'I have used P' confesses Prast

By Carolyne Meng-Yee

Simon Prast. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Simon Prast. Photo / Herald on Sunday

Supercity mayoral candidate Simon Prast has admitted to having used P.

The high-profile actor and director says prohibiting use of the Class A drug is "hypocritical", when people are getting drunk and beating their wives, and the Government is profiting from tobacco sales.

His call to bring methamphetamine laws in line with alcohol and tobacco laws has bought him a fight with anti-drug campaigners, including broadcaster Paul Holmes and former deputy prime minister Jim Anderton.

After initially refusing to answer questions about drug use - his father spent time in Paremoremo prison for importing heroin - Prast disclosed his P use to the Herald on Sunday this week.

"It is something that was becoming an issue but before it became a problem I dealt to it."

Prast, 48, said he began using the drug in 2004 after being made redundant as director of the trouble-plagued Auckland Festival, AK03.

"I dealt with it before it became a problem because, for some people as we have seen, it's highly addictive."

He cited the example of Millie Elder, daughter of broadcaster and columnist Paul Holmes, who has been convicted in connection with methamphetamine possession.

"My heart goes out to that girl. The entire world comes crushing down on this poor waif of a thing.

"That's not justice, that's not a policy - that is hunting the children of a celebrity."

Prast made his name in the 1980s television soap Gloss, before carving out an impressive career including 11 years as artistic director of the Auckland Theatre Company. At present, he appears on TV2's Go Girls.

He said he did not support a "hypocritical" ban on drugs such as P. "I remember when my dad was arrested - there was a moral panic about heroin," he said.

"I am interested in results, not moralistic judgment. Prohibition, to my mind, is not an effective way of dealing with substance abuse.

"When people go 'P, P, P' as they are swigging away on their beers and then beating their wives, this is a kind of hypocrisy. I am not a hypocrite. I walk my talk."

He added: "The Government is taking a cut of the cancer dollar. Tobacco kills more than any illicit drug - and this is a government-sanctioned drug.

"Now, as a smoker, I don't like being treated like a dirty user. So let's get things in perspective."

Holmes, who has campaigned against P, said Prast's remarks were "irresponsible, if not despicable. The notion of decriminalising P is absurd.

"My daughter was not a waif - the drug took her there, and the kind of scum it associates with. It was a hideous experience for all of us.

"Simon Prast has no idea," he added. "For God's sake, he got into it in his 40s. My girl was 15 or 16. If Simon Prast thinks he has even the remotest chance of making a dent in the mayoral campaign, he must still be deluded by his use of P."

Prast's call to change the legal status of P sparked a sharp rebuke from Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton.

"We need more legalised drugs like we need a hole in the head," the Wigram MP and Christchurch mayoral candidate said.

Anderton challenged Prast to campaign for P decriminalisation. "He should stand on that platform and see how many votes he gets. If nothing else, that'll teach him the realities of life."

Auckland City mayor John Banks declined to comment.

- Herald on Sunday

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