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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1200 ..


Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed from 20 April 1999, on motion by Ms Carnell:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MR WOOD (4.53): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I had a very interesting introduction to this Assembly when we were considering the question of strategies. I came in as something of a novice about that subject but I received very rigorous training. That training came from one Michael Moore, who in those early planning days gave clear and detailed instructions about what does and what does not make for a strategy. I well remember those lessons, but I sometimes wonder whether Mr Moore remembers them because I believe that in this document, as in an earlier one we discussed this year, the strategies are not as he laid down to me some years ago.

Let me acknowledge that this is a draft. I believe there is still quite a way to go for it to be well accepted as a comprehensive drug strategy. Mr Kaine and I were able to compare our notes on this and I had underlined exactly the same areas that he had underlined. It is not as it says it is. It is not a drug strategy. As he did, I will refer you to page 12, which says that from here on, after the earlier debate, the emphasis and the objectives of this strategy are on the public health aspects of harm minimisation. So that is what this title should be. Simply that - "Harm minimisation". Then we go on to discuss in some detail that harm minimisation.

Mr Moore: It is a harm minimisation strategy, yes.

MR WOOD: Yes. I would like to see more than that. Strategies cover a whole area of aspects. This hints at that. This talks about supply reduction. It mentions it but it does not deal with it because it is not part of the strategy. So let me make that point first of all - that it is not as it claims to be.

I want to go on to some of the detail. Again, we will not see it here but it should be here. I have the answer to a very large part of the drug problem. I confess to being quite unknowledgeable about how to deal with drugs, but I have a very important answer that you will all instantly acknowledge.

Mr Moore: We are listening, Mr Wood. You have our attention.

MR WOOD: Yes, you will all wait. If we offered every person a job, if we had a sound social environment, and if young people in particular were guaranteed a productive future, a very large part of our drug problem, I would argue, would disappear. I think that is sometimes neglected. I think as we argue these issues we tend to overlook that.

Let me acknowledge also, from briefings I have had in earlier times, that there is still quite large recreational illicit drug usage in the ACT. Many of those who come under that category are already in sound, constructive and useful jobs. Some of those, as we know, are among the victims of drug overdoses because of the high purity of the drugs that they receive. So there is one answer, and it is not an answer just for the ACT.

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