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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4162 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

This motion refers to the original legislation that I had put up for a supervised injecting room. My legislation would have amended the Drugs of Dependence Act. It has now been superseded by the legislation I tabled at the last sitting, so it is redundant.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


Debate resumed from 29 November 1999, on motion by Mr Moore:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (7.47): Mr Speaker, this Bill is about harm minimisation. It is about saving lives. It is about protecting the public. It is only one of the many strategies to counter the devastation caused by the abuse of drugs of dependence in the lives of so many in our community. Of itself, it cannot rid us of the scourge of drug abuse. More action and more resources will have to be applied to supplement this initiative, but it is an important initiative in an overall strategy.

The proposed medically supervised drug injecting place will be on a scientific trial basis only. We will not support its continuation if the evaluation is negative or equivocal. The objective of this legislation is to allow for a controlled study, rigorously evaluated over a fixed two-year period, of the effects of providing such a facility. Periodic reports will be produced on such matters as the incidence of drug-related deaths and ambulance call-outs; on the success or otherwise of referrals for treatment, detoxification, counselling, rehabilitation and help with problems; and on the wider Canberra community's attitudes to, and perceptions of, the facility in operation.

That is why it is important to establish the detail of how the facility will operate and the responsibilities and constraints of all persons involved before the trial commences. That is why we have sought to amend the legislation before its passage, rather than leave the detail to subsequent regulations. We make one thing abundantly clear. Let me say unequivocally, in terms that not even the most rabid anti-drugs reform commentators can distort, that Labor's support for the establishment of a medically supervised drug injecting room is not to condone or to encourage drug taking. The Pontius Pilates in this debate and the rabid commentators may as well argue that the provisions of hospitals encourage and promote ill-health. We can say of one at least of those commentators, a supposedly prominent one around town, the poor man's Stan Zemanik, that cash for comment is not an issue. No-one would pay for the misinformation, the bile and the rubbish that utter from him.

It is important to be clear about what this Bill is not. It is not about a heroin trial; it is not about providing drugs to users. Users will not be able to buy drugs at the drug injecting place. It is not the first step on the road to legalised heroin use. Those that distort the argument serve no useful purpose in the community debate about how to counter this scourge. Such distortions mean they cannot play a positive part in that debate.

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