Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 November 2021) . . Page.. 3823 ..
Further, I would like to point to the federal parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement and their 2018 inquiry into crystal methamphetamine—ice. This was a law enforcement inquiry that brought that lens to it, yet in its final recommendation the committee urged Australian governments to implement its recommendations, stating that improvements can and must be made in addressing methamphetamine use in Australia. In the committee’s opinion, this should be done by shifting the focus on methamphetamine from a law enforcement problem to a health issue within an environment where treatment and support are readily available and without stigmatisation.
This inquiry gives me confidence to stand here today, as a member of the committee and as a member of this Assembly, representing the community of Murrumbidgee and the broader ACT population, strong in the view that this legislation should be supported and passed.
I believe that we should view people experiencing drug dependency in the ACT as experiencing a health issue, and they should be offered support services and treatment accordingly. The benefits of decriminalisation include reduced harm, reduced stigma, reduced trauma, and increased treatment and support services to help provide a path forward.
I wish to thank Mr Pettersson for bringing this legislation to the Assembly. I also want to thank and acknowledge my colleagues Mr Davis and Mr Cain for their role in the committee’s inquiry, as well as everyone who provided submissions and presented during the public hearings. I look forward to the ACT government’s progressive and inclusive approach on this matter.
MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (10.51): I rise as the third member of the Select Committee on the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill 2021. As the ACT Greens spokesperson on health and drug harm reduction, let me say from the outset that the ACT Greens wholeheartedly endorse all of the committee’s recommendations—in particular, that this Assembly resolve to enact the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill 2021.
The war on drugs has failed. Despite the fearmongering and stigma that have flowed from Richard Nixon’s now infamous war on drugs, we know that most drug use is actually recreational and causes little ongoing harm to the individual consuming these substances. The ACT Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Association, ATODA, told us in their submission to this inquiry that 43 per cent of Australians have used drugs. These people are our siblings, parents, colleagues and friends. Statistically, they are the people sitting in this chamber right now. Peter Taylor, a member of the advocacy network Family and Friends for Drug Law Reform, who strongly supports decriminalisation, put this to us in his submission:
The drugs are not evil, taking drugs is not evil—it is young people dying needlessly that is evil. And as a caring, and extremely well-informed electorate, we have to take the very well researched steps to banish this evil.