Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4166 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
to work, they need to be funded and supported by governments. There are no quick fixes or easy solutions here. Each strategy must be properly researched and evaluated.
What do young people want? Too often we neglect to consult with those about whose lives we legislate. Youth organisations have called for wide-ranging changes, including national uniform laws relating to drugs; law reform; supply, demand and harm reduction all being given equal focus; rehabilitation and support service provision; drug courts or the option of attending drug rehabilitation centres where job skills, education, social and domestic skilling, stress management techniques and counselling will be available; specialised training for police; education from Years 3 to 12 in life skills, stress management and the long-term effects of drugs so that individuals can make informed decisions; funding of youth services; provision of youth facilities to reduce the use of drugs stemming from boredom; and counsellors and community service provision.
How can we as community leaders and community legislators passively sit by allowing more deaths of the ACT's sons and daughters, allowing more children to be endangered by discarded needles in gardens, streets and playgrounds, and forcing our police and volunteers to try vainly to cope with an ever-growing and unresourced problem. Labor believes that only a rigorous, systematic, comprehensive and coordinated response based on sound scientific research will help Australia to overcome the problem of illicit drugs.
This Bill presents the ACT with a chance to begin to turn around our drug policies and to be in the vanguard of a more enlightened approach, and I commend it to the house. But we cannot stop with this initiative. We have to recognise that there is much more to be done, and we have to determine to take that next step. I have already reflected on how useful and constructive it would have been to have had a truly bipartisan approach to this issue. I think it is very sad that this was not to be.
Nevertheless, I want to announce now that the Labor Party is committed to working constructively with others in this place and with the broad-based community groups that have demonstrated they have a genuine commitment to tackling this menace. I am proposing the establishment of a high-level and permanent task force that would include representatives of the Government, the Greens, the Labor Party and those community groups that have agreed to be part of the drug injecting place advisory committee, together with officers of appropriate government departments and agencies like the Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice and Community Safety, to work constructively and in a bipartisan manner to develop, advocate and implement policies aimed at combating the scourge of drug abuse.
Mr Speaker, this Assembly has to lead the fight, not react to the problem. That is why we have to establish the injecting room trial and why I trust there will be a genuine, positive and bipartisan response to my suggestion for a permanent task force in the ACT on heroin and illicit drugs.
MR HIRD (8.05): Mr Speaker, while this is a government Bill and I am a member of the Government, I want to make it clear to this parliament that I am totally opposed to this Bill and I will be voting against it.