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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3801 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

where it may be argued that international law has a bearing.

It certainly may be.

Mr Moore: In fact, it is.

MR STANHOPE: And it is. That is right. It seems to me it not only may be an area where international law has a bearing; international law certainly has a bearing and we have considered it. Each of us has considered the extent to which international law does have a bearing. There is no doubt about that.

Mr Osborne: And you disregarded it.

MR STANHOPE: We have not disregarded it.

Mr Osborne: Yes, you have.

MR STANHOPE: We have not disregarded it. We have thought seriously about the implications of Australia's international obligations.

Mr Moore: As they have in New South Wales.

MR STANHOPE: As the Minister says, just as the Victorian Government and just as the New South Wales Government have considered the issue of our international obligations, so have we here in the ACT. It is certain, Mr Osborne, that you and I and others in this place will interpret these obligations in varying ways. The scrutiny of Bills committee draws no conclusions. It simply draws the Assembly's attention to the fact that there are international treaty obligations that need to be taken into account. The committee does not then make a recommendation or draw any conclusions about those obligations. It simply draws attention to the fact that we are dealing with the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. As everybody says, and as the scrutiny of Bills committee's report notes, these conventions essentially commit Australia to prohibiting the possession, use, supply and so on of illicit drugs.

However, in relation to medically supervised injecting rooms such as the one that we are proposing here, it seems to me that there are avenues within those conventions that allow us to proceed with a trial of a drug injecting place without breaching compliance with our international obligations. I think it is quite clearly established that there are avenues within those treaties that allow us to proceed with this trial without fear of breaching our obligations. We can argue about it. We can say, "On the one hand, this; and on the other hand, that", but we can draw different conclusions. I am quite satisfied that the outs, if I might call them that, in those treaties do allow us as a community to proceed with the trial.

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