Page 3408 - Week 10 - Thursday, 20 October 2022

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question to answer. I do not believe there is strong factual evidence to support that conclusion. As I mentioned, the current approach is driven by a harm minimisation policy because we do not want people to be hurt by these things.

In closing, unlike the marijuana legislative scheme, where people can grow their own products—under the current law, that is able to be done—the products that would be in possession of people can only be sourced from criminal activity, which will remain criminal activity, despite the passage of this bill. So this bill should be resisted, and I am glad to see that the Canberra Liberals are doing so. It should not be thought that we are just heartless and want to throw people in jail. No; we are driven because we do not want these things to harm people.

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (11.09): I first wish to provide some background to my comments on this bill. In the second half of 2020 I was approached by a number of families whose loved ones desperately needed to access specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services but who were wasting away and deteriorating on long waiting lists. These Canberra families asked me to sponsor a petition on their behalf. I was glad to do so.

The petition became available in November, both online and in paper form, and attracted 699 signatures over the next two months. I quote directly from the text of the petition. Supporters wanted to draw to the attention of the Assembly that specialist alcohol, tobacco and other drug services could no longer meet demand, with waiting lists growing even longer, and that delays in accessing rehabilitation services may negatively hinder successful treatment. The petition then asked us to call upon the ACT government to conduct a thorough inquiry into the alcohol, tobacco and other drugs service sector to identify current strengths and weaknesses, assess current and future demands, and recommend service and funding models that would better meet people’s needs.

This petition was subsequently referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Community Wellbeing, and an inquiry based on the text of the petition commenced. This inquiry was, however, discontinued when Mr Pettersson introduced the bill that we are debating today. Concerns raised in the petition were then picked up by the select committee that was created to review the bill. The committee’s report, tabled just 11 months ago, perfectly echoes the concerns raised in the petition that I sponsored. The report said:

Evidence received by the Committee revealed that despite high levels of satisfaction with the quality of services provided by the AOD sector, a shortage of funding means that there is a significant lack of availability of these services.

The explanatory statement for Mr Pettersson’s bill states that it will “reduce the burden on our criminal justice system by allowing police to divert drug users at the first point of contact to appropriate services”. Those words have been carefully chosen to sound good on the surface, but the statement foolishly assumes both the existence of appropriate services and ready access to those services.

We know with certainty, however, that these services do not currently exist in some cases and the ones that do exist are overwhelmed. That was the entire point of the

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