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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 November 2021) . . Page.. 3820 ..


bill if the Assembly passed it. It also raises the question of whether this would create significant risk or uncertainty for ACT Policing. The committee received a wide range of evidence on this point. The explanatory memorandum to the bill does not address this issue directly and instead focuses on trafficking.

Canberra Community Law believed that there was sufficient uncertainty that the ACT government should sign a memorandum of understanding with the commonwealth government to clarify that persons who commit a simple drug offence will not be charged under the Criminal Code.

The committee questioned the AFP Association about whether it had any concerns for its members that the commonwealth might prosecute its offences despite ACT legislation. It said:

… it does leave our members in a position where they are conflicted and potentially open to scrutiny from internal affairs, ACLEI and the other bodies that do scrutinise them.

The AFP Association also said:

… we will be lobbying the Commonwealth to act because a lot of those drugs, we would say, are not socially acceptable … if you question the average punter … about whether they would find it acceptable that someone was carrying around X amount … of ice … the majority of people would say … that it is not acceptable.

The amendments would conflict with the commonwealth Criminal Code. It is fundamental to the rule of law that a jurisdiction should not enact legislation that is inconsistent with laws of a superior jurisdiction. (Time expired.)

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (10.40): I would like to speak in reflection on the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill 2021 inquiry that the committee has just concluded. My colleague Mr Pettersson tabled his bill and it was then referred to a select committee, of which I was deputy chair. The bill proposes to decriminalise small quantities of 11 currently prohibited substances, considered to be drugs of dependence, for personal use. I am proud to stand here and state that I fully support recommendation 1 of this report—that the Assembly should pass this amendment bill.

I would like to begin by highlighting the comments provided during public hearings, particularly by the Uniting Church. Their submission really struck me because it explicitly talks about treating people who experience drug dependency with dignity, recognising the worth of every person and treating all with respect. I quote Reverend Simon Hansford and Ms Emma Maiden of the Uniting Church:

The challenge for us in this issue is that so much criminality and blame and accusation, is part of this issue. We want to argue that the best way of treating this is as a social and health issue and not as a criminal one. We are arguing, too, that restoration of those who are drug dependent, of caring for them and providing them with connection and community is at the heart of the church’s understanding of the gospel and who they are …


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