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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2636 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

debate leading up to the referendum will be characterised by simplistic statements. I believe that the Canberra community will not be swayed by simplistic argument. They have a sophisticated understanding of the problems involved. I do not think that they will be hoodwinked by cheap rhetoric on either side. Arguing against a referendum on the basis that the people of Canberra are not sufficiently educated on the issues is no different from the argument put forward a century ago denying women the vote. The argument, of course, is bunkum.

This referendum offers us all a way forward. Most importantly, the referendum provides an opportunity for the people of Canberra to have their say. The government believes in community consultation. We believe in giving the community a greater say in government decision-making. To help promote debate in the community, the government will provide $20,000-that is, $5,000 for those developing a case on each of the two questions, to assist with the preparation and advocacy of cases. We will also establish a dedicated website with factual information and links to authoritative sites where further information can be found. For those without Internet access, we will also be looking at providing factual background information through our libraries and shopfronts.

I turn to the specifics of the bill. It contains two questions. Firstly, do you approve the running, in the ACT, of a trial of a supervised injecting room for people dependent on heroin? Secondly, do you approve the conducting of a clinical trial, in the ACT, for the controlled provision, under medical supervision, of heroin to people registered as dependent on heroin?

Members will recognise that there is a major issue with the referendum proposal. Current legislation requires that those members who vote in favour of a referendum proposal will form the affirmative team in terms of establishing the yes case, and vice versa. That would create a problem in the case of these issues as it is most likely that there will be members who will be in favour of a referendum, whilst wanting to be part of the no case. Accordingly, the bill provides for just such an eventuality, by requiring that members notify the Speaker, after a successful passage of the bill, which side of the debate they wish to be on. It will therefore be possible for members to be on the yes case for question one and the no case for question two, or vice versa or any other combination. A two-thirds majority will be needed for approval of each case.

The balance of the bill simply addresses the technical requirements of holding a referendum in this way. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stanhope ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Rehabilitation of Offenders (Interim) Bill 2001

Mr Moore , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (10.48): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

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