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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4203 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

is simply a matter of acting courageously. The opposite of courage is fear and there is a thin line between them. I would urge that courage be shown here tonight, because it really is important.

I want to touch on the positive impacts. I think it is important to do so. The Chief Minister mentioned them, but I will mention them again. Lots of ordinary citizens who have no part in the drug scene and do not want to be affected by the drug scene are so affected. We all are, particularly with the rise in the burglary rate in the ACT. You have only to look at the statistics coming out of Frankfurt. Frankfurt is a city of about 700,000 people in Germany. It is a fairly well off city. Between 1991 and 1997, death from heroin overdoses dropped from 147 to 22 a year. That was attributed to the use of a safe injecting place in the city of Frankfurt. It was having something like 15 overdose callouts a day in the early 1990s and has managed to drop that to two a week.

Mr Moore: For ambulances.

MR SMYTH: For ambulance callouts. Every time an ambulance is called out to a drug overdose, it could be going somewhere else. Every time an ambulance is called out it is called out at great expense. The other thing was that the rate of HIV infection amongst addicts fell from between 70 and 80 per cent to 18 per cent of those presenting themselves for the methadone program. The results have been amazingly positive. If you want to put drug users away, put them aside somewhere that still has positive effects for you. For those with fears of crime, house break-ins dropped by about 20 per cent in Frankfurt over the time and car break-ins and street robberies dropped by something like 30 per cent. It is not just for the users; there are positives in it for all of us.

Mr Speaker, after a history of several thousand years of drug abuse and use, we are at a position where I suspect many other societies have found themselves over time. What we have here is a proposal that will for once, and I think for all time, allow us to trial something that may save a single human life. I put such value on that human life that I will overcome my fears and vote for this Bill tonight because I believe that it is the right thing to do. Mr Speaker, this is an opportunity for this city, yet again, to show leadership to the nation, show compassion to those who deserve it and show hope to those in great need. It is for those reasons that I will vote for this legislation this evening.

Debate interrupted.


Motion (by Mr Moore ) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:

That standing order 76 be suspended for the remainder of the sitting.

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