Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1156 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
prison to be built before existing prisoners are provided with effective counselling, detoxification, maintenance and rehabilitation programs, and it would be good to see the Government moving in that area.
Injecting drug users, men, infectious disease transmission and survivors of sexual assault and other trauma are also identified as priority areas under the strategy, and action plans for further development of strategies have been integrated into this draft. Labor acknowledges the significance of these areas and welcomes these initiatives. However, I must say - this goes back to the point that I made earlier - that since public submissions have not yet closed, we realise there will be additional input which will also need to be considered and where necessary incorporated into the strategy. I believe that, before we conclude debate on this issue of the draft drugs strategy, it is vital that we do have the opportunity of accessing the submissions made by the community, those that are providing these services. The comments I make today are subject to the rider that I would like a further opportunity, upon receipt of those submissions, to be engaged further in this debate.
MR SPEAKER: Order! The member's time has expired.
MR KAINE (12.24): I will try not to use more than the five minutes that remain before lunch. Mr Speaker, I have to say that I am somewhat ambivalent in my approach to the document that has been tabled and called an ACT drug strategy. In fact, it is nowhere near a drug strategy. It focuses on health aspects of drug abuse. I wonder how long it is going to be before the Government tackles the whole question of drug abuse and the problems that arise from it and produces a strategy that deals with that subject and not just a part of it. The report itself acknowledges that it only deals with that. In fact, it specifically excludes consideration of control. It refers to an AFP document and says that is the policy for the control of importation and distribution and associated crime. I do not know how the Government can put this document forward and claim that it is a comprehensive policy. It acknowledges itself that it is not, and I would like to see a strategy that covers the lot.
In fact, I was rather disturbed to see, after we have just recently had an evaluation of a three-year program, that on page 7, in the introduction to this document, it says, "strategies must be developed and implemented". What the hell have we doing for four years? This is the fourth year and we are told in the introduction that these strategies must be developed and implemented. I agree, but I would have thought that in the fourth year of a program we would have had those strategies developed, in place and being implemented, not just being hinted at and suggested.
We seem to be dealing with this problem in a half-hearted way. We are not really serious about it. We write lots of words in lots of documents. You have documents everywhere. But what, in fact, has been achieved so far? Even the evaluation of the first three-year program gives no clear indication of how far we have progressed in the last three years. There are no evaluation criteria which are considered in this evaluation, and yet our new document says we are building on that one. Since we do not know how much was spent on the last three years' strategy and what the results have been in effective terms of combating the problem, how can we know that this is going to take us anywhere? But there are lots of good words in here. So my general response is, Mr Speaker, that it is an inadequate strategy.