Page 3418 - Week 10 - Thursday, 20 October 2022

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following the last private member’s bill that Mr Pettersson brought forward in relation to drugs of dependence, the cannabis bill. Mr Hanson claimed during that debate that the sky would fall in if we passed that bill. He claimed that Canberra would become the drug tourist capital for cannabis. That has not happened.

Everything that Mr Hanson predicted would go wrong when that passed and was implemented, has not come to pass. And in Portugal we have seen the same. The predicted drug tourism did not materialise, nor did a predicted surge in medical costs. The main outcomes of the changes in Portugal have been lower rates of teenage drug use, fewer HIV infections and an increase in drug seizures by law enforcement. Those have been the main outcomes in Portugal. So, the problem for Mr Hanson is that, when this bill passes and it is implemented from October 2023, he will be going to the election trying to make an argument that is absolutely unsupported—not only by the evidence from other jurisdictions but from people’s lived experience here in the ACT.

I will finish on this point. Mr Pettersson has already quoted a number of former senior police officials and Mick Palmer, the former AFP commissioner, who has supported this move in the ACT. An earlier quote from Mr Palmer was that options to address the current failure in our approach to drugs could include “assessing and identifying the options and staged pathways towards decriminalisation, first of cannabis”—done!—“and, if successful”—tick!—“other drugs”. He said he believed the decriminalisation of the possession of small amounts of cannabis in other jurisdictions has worked well and “should be extended”. I am quoting here from an article in the Brisbane Times. Former AFP commissioner Mick Palmer said:

Removing criminal penalties for drug use and possession of small quantities would enable police to focus on drug traffickers while drug abuse is treated more effectively as a health and social issue.

That is what we are seeking to achieve with this bill and the government amendments. I commend this bill and oppose Mr Hanson’s amendment.

Question put:

That Mr Hanson’s amendment be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 6

Noes 13

Mr Cain

Mr Barr

Ms Orr

Ms Castley

Ms Berry

Dr Paterson

Mr Hanson

Mr Braddock

Mr Pettersson

Mrs Kikkert

Ms Burch

Mr Rattenbury

Mr Milligan

Ms Cheyne

Mr Steel

Mr Parton

Ms Clay

Ms Stephen-Smith

Mr Davis

Question resolved in the negative.

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