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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1157 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

Secondly, it does not tell us how far we have gone and how much further we have to go, and what, in fact, we are going to do specifically to deal with that. For example, the Government has been talking consistently about putting into effect a more comprehensive needle exchange program and a safe injecting house, a so-called safe injecting house, and a heroin trial. What does this document say about that?

In connection with both, it refers to an investigation of these two things. How come the Government has been so positive about going ahead with both of these things - they have been positive about it; no half-hearted approach at all - when their own strategy says that for the next couple of years we will be investigating? We will support the investigation of a scientific trial of a safe injecting facility and support the investigation of a scientific trial of controlled heroin provision. Where are we with these things? I am more confused about what the Government's intentions are and where they are going than I was before I read this document. So I have to say that I am not very impressed with it.

The first three-year study proves that it was more process oriented than achievement oriented. Its evaluation makes that quite clear. Are we going to go through another two to three years of process evaluation and navel gazing about how we might go about doing something useful?

There is a point made in there that there is a lack of useful and comparable ACT data. How then can the Government make policy decisions if they do not have any ACT data on which to base them? In other words, we are making policy decisions totally in a knowledge vacuum. How can the Government justify that? More good words, but let us have some practical application.

Mr Speaker, as I say, I am very concerned. This problem has been well defined. We know that there is an enormous problem. We know that it is an increasing problem. But I do not see anything in this document that tells me or the community out there that this is what we are doing positively to combat that problem. Even insofar as it deals with the problem, it is only one aspect of the problem. Where is the comprehensive government policy document that talks about all aspects of the drug problem and what they intend to do about it? The Minister for Health clearly has a particular interest. The other members of the Government do not seem to have any interest because if they did this policy document would go much further than it does.

Mr Speaker, I must say I am exceedingly disappointed. I am not saying that there is not good material in here. I have to give the Minister credit. There is much good work being done but it is only addressing part of the problem. In fact, it is only addressing the symptoms in terms of the health problem. There is much more to the drug problem than that, and I wish the rest of the Government, other than the Minister for Health, would get off their butts and do something, as he is attempting to do in his own specialised field. Mr Speaker, it is a most disappointing document, purporting to be a government drug strategy, but it is nothing of the kind.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hird ) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 12.32 to 2.30 pm

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