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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1993 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 13 May 1993) . . Page.. 1397 ..


Thursday, 13 May 1993

_____________________

MADAM SPEAKER (Ms McRae) took the chair at 10.30 am and read the prayer.

LEAVE OF ABSENCE TO MEMBER

Motion (by Mr Berry) agreed to:

That leave of absence from 15 to 31 May 1993 inclusive be given to Mr Connolly.

DRUGS OF DEPENDENCE (AMENDMENT) BILL (NO. 3) 1993

MR BERRY (Minister for Health, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Sport) (10.32): I present the Drugs of Dependence (Amendment) Bill (No. 3) 1993.

Title read by Clerk.

MR BERRY: Madam Speaker, I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

In 1992 two Bills were passed by this Assembly amending the Drugs of Dependence Act to provide for the expansion of the methadone program. The amendments permitted the provision of methadone in facilities other than the central methadone clinic based at Woden Valley Hospital. With the implementation of the expanded program, it has become obvious that some further minor amendments to the Drugs of Dependence Act are required to facilitate the effective and efficient operation of the program. Mrs Carnell will remember that in the estimates process I said, "I will look at that and if there is something wrong I will fix it", and I am fixing it.

The use of methadone in treating opioid addiction has been well accepted over a number of years. The program provides a real alternative to heroin addiction and the lifestyle which such addiction imposes on users, their families and friends, and the community in general. Drug related crime is a major concern to the community and to this Government. An accessible methadone program can be an important motivation for people to move out of the cycle of crime and addiction to illicit drugs. The real risk of the spread of HIV infection and AIDS among heroin addicts is a powerful motivation for both the community and the Government to ensure an accessible methadone program.

The amendments passed by this Assembly in 1992 laid the groundwork for the expansion of the program. Client places have expanded to 241 from 86 places in August 1991. This expansion will continue to a projected target of 350 places by the middle of this year. However, the supply and administration of methadone is subject to a number of restrictions under the current provisions of the Drugs of Dependence Act. As we gain practical knowledge about how a methadone


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