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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1152 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

groups, individuals and government and non-government agencies to ensure successful outcomes. This is, surely, an approach that all members, and indeed the Labor Party, support.

I note that the strategy includes a section on coordination, collaboration and consultation, and I note that the Minister expresses his commitment to consultation. I do note, however, that the Government has provided until only 30 April of this year, a month after the release of the strategy, for public comment. I must say, Mr Speaker, given the number of competing priorities in the strategy and the complexity of the issues and their difficulty, I believe that the Minister and the Government should extend the deadline for community input, particularly since the given time for responses did include Easter and the school holidays. I do hope that the Minister might give some consideration to extending the deadline for community consultation.

In recent weeks there has been a groundswell of media and political attention surrounding the issue of illicit drugs. Following the Premiers Conference this month, a communique was signed by politicians around the country. The document saw a commitment from the Federal Government to provide funding for expanded treatments, with the States and Territories providing diversionary programs from courts to treatment programs and protocols for assessing users. Governments also committed themselves to developing strategies to stop the supply of drugs in prisons, to take stronger action to combat the drug supply into Australia, and to develop stronger measures to fight drugs in schools. In addition, the Commonwealth agreed to fast-track consideration of listing naltrexone on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme - a significant move, although by no means the only treatment worthy of Commonwealth support.

The introduction of this communique means that drug users who qualify will be diverted from the criminal justice system onto the road of rehabilitation. There has been much comment about concerns that the diversion of users into treatment centres will not work if offenders are forced to undertake compulsory treatment. A related issue is the lack of resources.

New South Wales introduced a drug court in February this year. Under this scheme the court has access to just six detoxification beds for men and one for women. The limited number of beds dictates how many people can be diverted to treatment programs at any one time, and of course has a serious impact on whether or not a scheme so poorly resourced can be appropriately monitored or assessed.

In the ACT we have our own form of drug court, and we have had it for many years. Under the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989, provision is made for our courts to issue treatment orders whereupon offenders, after assessment by a professional panel, are ordered to submit themselves to approved treatment. The year to date figures show that of the drug offenders appearing before the courts, all were issued with assessment orders, and, of those, 79 per cent were issued with treatment orders.

As yet we have no indication of how much funding will be provided to the ACT under the drugs package. However, we can roughly assume, I am led to believe, that about 2 per cent of the $220m will flow to the ACT. I have to say that it is disappointing that

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