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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 September 1995) . . Page.. 1588 ..


although I can put the Minister on notice that in the estimates process we will be asking some questions about how that is going and how safeguards are going, and in particular some questions about what form of urinalysis and the like is taking place, both at the centre and for people with takeaway doses, to ensure security. Methadone, as we know, is not a safe substance and there have been tragic events occurring as a result of methadone. However, we are not relitigating that now.

The concern has arisen because of an advice from the ACT Government Solicitor that the word “treatment” as it stands in the original legislation may not cover the passage of takeaway doses for consumption elsewhere. I must say that that would not be my interpretation. I would assume that, when I go and see a doctor for treatment, the treatment could well include the whole process from the doctor prescribing the drug, my trotting off to the pharmacist, who dispenses the drug, and my going home and taking the drug. That commonsense language would persuade me, and I think it would probably persuade a court; nevertheless the ACT Government Solicitor has taken a contrary view and the Government, in order to put the matter beyond doubt, brings this legislation forward. As it is correcting a potential technical problem, the Opposition has no quibble with it.

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Minister for Health and Community Care) (4.23), in reply: I appreciate the support of the Opposition on this Bill. As Mr Connolly says, the definition of “treatment” includes the supply of methadone to a person for self-administration at the centre or elsewhere, and this can occur at both public clinics and non-government treatment centres such as pharmacies. So the problem potentially exists at both the government clinics and pharmacies. I believe that it is always better to have legislation in place that makes sure that the law is clear and leaves very little room for reinterpretation, particularly in an area like this. There will always be people who will attempt to interpret it in a different manner, for all sorts of reasons. This amendment Bill provides a clear basis for the legality of the provision of takeaway doses of methadone to be consumed elsewhere as prescribed. I think that is appropriate, and I am pleased that the Assembly supports this.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.


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