Page 3483 - Week 10 - Thursday, 20 October 2022
believe that they would not be subject to any criminal penalty when carrying, for example, four grams of heroin. While this would be true under ACT law if the Greens’ amendments are passed and the legislation passed the Assembly, under commonwealth law, the person could be charged with drug trafficking and face a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or a 2,000-penalty unit fine, currently more than $440,000.
So let me be clear: this bill does not affect ACT policing’s discretion to charge individuals in possession of illicit drugs under the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995—and their trafficable amounts are much lower than the ACT amounts—and the AFP has the discretion to make a decision to charge someone under that commonwealth law. So, in effect, the Greens’ amendments could have the impact of recriminalising drug possession, with far higher penalties than currently exist under ACT law.
I recognise that Mr Davis has put these amendments forward in good faith in response to some of the advocates that have been very loud in their advocacy on this matter, but these amendments do not pass the commonsense test. They are not consistent with the way that we have treated cannabis, they are not consistent with the expectations of the ACT community and they are not consistent with the evidence that we have from other jurisdictions.
When you look at Portugal, for example, the proposed small quantity amounts for the ACT, in the government’s amendments and indeed in the private member’s bill, are very close to the personal possession quantity in the Portuguese legislation as well. This is kind of what is accepted and what the evidence says is the appropriate amount to consider for small amounts for person use.
A previous amendment from the government that we have already passed reduces the penalties associated with a possession offence. As Minister Rattenbury said, it does not stop police from charging with a trafficking offence if they can make the case for that and have the additional evidence of that.
So we have recognised that the impact of being charged with personal possession should not be as significant as it is now. But we do not want to recriminalise individuals under commonwealth law while giving them a false impression that they might not be criminalised, and we certainly do not want to encourage and enable supply, because we are committed to supply reductions. The government’s amendments are evidence-based, measurable, measured, realisable and implementable and they were developed in close consultation with experts, including policing.
MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (5.20): I rise today to speak on these amendments because I believe the area they go to is central to the good operation of the simple drug offence notice. I do not support Mr Davis’s amendments to quantities, and I would like to explain to members why that is the case.
I believe that I spoke to many of the same stakeholders that have advocated this position as Mr Davis has, and I do understand their logic. There are people that use drugs, that possess quantities of drugs to that scale for their own use. For some people it is a normal and, I believe, understandable thing to wish to minimise their interaction