Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2821 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
Since the paper was issued we had the debate in the election period and it was revealed that the Commonwealth, in fact, had not provided any funding to the ACT. It is not clear to me - perhaps the Minister could clarify this point for me - whether we have received that $125,000 that has been promised or whether that was what we were anticipating in that first round and now are hoping for or praying for in the second round. I take the point that if that is all we are going to get then these prioritised gaps that have been recognised in the paper seem to me to be unobtainable. There are issues for me around that in terms of what we can afford, and why the Commonwealth, I think, has discriminated against us in this way. I would be grateful if the Minister at some stage, if not today, could explain that to me.
I will close my contribution now. There are other issues raised in the paper going to the methadone treatment program. These are issues that we need to remain vigilant about. I do understand that these are issues which I think we in the ACT must get right if we are genuinely serious about meeting the terrible cost of drug abuse in this community. I understand that the waiting list for methadone did blow out to seven weeks, but it is now back to four weeks or thereabouts. It seems to me that, as a community accepting the terrible scourge of illicit drugs and the terrible pain and damage and cost in lives, suffering and unhappiness, we must get into place our basic programs for treating those people seeking rehabilitation, looking for some assistance from the community for relief from their addiction. We must get the basics right in order to be able to move on through the suite of possibilities available to us as we explore the range of proposals that can be utilised to attack the drug problem.
There is a lot of food for thought in the report. I think it is a good report, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. There are things that I would be very happy to argue and debate with the Minister, but I think it is a useful contribution to a debate which this community must have on these issues. I look forward to continuing to engage with the Minister in a constructive way to further the issues.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (4.49), in reply: I would like to thank members for their contribution. I think Mr Stanhope summed it up when he said that these are difficult issues that plague our society in this era. It seems to me that the opportunity to work with all members of the Assembly to try to take the politics out of this issue as much as we can will mean that we should be able to get much better outcomes. I certainly appreciate the invitation of Mr Stanhope to do that.
Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I would like to inform the Assembly that it is not just words because the Labor Party invited me to speak to their policy conference a matter of weeks ago, which I was delighted to do. I thought it was a very fruitful afternoon. It just shows that it is more than just words; that there is a genuine commitment to try to get the best possible outcome for the people of the ACT in dealing with the particularly complex problems associated with illicit drugs.
Both speakers raised the range of issues with which we must deal, and I think that is fundamental to what we are seeking to achieve. Mr Wood identified a gap in what I presented in regard to law enforcement issues, and rightly so. Indeed, I presented this report very much from a health context. But I will say that it was very interesting to