at present is nothing but an urban desert. What I would like to see is a real Asian food market there with real street vendors imported from SE Asia that closes up at, say, midnight, unpacks and leaves. It would be a real attraction with a great variety of cheap meals helping to unite Darlinghurst and Kings Cross across that inhospitable grey divide built to serve the commuters of the eastern suburbs.

Instead of the pathetic poo on sticks we need a neon sculpture that tourists will photograph after they do the Coke sign, taking the pics home to show all their friends and thus advertising Sydney as a tourist destination during the coming recession.

Jeez it must have been a quiet news day at the Herald. A real news story would have been "Kings Cross NIMBYs support signs of life" in the vein of "Man bites dog."

Anonymous said...

I agree. The sooner the bloody residents get out of the area the better. Residents should have no rights.

Its the party going tourists and visitors to the area who should be catered for. Fxxx the residents

The Editor said...

Quite a few of the visitors do Fxxx the residents actually, and vice versa. A good time is had, or so I hear.

Who said the residents had no rights? It's just that people who move into an entertainment precinct and expect silence, either expect a global city to have no such precinct or they are idiots.

The whingers are just a small minority of old farts living in the wrong area.

Instead of the same old whinge, let's see some constructive suggestions that not only encourages our entertainment precinct and its diversity but also better manages the fallout to the benefit of residents.

Anonymous said...

The new German beer hall proposed for the poo memorial--interests me.

I would be happy if the Cross became super entertainment --our property would sky rocket---like the village in NY

Anonymous said...

Of course the property prices will go up considerably.

Unfortunately it will put pressure on residents who can least afford it.

Always the case in an emerging entertainment precinct.

Then young urban professionals will move in to the area and put pressure on the long term renters. Its happening around McLeay St.

Area needs to be flushed out and younger people attracted to living here.

Of course when that happens the nature of the area will change yet again.

Anonymous said...

USERS of the Cross City Tunnel have been warned of the risk of needles being dropped by drug addicts who frequent a Sydney suburb directly above.

Syringe signs have been installed along the southbound ramp connecting the tunnel and the Eastern Distributor.

A tunnel spokesman said the signs were erected because an area in Darlinghurst directly above the partially-roofed link had become "a hot spot for injecting".

"Syringes are frequently disposed [of] in this area, causing a potential safety hazard," the spokesman said.

The laneway, between Palmer and Bourke streets, has attracted users since it was created as a result of the tunnel's construction in 2005.

At night, drug users congregate along the dimly lit path to inject drugs including heroin and ice.

They toss the used syringes over a high chain-link security fence or push them through gaps in the barrier, causing them to fall onto the road directly below, posing a potential threat to tunnel workers, motorists with convertible cars or open sunroofs and drivers who have broken down and left their vehicles.

The tunnel spokesman said: "To the knowledge of the current management - which has been in place since the change of ownership in September 2007 - there has never been an incident of needle-stick injury.

"Nonetheless, the signage remains in place in the interests of worker safety and in the rare event that a motorist got out of their car and walked around in the ramp area."

Opposition roads spokesman Andrew Stoner said the situation was "a demonstration of Labor's policy failure on two fronts". He said: "The Cross City Tunnel design has been dogged by controversy from day one and this is yet another indication of the flawed process.

"Second, this proves the Kings Cross injecting rooms are failing to take people off the streets, which is what they're there to do."

Mr Stoner said the priority should be to close the pathway, which would ensure addicts had no opportunity to dispose of needles in a manner which posed such a danger to tunnel users.

"It shouldn't be a huge task. It is, however, essential given the real risk of a needle-stick injury, or worse," he said.

Anonymous said...

Guard drops gun in Kings Cross ATM stand-off


January 13, 2009 - 6:00AM

An armoured van officer intentionally dropped his gun when three offenders robbed an ATM being loaded in Sydney's red-light district.

Police say three men armed with a gun and wearing balaclavas approached three security guards about 9.50pm last night in Kings Cross.

The guards were loading an ATM in Manning Street at the time and one of them drew his gun when the offenders approached.

He dropped his weapon when confronted by one of the robbers who was also carrying a gun.

The robbers made off with a sum of cash and fled in a late model, light blue sedan hatchback that may have been a Subaru Impreza.

No one was injured during the incident.


Anonymous said...

Actually, the various reports of the proposal for the space of the great poo sticks have all, to date, got it all wrong. Of course, one can't blame them to a degree, since a certain gentleman, who shall remain nameless in this blog post has done his knowing, deliberate and untruthful best to whip the residents, press, and anyone else who will listen, into a negative frenzy about the matter.

The true facts of the proposal are for the establishment of a German Weinhaus and Brasserie (not a beer barn, as was suggested in the SMH), which, despite all the unfounded rumours, is being promoted by a serious group, who want to establish something, which will be quite different for Sydney, both in terms of style and as well as in terms of product offered to its patrons.

The actual design proposes extensive landscaping, adding nature to the urban quality of the existing, barren area. Converting the existing hard windy place into a more secure, greener environment with a contemporary aesthetic is one of the more favourable features of the proposal. At the very least, the proposal is an opportunity to enliven a currently 'dead' space.

Could it be that something truly different is coming to The Cross, something will lift it into world class for both residents and visitors alike?

The Editor said...

Check my report on it in The City News 22 Jan. I've interviewed all the stakeholders. They've all refined their message since the Herald article. I suspect the common ground argument and the significance of the scatalogical sculpture will be the excuse Council uses to torpedo the project.

I also suspect I could never afford to patronise the place anyway, although Fuchs wines on the web sell for only 4.5 to 7.0 Euros which is pretty cheap. I bet they'll be $30 a bottle here. 'Prominent lawyers', the promoters, don't go bargain basement in my experience.

Anonymous said...

Bissett is quoting the fictitious 'stats' peddled by opponents of SIS's across the world. Deja DFA Vu every time I see that pathetic association with deaths. That image has at least 10 fits in, what - about one square metre? Pardon my skepticism.

Delighted to see swab wraps, suggesting staph A is being wiped off the site pre taste. Safe injecting is the 1st step, litter reflects both a lack of receptacles and fear of being pinched with a used fit.

Anyway, on another note for a Xmas bonus I had the pleasure of holding my friends hand for 6 1/2 hours in ICU as he struggled with impending death after inoperable endocarditis ultimately led to withdrawal of medicinal BP, O2, norepinephrine and other support. 52 years old. Probably best - he'd stroked initially from a valve clot and would've needed 24 hr care.

Due to compounding psych' issues and what can only be called award winning negligence by his GP and pharmacist, a dyspraxic, disoriented, dribbling and non mobile guy - none of which was in evidence hours before - was just ignored and fed more gear. I know many a client can piss us off, but this was appalling. The only change? A pack of valium to shut him up - all of us knowing he abuses it to the point of losing days anyway. He couldn't identify objects, much less tablets by then; perhaps for the best.

His GP knew damn well what was going on but kept prescribing morph' [up to 1 gram + per day] to someone riddled with absceses/welts and scabs from jambing talc, glue, black iron, magnesium dioxide, chalk, etc, and copious oral bacteria into themselves 10 x per day for over two years [with a loooong history of IV use and oral med injection - how he got on morph initially]. Pharmacist handed over enough morph to knock 5 men, w/out even the promise of a prescription.

So that's a death that wouldn't have occurred with Rx heroin or a SIS. These clients fit into an entirely different category and the hard truth is their conduct gradually exhausts medicos who end up not giving a shit. They reject any and all advice - often violently - and won't consider maintenance because of the stigma captured by Bisset and Co. His reason for not going on maintenance; "I'm no junkie, I'm a pain patient". He was terrified of losing control of his doses. At least "the right message" we send kids is effecting someone.

This chap never washed or cleaned his surroundings - to the point of not flushing his toilet. Incredibly, other addicts lined up for his 'rinses' - dregs in his fit or spoon. On hearing of his death, they attempted to get any filters from his rubbish - by then in large bins with piles of other rubbish, maggots, rotting food. When you fall through the cracks, it's a long way.

Thank goodness we've identified cannabis addicts and banned bongs. Someone might hurt themselves.