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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 503 ..


Drug Trial

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister in her capacity as Acting Minister for Health. Yesterday the Chief Minister announced that the ACT would conduct a trial of naltrexone and noted also the current trial of buprenorphine.

Ms Carnell: I actually announced it in 1997.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, the Labor Party is supportive of these trials. In response to the Chief Minister's interjection, the Chief Minister announced that the ACT would conduct the trial in the near future. Last month the Minister for Health briefed me on these issues and specifically asked me to keep the date of the trial confidential so that the scientific efficacy of the trials would not be compromised, and management problems would not arise as a result of both local and interstate drug users attempting to get on the trials. Last November a member of my staff was briefed by the Department of Health to the same effect, with my staff also being asked by the department to treat the issue confidentially. It was raised last week in discussions that I had with Dr Gabrielle Bammer. Can the Chief Minister tell the Assembly why she does not share the concerns expressed to me by the Minister for Health and why she does not share the concerns expressed to my staff by the Department of Health about the need to keep the timing of the naltrexone trial confidential?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, there are actually two trials, one trial that is on at the moment and one trial on naltrexone. My press release, by the way, was approved and sanctioned by the department. The trial that is going on at the moment, which we will not talk about, is the trial that Mr Stanhope is talking about. He has just got confused, Mr Speaker, which is not unusual. The trial that is going on at the moment is not one that is being publicised. By the way, it is not a naltrexone trial directly. Scientific efficacy requires that the trial be not publicised. The people who access the trial need to be dealt with in a particular way to achieve scientific efficacy, I am advised.

The naltrexone trial which is due to start later this year is not in the same bracket. I think the person who did the interviews on that trial was the doctor, the professor or associate professor of general practice, who put that trial together. It certainly was not me who did any interviews that were required on naltrexone.

Mr Speaker, it just seems that Mr Stanhope has got confused but again between two different trials that are occurring, two different scientific protocols. Unfortunately, Mr Speaker, this shows but again Mr Stanhope's total lack of understanding in this important area.


: I have a supplementary question. I would like to ask the Chief Minister whether or not she believes a bipartisan approach is an essential element of any successful strategy to tackle Canberra's drug problems. Seeing that she seems to think that I have some confusion in my understanding, and given that the Minister for Health has provided me, by way of briefing, with various legal advisings on the problems

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