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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4193 ..

MR QUINLAN (10.07): Mr Speaker, I had not intended to speak in this debate. In fact, I do not really intend to speak directly on the topic. I just want to respond, particularly, to Mr Rugendyke because of the selective way that he mentioned some of the people who will support this particular initiative, but not all. I think it is of grave concern that he spoke of Ms Tucker and Mr Stanhope and then repeatedly addressed his remarks at Mr Stanhope, including squarely laying blame at the feet of Mr Stanhope.

Quite obviously, if this initiative gets up, it is going to get up with the support of the majority of members of this house. I am afraid, Mr Rugendyke, that you are showing an inordinate bias in your approach, just as you have in your public pronouncements. Remember that this particular initiative is the brainchild of Mr Moore. Remember that this initiative, as far as I know, has the support of Ms Carnell and Mr Smyth, and I know that you are much closer to the Liberal side of politics than most of the people in the Liberal Party. However, I think you must take a wider view and look at the matter in a very balanced manner rather than the way you have now.

Mr Rugendyke: I do. You have hijacked it.

MR QUINLAN: Remember, Mr Rugendyke, it is Mr Stanhope who has ensured that before this trial there will be caveats placed on the rest of the drug program. This is not the only expenditure that the Government is involved in in relation to drugs. Remember, it is Mr Stanhope who has insisted that it have the framework of a trial. Now, open your mind for once.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (10.09): Mr Speaker, the issue of drug abuse is very complex and almost everyone has accepted that there are no easy answers. If there were any easy answers, of course, somebody would have come up with them somewhere in the world and would have had good outcomes. The fact is that that has not happened.

The other thing that is interesting about drug abuse, and sometimes I think we forget about it, is that it is not just in Western societies and it is not just recent. In fact, drug abuse of varying types has happened for as long as we have had written history. It has happened in all cultures. In countries such as Ecuador, beetle nut and other mind-altering substances are used. Heavens, we had opium wars on at least three occasions, I think. The fact is that human beings, for whatever reason, seem to have a need to use mind-altering substances to some level at some stages. Mr Speaker, you could easily say that it is only when we get to the illegality of some of these substances that we really see some very real problems in society, but I am not going to get into that debate tonight, although I am always very willing to have it with anybody.

Mr Speaker, I think I am probably the only one in this Assembly who has worked over a lot of years with people who are drug dependent, and probably the only one who came into the Assembly, even including Mr Moore, I think, with a very definite view on this issue, and one that has continued to develop over the years. That does not mean that my view is worth any more than yours, Mr Speaker, or Mr Rugendyke's, or, for that matter, Mr Kaine's. I respect every single view in this place because there is no right answer. There is no right answer for everybody, but I have to say, Mr Speaker, that there is a right answer for me. That right answer for me is to support a heroin trial, a safe injecting place, or any initiative that has any chance whatsoever of saving the lives of

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