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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4179 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

has been a long time coming. (Extension of time granted) It has been developed with extensive consultation with community stakeholders and upon wide-ranging expert advice. It is the product of a partnership between the ACT's health and justice portfolios, business and community groups, drug users, local and national organisations with expertise in health, crime and drug dependency.

This Bill lays down the length of the trial for the supervised injecting place, operating procedures and management protocols. It provides direction on protocols for the police and the courts; guarantees guidance, support and referrals to injecting drug users; ensures a safe and hygienic environment; and specifies a scientifically conducted independent evaluation of the public health benefits and risks. I am pleased to support this Bill. People in this place who reject this, in my view, are well meaning. They are concerned, as are we all, about the incredible social problems that drug use has created. I appeal to their sense of compassion. If we do not support injecting drug users, we are failing to demonstrate the compassion so fundamental to finding ways of healing social problems in our society.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (9.05): Might I state at the outset that, as most people realise, I am against the idea of having a safe injecting place, shooting gallery or whatever you want to call it. Might I also state at the outset that I respect what I regard as the very pure motives of those who are proposing this facility to do the best for those sections of our society who are affected by drugs. Mr Moore has held a particular view for probably as long as I have known him and he holds it for all the right reasons. I think that, in many ways, he is wrong, but I would never query his strongly held belief and his motives. Similarly, the Chief Minister has held certain views for as long as I have known her in politics and holds them most sincerely. I respect her motives, but I do not necessarily agree with them. My colleague Mr Smyth holds similar views as well. Indeed, I think that the other members of this house who support this proposal are also putting their point of view for the very best of reasons. However, I think that they are misguided.

Mr Stanhope mentioned deaths. The sad fact is that if you are a heroin addict, and I have known many, there is a very good chance that you will die from using heroin. You may well be partially rehabilitated, you may well be off the drug for many years, but there is a very good chance that you will get back onto the drug. I have known many people who have died of heroin. I had a very good friend who died of heroin at about the age of 31 years. I went through primary school and high school with that person. I have known a number of people - relatives, friends and people I have met through the court system - who have made a valiant effort to kick the habit and who, apparently, have been rehabilitated and gone back to their families and back into jobs before suffering a relapse for some reason. Heroin is a terrible drug and there are no easy answers for it.

Mr Stanhope mentioned that the approaches we have tried have not worked, that prohibition has not worked and that the problem is getting worse and worse. I have had considerable experience in this matter, having prosecuted lots of heroin-addicted people in the courts for serious offences. Indeed, the current Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Refshauge, used to defend many of them and we appeared against each other many times, often in front of Mr Justice Gallop, whose views on this subject also changed over the years. Whilst a number of measures have not worked, it can be said that we

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