Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2811 ..
MR RUGENDYKE: My question is to the Chief Minister. Prior to the 1995 election the Liberal Party policy statement said the following:
Recent studies have shown a continuing increase in substance abuse among Canberra teenagers in the last three years.
If elected, we will examine how effective the decriminalisation of cannabis has been in Canberra. If it is working properly then we see no reason to change.
Could the Chief Minister advise the Assembly what this Government has done to rectify the increase in substance abuse following the decriminalisation of cannabis and what examination has been carried out of the relaxed cannabis laws in the five years that you have been in government?
MS CARNELL: Research has been done in that timeframe. Mr Moore informs me that the person who did that research was Dr Ali. We have seen quite a lot of work done in this area over that period of time, looking at the South Australian legislation, which is fairly similar to ours.
Mr Rugendyke: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question relates to the policies of the ACT Liberals. I am talking about ACT research and evaluation, et cetera.
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, that is not a point of order.
MR SPEAKER: No, it is not. I take the opportunity to point out that standing order 117(f) states:
Questions may be asked to elicit information regarding business pending on the notice paper but discussion must not be anticipated;
MS CARNELL: Research done of similar legislation in other jurisdictions is obviously appropriate to look at and to use when we assess our position here in the ACT. I certainly have seen no indication that the current cannabis laws in the ACT have in any way increased the usage of marijuana over that period of time. The work that has been done in South Australia would tend to back that up. I understand Mr Rugendyke's view. It just happens to be different from mine. I have shown Mr Rugendyke the policy with which we went to the last election last year - - -
Mr Osborne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think the Chief Minister may have inadvertently misled the Assembly in saying that there has been no increase in cannabis use.
MS CARNELL: What I said was that I have seen no evidence that there has been an increase in cannabis use as a result of the laws, and I think that has been documented in a number of cases. There has certainly been an increase in cannabis use but in States that have some of the toughest laws in Australia. There is simply no way anybody can