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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4169 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

A lot has been said in recent times about trying to get people back into Civic. Section 56 redevelopment, upgrading of the Canberra Centre, beautification of Ainslie Avenue and the imaginative Our City program are all projects designed with that in mind - assisting the CBD of our great city. What are we doing to the small business operators in the area? Have we talked to them? What do we as the local parliament propose to do? We propose the establishment of a centre designed to increase illegal drug taking and drug trafficking in the heart of this city, which we are trying to beautify.

But that is only one of the side issues in this debate. While Civic is certainly not the appropriate place for an injecting room, I am opposed to the whole implication of this Bill. I would still be opposed if the room was established on the Mugga Lane garbage tip or Parkwood garbage tip or anywhere else in the Territory. I have discussed this matter very deeply with a lot of people within the Territory. The police do not want it. The medical profession do not want it. Social service agencies do not want it. The retailers in Civic or any other area of Canberra do not want it. Most of all, the general community does not want it. If there is any doubt about that, then I would ask legislators in this place to test my word. Put it to a referendum, and we will see what the answer is.

Why are we going down this path before a formal assessment of the implications of this Bill? I was interested the other day to listen to the Leader of the Opposition talking about the report of the scrutiny of Bills committee and foreshadowing amendments to this Bill. If he has nothing to hide, then refer this Bill, with the amendments, to the scrutiny of Bills committee so that they can look at the substance of the amendments. The technical application of the Bill could not be assessed by the committee on which I serve. Some questions were raised by an independent arbitrator, the legal adviser to the scrutiny of Bills committee. (Extension of time granted) He has not been privy to numerous Opposition amendments. The appropriate course is for us to refer this matter to the scrutiny of Bills committee so that they can assess it and make certain that we are not making the wrong decision. Do not be a do-gooder unless you have firm grounds. Why are we going down this path before a formal assessment of the implications? In the interests of the great majority of people of this great Territory, I urge members of this parliament to think seriously about the ramifications of adopting this Bill.

MR WOOD (8.22): Mr Speaker, in this debate tonight, which follows a prolonged debate in the community, we have a very narrow focus. We are looking at just one measure that may, or may not, work. It is a trial, but we need to find out. As we discuss this narrower focus, we should not forget the broad context of the whole anti-heroin debate. It is a wide, complex and difficult issue, which has, so far, defied defeat of the problems brought about by heroin use. A safe injecting room, a supervised injecting room - a much better term - is not the answer. There is no single answer. But it may be one useful approach - one measure that we examine tonight, one aspect of a comprehensive program encompassing prevention, treatment and support.

We know here, we hear it so often, that each person is different. We have been brought up knowing that. We know that each addict is different. Where abstinence may work for one, it will not work for others. So we need a wide variety of measures as we attempt to deal with this problem. There has been one negative outcome of the dominance of the public debate on the injecting room. And that is much less focus than we should have

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