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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 4 Hansard (17 March) . . Page.. 1175..


MR STANHOPE: I do not believe that we have put in place any timetable for reviewing or assessing. That is not to say that I do not think that it is important. It is an issue that I would be prepared to pursue, Dr Foskey, and report back to you on. I believe that it is important that we do closely monitor the impact of these changes. But we need to do that in relation to the environment of organised crime. I do not believe that there is a more exploitative criminal than one who traffics in drugs. They are devious, they are calculating, they are vicious and they are a very difficult group of criminals for communities particularly, including police forces, to deal with.

As I say, some of the steps taken in this reform package are designed to deal with gaps in the law which have been identified by criminals and which have been exploited ruthlessly by criminals. They go to the amendments and the changes we made to the law in relation to the accumulation of precursors. It is intriguing the lengths to which drug traffickers and drug sellers will go, piling up thousands of packets of patent medicines and extracting from those patent medicines the precursors used in the manufacture of amphetamines, ecstasy and other drugs.

That was not an offence. We did not have an offence that allowed us to deal with those people whom police discovered had in their garages, in the boots of their cars or in their houses thousands of packets of patent medicine that they bought across the counter. They just went to the chemist or Woolworths and bought it and there was no offence in that. If asked why they had 5,000 packets of a patent medicine, they could say that they just decided to collect 5,000 packets of it. There was no offence in the law for somebody that you knew to be involved or suspected to be involved who just happened to have in their possession thousands upon thousands of packets of patent drugs purchased legally from Woolworths or elsewhere for the obvious intent of extracting drugs that would then be used for the manufacture of, say, amphetamines.

That was a gap that we closed. We will continue to respond in this way to abuse, and I think that that was an abuse. There was that abuse that we closed. There was an abuse in relation to the use of children in the selling of drugs that we sought to close. There was an abuse in relation to the quite deliberate marshalling of numbers of residents to grow in their premises with hydroponic equipment five plants each, because the legislation simply said five plants. It did not say how big, how wide or what weight of marijuana could be grown. It is flawed and it has been seen to be flawed. The police advised us of that. So those decisions were taken.

I am happy to assure you that it is important that we monitor the impact of the law, particularly the impact on young people, but I do not apologise for the steps that we have taken and I do not believe that we will be monitoring some of the other reforms that are part of the package.

Rural fire services-radio network

MR PRATT: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Mr Hargreaves. Minister, yesterday in question time, in relation to the white alert call made about the Simpson's Hill fire, you said, "the particular radio channel was not turned off. I repeat: it was not turned off."Why wasn't this call-transmitted as


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