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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4206 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

but it does not suit others. It will work for some, but it will be absolutely useless to others. Some people will remain on some sort of alternative drug for most of their lives.

At the end of the day, I go back to the original point I made that we as a wealthy, socially just society will be falling down on the job if we do not do something innovative to deal with the issue. Drug injecting rooms are not new and they create a lot of controversy out there in the community. Regrettably, there is amongst us a tendency to look at the politics of this issue and see what opportunities present themselves in these arguments. The Labor Party happily takes the view that, if you endorse an issue, you do it on the basis of its social value and then you sell it. We are committed to selling this drug injecting room and we will continue to do so.

Mr Speaker, I turn back to the Government's activities as outlined in From Harm to Hope and the drug education framework. They are pleasant looking pieces of paper, but nothing arises just from having pieces of paper. What we must have, of course, is constant action, commitment and money. The question that will be raised inevitably is that we are spending $700,000 or $800,000, or whatever it is, on establishing the injecting place, but how much are we spending on our schools? Not much, if you are honest with yourselves. Some will say, "Everybody in our education system puts some of their time into drug education in our schools, and that is a lot". I think that we have some difficulties in that area and I will be pursuing the Minister for Education on this issue from here until the next election, unless I am satisfied that the level of attention that has been given to this problem in our schools is strong enough.

I will draw just one thing to attention. Page 21 of the drug education framework talks about resource agencies and support services, and lists a whole host of them. The ACT community care alcohol and drug program is at the top of the list. It says that the alcohol and drug program works with the Canberra community to promote health and minimise the harm associated with alcohol and other drug use, that the program has an extensive range of resources on alcohol and other drugs, that pamphlets, fax sheets and posters are available in small quantities free of charge, and that the health promotion team provides professional training and education on a consultancy basis to all ACT school communities, so it is going to cost money. If we do not provide the resources to deal with this issue, then it is not going to happen and it will not be satisfactory.

There is no point in us saying to the community - the people we will have to convince on this issue - that we are prepared to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an important resource like the drug injecting room if we are not doing something at the preventive stages. The tom-toms tell me that alcohol and drugs used to have two educators, but now they have none as the health promotion service has been dismantled. That is what the tom-toms tell me. This evening the Government can confirm or deny that or tell me whatever it is that has replaced it, otherwise I am sure that it will tell me some time later.

Mr Speaker, this issue is one on which there can be controversial commentary. One radio station in the ACT has an appalling approach to it. Today I heard it advertising the telephone numbers of various politicians, applauding Mr Rugendyke's approach to the issue and dumping on Mr Moore and Mr Stanhope over their support for the proposal.

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