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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4171 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

Zero tolerance, which I might have held to once, is simply not realistic. We should not pursue it. The injecting room is one practical measure that may prove useful. If it does not prove that way, it stops. It may keep people alive and it may turn lives around. Those captured by heroin who go into this injecting place may be captured by the programs it can lead to. I am optimistic; I believe that will happen. It is the key part of the program. I think we have acknowledged that the "safe injecting place" is the wrong name.

"Safer" or "supervised", there is still that very strong element of danger. I dispute strongly any claim that it sends the wrong message. It sends the right message. It sends the message that heroin is dangerous. If you dare to use it, you have to exercise extraordinary care. A supervised injecting room sends another message: "If you come here we will try to keep you alive and try even harder to get you off heroin". There is an even more important message that says, "We care". The really important message is: "We want to keep you alive; we want to help you; we want to restore you". That is the message we must push.

Some addicts, many of whom have lived in caring families and caring communities, might not have found that caring message in their lives. Such is the complexity of their problem. That is how complex is the issue. But let us give a lead in caring. I am delighted to hear Mr Stanhope's call for a task force. I hope that is taken up by all people. It is so important that we do not think that this is one step and some sort of solution. I have not heard the proponents say that. But there is so much to do. If we do not act at the very early stages of the heroin problem, it can go a lot further as it has come a long way in a short time. So we try absolutely every avenue to encourage people not to get on it - all the prevention measures we can find. And if you do get on it, we will then encourage and support you to get off it. It is a very difficult and complex problem and we must attend to it most seriously. This is one serious measure tonight. There have got to be a lot more in the future.

MR KAINE (8.35): I do not intend to speak at great length. My view on this matter is already well known. I have always had very real reservations about a so-called trial of the kind that is proposed. My reservations have been based on the kinds of things outlined so eloquently by Mr Hird. There are many reasons, and Mr Hird traversed many reasons, why we should not be contemplating this step. I think the proponents have relied too much on what I consider spurious claims of success of such trials overseas. They tend too readily to set aside the different view that says those trials have not been successful.

There has been plenty of literature to suggest that blind acceptance of the results of those trials as being successful is not warranted. So we see people picking up on that and saying, "Because that was so successful overseas, we have got to do it here". I do not accept that logic. In fact, I do not believe there is any logic to it at all. I believe the proponents of this kind of trial have too readily picked up on that as some sort of quick fix, perhaps just as a demonstration that we are "doing something". Unless we know what we are going to do before we start, I am not too sure that "doing something" is necessarily better than doing nothing.

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