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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4360 ..


Although questions remain about the impact of multi-component programs that include sterile needle and syringe access on actual HIV incidence, the report recommends that high-risk countries act now to implement such programs. These programs should include multiple access points and methods of delivery, focus on reducing sexual risks, and actively refer drug users to other services.

I think that shows that, when you are quoting a source of information and when it is being quoted by particular groups, you need to check the actual report and the source of information before you use it because, as this clearly shows, it was selectively quoted. What this report actually says is that it is in favour of needle exchange programs and that, while there are some questions around how the programs operate, high-risk countries should be implementing these as a matter of importance because of the impact they have on the spread of blood-borne viruses and other resultant impacts that they will have in terms of the operation of the prison.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella) (7.43): I would like to put on the record a couple of things. Firstly, when I was in Mr Hanson’s position—as shadow minister—I opposed the installation of needle exchange programs in the prison as well. I actually took the view then that the welfare of the officers was more important than the health of the prisoners—that the security of the officers was a really important thing. I still hold to that view—that that is a very important thing.

But I have to confess that I have changed my position relative to the needle exchange program. I would like to advise the Assembly why. I would also like to talk about some of the things that Mr Hanson was saying earlier on. What we heard was a litany of things that he thinks that Minister Corbell and possibly even I got wrong with the prison in its first year of life.

Hello, if you want to get it right first time, well, mate, you need to be born by immaculate conception to do that, because you cannot do it. We heard a litany of things that went wrong, all the way down to the contract to build the building. What that has to do with the needle exchange program is totally beyond me. It is a completely different subject. All it succeeded in doing for me was show that the argument was a bit shallow and needed padding out a bit.

What Mr Hanson, I think, has missed really in this whole debate is that this is not a corrections issue; this is a health issue. This is actually about people’s health. Now, when I was quizzed about it earlier on, at the time I was the minister for corrections, I said, “I will not talk about a needle exchange trial until the prison is 12 months of age.” I wanted to get the ordinary things ironed out first, and then I thought we would spend about six months to design some sort of a trial. I ceased to be the minister, so I could not actually carry that through. But it was my view that because we had a health facility in the prison divorced from the corrections side of it that showed this government’s commitment to the fact that this is a health issue.

Firstly, I want to applaud Ms Bresnan’s discussion paper. I have not actually had a chance to completely read it, but the fact that it is out there is a terrific idea. I think it is a terrific idea. Let us have people talking about it. What we are actually seeing from those opposite is the normal redneck scaremongering that you would expect. We are


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