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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (22 September) . . Page.. 2036 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

This brings me to the point that this matter could have been handled a lot better. It was hardly a secret that John Howard was a conservative on this issue, so to drag him out in the open and give him a flogging on the matter is not going to make him any more progressive. That is what you tried to do and it has not worked. On the face of it, it looks as though a heroin trial is a thing of the past and that now we have to address the issue of making heroin available by prescription to people on programs and deal with the management of that under academic studies to ensure that we get good results for the community. The days of the public campaigns against the Prime Minister and others on the issue are past. I think the Chief Minister and Mr Moore should reap as they sow. If you attack people like Howard and leave them with no alternative but to attack back, you end up with no advance at all in relation to the matter. It is not going to be easy to advance this, no matter what the flavour of the government is, but I am confident that under Labor a more sympathetic approach will be taken to dealing with the issue. I hope that they do well in the next election and we do not have to worry about John Howard's view on drugs ever again.

In relation to funding for the ACT, I think what you have attempted to do here today is nothing short of a cheap confidence trick. To say that we never received any funding but Dr Wooldridge has promised that we might if he gets elected after the next election and the process by which we will get that funding is the amalgamation of smaller programs into one so that we can deal with our major problem all smacks of a big trick to me. It does not work. What happened to the smaller programs that were so important? Are we just going to ditch them?

Ms Carnell: There were not any. There were no applications.

MR BERRY: Yes, there were. Are you going to ditch these smaller programs and roll them into one bigger one in the lead-up to the election, in the hope that you are going to convince people that you are doing something in relation to the matter and that they ought to feel warm and comfortable on the basis of a promise from Dr Wooldridge that something might be done if he gets elected and is the Health Minister? If you could sell used cars on that basis, you would be a billionaire. This is a motor car with a bad big end knock. This is not a promise that anybody out there in the community will cop.

Mr Moore has a record of prancing the world stage in relation to progressive views on drugs, but he has now got himself into an awfully deep hole where nothing has happened in the ACT as a result of all of his posturing. Yes, there has been a debate. Our drug problem is worse. Our health system is not coping with it, and the Federal Government is not giving us the sort of funding we need to deal with our particular drug problem.

I think there is an issue here that ought to be of great concern to the community. All of this self-aggrandisement over the heroin issue in the ACT has regrettably led us nowhere, and that is the great shame of it. But a message has been sent out to young people in the community in particular that heroin is not really as bad as you think. I suspect that all of this public posturing and the messages being sent with it have probably contributed to the increase in our drug problem. I am not going to be one who advocates an immediate return to the bad old days and get out there with a big stick trying to force the issue, standing up and screaming, "Say no to drugs", but we have to recognise that we have been going backwards, not forwards, despite all of the rhetoric.

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