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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3018 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Kaine was elected on a platform of supporting referenda in this place. It is a sign of how far he has come in abandoning the principles on which he was elected that today he says he is opposed to a referendum on this issue.

I have put forward, and my colleague Mr Stefaniak has put forward, this issue as a way of providing a break in the deadlock which has beset this place on drugs issues. I do not believe that we are going to see a clear indication of direction on these issues unless the community is involved in resolving them. I do not believe that the issues which have stopped us from proceeding on these issues are going to be resolved, one way or the other, without there being a referendum. I believe we need that referendum, for that reason.

I think that today a major opportunity to see these issues advanced in the community's interests may well slip through our fingers. If this bill is defeated today-and I suspect that it may be-I think that this opportunity disappears and that the chance for the community to be active participants in making an important decision about the future of this policy will have disappeared.

I want reform on drug policy. My position has been very clear. But I do not believe that reform will occur unless we change the dynamics of the debate. If we do not support this Referendum Bill 2001 today, then we lose the chance to influence the way this debate will go in the broader community.

The cockpit of decision-making will move outside this community. Other places in Australia will perhaps over time take on these issues and advance them in their own particular way. The chance to conduct an injecting place trial in this territory was lost last year. Now, rather than the ACT being the leader in Australia, New South Wales is conducting a trial of this concept. We may well be eclipsed in other respects in this debate as well.

It is a matter of great regret to me. It is a matter of sadness. It is a vacuum of leadership-not by this government, which has had the courage to say to the community, "We want to involve you in this debate and want to respect the decisions you make in this debate, but by this place, this Legislative Assembly for the ACT." This place has had several opportunities to advance this debate. It has squibbed them all, and today it squibs one more.

MR RUGENDYKE (11.46): I rise in support of the referendum, as I wholeheartedly believe that the people in the community are entitled to have a say on the direction we take with combating the drug problem in our community.

Members are aware that I have a well-known and fixed position on these issues at the crux of the questions proposed in the bill. This was demonstrated by the fact that I took the extremely serious step of voting against the health line and the budget to stop the heroin shooting gallery going ahead last year.

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