Page 1925 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022
Adjunct Professor Lee also quotes former police commissioner Mick Palmer. Mr Hanson wanted to talk about the police view on this matter, but the former police commissioner, in 2019, responding to a Queensland inquiry, made some comments. Mick Palmer was Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police from 1994 to 2001, and he said that the current prohibitionist approach to drugs was “badly broken”:
Despite our best endeavours over many years, drugs are as readily available now as they have ever been. Experimentation is probably at an all-time high, with an ever widening array of, increasingly dangerous, drugs available for use; the market is totally unregulated and controlled by Organised Crime figures, and drug trafficking criminals who make huge profits, pay no tax—and who follow no rules other than their own.
Mr Palmer noted, as we do, that he abhorred drug traffickers and the harm they cause, but he was convinced that the current approach was compounding rather than reducing the problem. So Mr Hanson can get on his high horse and claim that the ACT government is ignoring the views of policing, but that is absolutely untrue. All of this work has been done by the ACT Health Directorate in collaboration with ACT Policing to ensure that the amendments that we are making will make the bill more easily enforceable and—to Mr Davis’s earlier point—easier generally for people who use drugs to also understand what the rules are.
And, to Mr Davis’s point, we will be having further conversations with advocates around this matter to clarify these issues in relation to the small amounts and the trafficking amount. One of our proposals is to reduce the maximum penalty for amounts that sit between the small amount, where the SDON would be applicable, and the trafficking amount, which of course is significantly larger than the personal possession amounts proposed in Mr Pettersson’s bill.
The final thing I would draw Mr Hanson’s attention to is an article first posted on 1 June, which says that New South Wales Attorney-General Mark Speakman proposes $400 fines for drug possession instead of prosecution. I recognise that the New South Wales government are currently saying that they are not supporting the decriminalisation of possession, but what they are recognising is that prosecuting people for possession of small amounts of drugs is not an effective response.
Opposition members interjecting—
MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Members.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Criminalising drug use is not an effective response, either for drug users or for community safety. It does not improve community safety, and that is the bottom line. Mr Hanson really needs to go back and have a look at the evidence and maybe talk to his leader about the kind of party that the Canberra Liberals want to present to the Canberra community, because 90 per cent of Canberrans surveyed think that the kinds of approaches that Mr Hanson is talking about are not an appropriate response to drug use. So, Mr Hanson, if you ever want to win an election, you might want to think about the kinds of evidence that you are looking at, have another good look at this and maybe have a conversation with your leader.