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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3247 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

There is no evidence of this cooperation or collaboration with the cannabis laws, apart from a united call from the Government that decriminalised pot laws are working. Mr Speaker, the statistics are conclusive proof that the approach is failing.

In summary, the community is not with the Government on this drugs reform agenda. I certainly object to the initiatives this soft-on-drugs Government, Mr Moore and now Mr Stanhope, are trying to impose on our community. I see nothing in this document offering hope for people who wish to become drug free. To endorse this document offers more of the same soft approach that has been demonstrated by this Government since the addition of Mr Moore to the Cabinet.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.41): I rise to give a little credit to Mr Kaine, who spoke in a previous debate on drugs and pointed out that the Government did not have an over-arching drug strategy; rather a series of interlinked strategies. That comment came at the same time that we were discussing the issue of having an over-arching drug strategy. It was the final catalyst to say, "Yes, we should do it, and immediately".

I am very pleased to rise to support it. I have listened to a range of issues raised by members today and I will deal with some of those individually. Mrs Carnell in her reply will probably also deal with some of the issues. The title, contrary to what Mr Rugendyke says, is perfect for this drug strategy, because we are trying to create a sense of hope from the harm that that has created in our society. And I would have thought, Mr Rugendyke, from whatever perspective you have on how we should go about it, we would all agree that the current situation is not good enough; that there is harm occurring. We do want to get to a point where we can provide hope.

I can understand your criticising the way we go about it; you would go about it in a different way. But we believe that a very broad strategy that has appropriate policing, has appropriate education, has appropriate rehabilitation, has appropriate harm minimisation strategies, is the approach that will best give us the opportunity to deliver something that simply will not be resolved - and has never been resolved anywhere in the world - by a simple hard line.

That just does not work. The most glaring example of it is the United States, which uses its power and standing internationally to try to push a prohibitionist approach on all others. If we look at the outcomes from their sort of approach to drug strategy and that pushed by General McCaffrey, who will be coming to Australia in the next couple of weeks to tell us how wonderful their solution is, their solution is about putting people in prisons. They incarcerate at a rate 10 or 15 times higher than in the ACT.

Do they get better results from that? No. Their usage rates are still about the same. It is not a solution that we should look at. What we should have is a very, very broad solution, as is presented here in From Harm to Hope. I notice Mr Hird in his comments,

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