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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4175 ..

Mr Moore: No waiting for methadone.

MR KAINE: Do not wave that yellow and blue piece of paper at me. I am talking about the law that you, Mr Moore, are asking me to pass tonight. Well, Mr Moore, I will vote against it.

Mr Moore: Surely not.

MR KAINE: And I am even more adamant about voting against it now than I was even two hours ago. I think the whole thing is a sham. I do not think there is any real sincerity in what is being proposed here at all. It is so that, in a year's time certain people can stand up and say, "We are doing something". Well, I would much prefer that they were doing something that was going to have some practical outcome rather than just some sort of a publicity exercise, Mr Speaker.

MS TUCKER (8.48): The legislation before the Assembly tonight is for a two-year trial of a supervised injecting place. It is written in the objects of the Bill that there will be an independent evaluation of the trial, weighing up the impact of the place on public health - both the costs and benefits. The debate tonight is not about the existence of drugs and drug problems in our society, or about the scale of the social, legal and health problems that are attached. This debate is about what this Government chooses to do or not to do to address these problems. In the context of growing health crime and social problems that reflect the use of drugs of dependence, the Greens believe the onus is on this place to be brave.

There are a lot of things we can do if we have the will and are prepared to address the issues. If we take no action, fail to explore possible strategies to help us deal with the problems and the issues, I believe we are failing in our responsibilities as leaders in our community. We must proceed with diligence. We must test strategies and make informed choices about what, as the body responsible for governing this society, we can realistically achieve. This is what we are debating now. By trialling this course of action, we are taking one step forward. A supervised injecting place addresses one aspect of the problems we face.

Too much time has been spent talking about what constitutes a scientific trial, in the shadow of the 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs. So I will be brief on this particular issue. Context is obviously everything. Until the mid-1950s, heroin was available legally through prescription in the UK and Australia. Addiction to drugs was seen as a medical rather than a legal problem and was, by all accounts, of no real social significance at the time. However, a whole number of drugs, including heroin and cocaine, have been prohibited in the United States since 1914. Drug-related social problems had become endemic in the United States by the 1930s. The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, then, was the product of half a century of pressure from the United States. Since that time, as we know, drug-related health and crime problems have grown exponentially around the world, Australia included.

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