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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4198 ..

This is an attempt. I will join with the Chief Minister in saying that it will not continue if it is not successful. If it is successful, I for one will be overjoyed. I will tell you something else for free, Mr Speaker - so will my daughter. She has said to me on a number of occasions - I must admit that I have not taken up the offer - that if there is any way that she can help somebody not to go down this track, all I have to do is give them her phone number. What we are saying here is that our society is giving people that phone number.

I urge people to think long and hard about whether or not we should take a risk. Take a risk in what? The Government has already established the Youth Rehabilitation Centre. Was that a bit of a risk? Lives have already been saved. As Mr Smyth has said a number of times in the chamber about different Bills - I must admit that I have given him a bit of stick over it because I have sometimes doubted his sincerity, but I do not on this Bill - if it saves just one life then it is worth it. He is right. In this instance we do not have any choice, Mr Speaker. We have absolutely no choice whatever but to support this trial.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (10.31): Mr Speaker, I have said in this place on many issues, as Mr Hargreaves has just indicated, that if something saves one life then it is worth it. We all travel down paths that lead us to different places at different times. For me, an issue like abortion is quite clear. If I can save a life, I will. It is the same with euthanasia and the same with capital punishment. The opportunity on Tuesday to apply mandatory sentencing in a way that sends to those who drive their cars in a dangerous way or under the influence of alcohol the message that it is unacceptable to do so was great as well. The opportunity to stand up and support the establishment of a medically-supervised injecting place is yet a further occasion for me to say that I believe that we need to do everything that we can as a society to save human life. But it is not a path that is easy to get to sometimes.

I would have to say that I have changed my opinion over the years. Perhaps 10 years ago I would have said that such people were guilty, that they were scum, that they were losers, that they were bludgers, that they were crims and that they deserved to die. But I have to say now that I was wrong. The path to that position was through the death of a friend who did not choose to become an addict. She became an addict after a series of very serious operations that left her addicted to morphine. Once you are discharged from the medical system you cannot acquire morphine very easily, but you can get heroin. She died alone with a needle in her arm and the world lost a really great person. But she did not have a chance. She did not follow the paths that many other drug users follow. For me, she is the exception to the rule that would make us all say that they are guilty, scum, losers, bludgers, crims and users because she was never any of those and we should not say that about those who use now.

The second thing for me was a briefing from Dr Gabriele Bammer about the heroin trial. I have to say that the information that that lady presented was just compelling. The third incident for me happened after I became a member of this place. It happened when Bill Stefaniak and I went to DRIC, because I still had more to learn. As Maureen was showing us around DRIC and talking to us about what she did, a young couple came in.

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