Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 7 Hansard (10 July) . . Page.. 2410..
MR HIRD (3.00): Mr Speaker, I find it interesting that the former speaker should say it was not in their hands to pass the budget with the safe injecting room. It was in his hands and his colleagues' hands at 12.30 am last Friday week. They had their opportunity.
My stance on safe injecting rooms is well known. I am completely opposed to them. I have argued against them in this place and other places. I have argued that a safe injection room is illegal inasmuch as it is against the law of this great territory to inject illegal narcotics into one's person. The concept of a safe injection room is about the same as the concept of a safe plane crash. It does not exist.
This is not the time for me to go over my beliefs again and again, except to make the point that my party, the Carnell Liberal Party, allowed me to express my personal views. I thank the Chief Minister for that. History and Hansard will show that my views did not convince this parliament. I lost. The decision to proceed with the safe injecting place was passed by a majority in this place-including members opposite and the Green-not necessarily by a majority of those who fully supported the idea but a majority topped up by those in the Labor Party, who were told how to vote by their party machine.
As I said, I did not support the SIP legislation. But I did not become a budget assassin like those opposite and like the Green. I followed the Westminster tradition and accepted that I had been on the losing side of the debate. I therefore accepted that the will of the parliament was that the safe injecting place should proceed and that I should respond accordingly. But what have Labor and the Green done? They voted for the SIP, then in the darkness of the night, in the early hours, they assassinated the whole principle by voting the budget down, by voting supply down.
Why did they vote supply down? Who knows. All I can guess is that there is some opportunity for political grandstanding by those opposite and the Greens. Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke also voted against the budget. I cannot agree with their decision to do that, but at least they were acting to protect a specific principle. I acknowledge that. Labor and Ms Tucker acted only as political buffoons, and the final result has caught them out with their hands in the lolly jar.
As a member of the government, I have been told by Professor Ian Webster, president of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia, that I should share the blame for the proposed denial of the safe injecting place proposal. I would again remind Professor Webster that I did not vote against the budget, nor did my colleagues on this side of the house, including Mr Moore. Maybe Professor Webster should come out of his ivory tower and visit this chamber and see who is sitting where.
A personal viewpoint: I will be glad to see the next election in October 2001 become the opportunity for the people to have their say on this matter. I do not believe it should become a separate issue. The best referendum is the one that takes place on election day. An election is a referendum based on who should govern, and the voters make up their minds based on all of the issues before them.
The member in the hardest position over this issue is Mr Moore. He is the strongest possible supporter of the concept of a safe injecting place. Yet he has recognised that the territory needs to continue to function. His stance is a brave and honourable one. I know that he will continue to fight in defence of his SIPs, just as I know that I will continue to