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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4191 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

a shooting gallery would not change that mindset. Do you honestly believe that addicts living in Gordon or Holt would go to the trouble of catching two or three buses or whatever else it takes to get to the facility in Civic before injecting themselves? I spoke with a heroin addict who lives in Kingston. I asked her, hypothetically, "If you were a heavy drug user and you scored in Kingston, would you go to Civic to shoot up?". The answer was no, she could not be bothered. She just wanted the hit.

I believe that the present services must be addressed before we make this quantum leap. The Government cannot even get the methadone program right. Addicts have to go on a waiting list for methadone and, in many cases I am aware of, addicts lose the desire to stop and are back in the addiction cycle again before they are admitted. If there is going to be in the vicinity of $2m spent on having a shooting gallery, the community deserves at least a rock-solid proposal that satisfies the sensible questions being raised. That has not occurred. I will be opposing this Bill.

MR CORBELL (9.56): Mr Speaker, along with my colleagues in the Labor Opposition, we will be supporting this very important Bill this evening. We do so from a position of detailed and considered decision-making. We do so because, at the end of the day, as other members have said in this place, this is fundamentally an issue of compassion.

Mr Speaker, when I was first elected to this place this was an issue which I knew very little about, but in my time here I have had the opportunity to speak with many people who have experienced directly the consequences of heroin use, the often tragic consequences, and I am disappointed and alarmed at the tenor of some of the language we have heard from members here this evening. I just want to read out what I have noted down during the debate that I have heard. The words we have heard are "plague", "evil", "selfish", "element", "ghetto", "drug thugs", "criminal element", "criminal scourges". Mr Speaker, this is the language of us and them. It is a language which is divisive and a language that attempts to portray good and bad. Mr Speaker, it is an inappropriate language for what is such an important issue.

The reality, Mr Speaker, is that so many of those who are involved and caught up in the cycle of drug abuse are there not through any direct fault of their own, but simply through circumstances which they have been unable to control, or which they thought they could control and suddenly found they could not. Many of the people involved in drug abuse come from stable, solid family backgrounds, with caring and loving parents, and a fulfilling social life. Many people involved in drug abuse also have jobs. Many people addicted to heroin are involved in high-paying, creative, talented positions in our society. But they all battle against an illness, an addiction which they find so very difficult to control. It is not a case, Mr Speaker, of us and them. It is not a case of evil and good. It is not a case of black and white. I think that really draws the line between those who say we have to paint these people involved in drug abuse as people who are on the dark side of society and we, in the corner of light, know what is best. That is not the way to proceed with this debate.

The provision of a supervised injecting place, as some of my colleagues have said, is simply one part of the solution. It is not the solution. Indeed, Mr Speaker, I believe that many people involved in drug abuse, many people addicted to illicit drugs, will not see

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