Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 20 October 2022) . . Page.. 3409 ..
petition that I sponsored two years ago, and, as the select committee found, between then and now nothing has changed. As Mr Hanson has already explained, the Canberra Liberals are appalled at the process that Labor and the Greens have used to force through radical changes to drug laws without first seeking a mandate. I agree.
Beyond that, I rise today to state that it is a further outrage that Labor and the Greens are willing to make such radical changes without first making sure that the missing services are in place. This is a runaway train, with unsafe speed, due to the loss of operator control by this government. This is not championing it. It is foolish, and all of you who are operating are the runaway train.
This is a slap in the face to those who struggle with addiction and to their families and loved ones. As I said when I tabled the petition last year, when a family member has a dependency on alcohol, tobacco or drugs, this can create fears, worries, tension and even conflicts. In such situations, loving family members can be quite hopeful that the needed help is both available and accessible. Instead, providers of rehabilitation services have publicly spoken out about long waiting lists and the complete inability to meet the demand.
Delays in accessing rehabilitation services can negatively hinder successful treatment. This is true for adults, but it is even more true for our youth. Placing a young person on a very long waiting list often results in a situation that is much more complicated to fix and often too late. Too many of those who signed this petition have personally experienced this tragedy. One family, for example, has a son who struggles with addiction. He has been referred by the court to specialist drug treatment, but he and the family have now been waiting for many months to access this help. Meanwhile, the young man’s situation is deteriorating with each passing week. This is the reality faced every single day in this territory by dozens of adults and young people, their families and those who love them.
Without a doubt, this bill is not what they asked for. The explanatory statement declares that the bill will “support people impacted by drug addiction to access treatment”. Telling people who are languishing on long waiting lists that any portion of this bill will help them to access treatment is a very, very cruel joke. I cannot, in good conscience, commend this bill to the Assembly.
MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (11.16): In closing, I would like to thank all members for their contributions. They have all been insightful. I would like to thank members of the select committee for their hard work. There is nothing quite like being in this chamber and being told you will be stuck on a committee for the next six months. I would also like to thank Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith for her ongoing work in this space.
I do not entirely disagree with a lot of the things the Canberra Liberals have said—that will surprise some people in this place!—but I do need to correct the record because it is disingenuous for people to say that the debate today is a surprise and that this issue was sprung on them. This issue has been considered by this place for a very long time. Not every person in the chamber here today was a member of the last Assembly, but I have a history lesson for those of you who were not. In the last Assembly there was a committee inquiry into youth mental health. It was held during