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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2818 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

Mr Moore correctly sets out an approach which is coordinated across government. He refers to education, to urban services and to law reform, as I said. That is important and it is essential to success, as we seek to win support for appropriate models of control, of management. The heroin trial, I thought, was close to being accepted in the community and by most, or many, senior politicians in Australia today. It was only Mr Howard's late veto, I think, that killed it off. In seeking to gain the strong community support that we need for such approaches we need to be sure to bring people with us. We need that education. We need counselling. We need policing of supply, I would think. We need law reform. We need a wide range of harm minimisation measures.

If there was any problem that I see in retrospect about the heroin trial it is that it was wrongly taken by the media and it was sometimes seen as the only program we were going to do when, in effect, I believe it was intended to be seen as one means of considering the problem. It was certainly unfortunate that the tabloid media, in Sydney in particular, simply sensationalised it and acted, I think, quite disgracefully.

A range of strategies, a range of treatments, is necessary, as we attempt to overcome the problem of illicit drugs. I think further debates in this Assembly will focus on that broad-based approach, and that also needs to be the debate in the broader community. But the heroin trial is not any part of the strategy we are discussing today. I have deviated, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, from the paper we are discussing. Safe injecting rooms do feature. As Mr Moore indicates, there will be investigation of a pilot safe injecting place. He was quite clear on that during estimates. I am sure all members of this Assembly will be interested in looking at that proposal.

Recently in Sydney, along with members of the Health and Community Care Committee of the Assembly, I saw a place that was not a place with a safe injecting room. It was, I suppose, a good establishment, if you are attacking the drugs problem, with a wide range of approaches, including medical staff for routine medical problems as well as problems specific to illicit drug uses, with counselling, with a needle exchange and with a drop-in centre. It was really a place that works well for what it is intended to do. It was pointed out to us that it could easily have one addition to it, namely a safe injecting room, but that is not the policy of the New South Wales Government, so it is not going to proceed, certainly not at this time. But it was interesting to see that place in operation. There are some places in the ACT, or one at least, that are not too different from that, and we should bear that in mind.

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, this is a comprehensive document. It has a range of useful and necessary measures. It does not detail all the measures that may be taken, but we will certainly participate in that debate which will expand the topics raised in this important policy.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (4.35): I rise to speak briefly to the harm minimisation paper which the Minister has tabled. I simply wish in the main to endorse the comments of my colleague Mr Wood. I read this document with great interest. This is a current debate, a very important debate. It is a debate which I think is very important that the ACT community be engaged in.

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