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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 143 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

approach to issues around drugs and drug law reform and the need for us to do something as a community to address this particularly important issue.

I have to say that we support the needle and syringe program. I think it is one of those things that we need to continue to concentrate on, particularly in the overall debate on harm minimisation and the programs that we need to implement. There is no doubt that the needle exchange program stands out, shines, as a beacon to what can be achieved when governments and communities are prepared to think laterally and show some courage; when governments are prepared to lead community debate on issues as vital as the need for us to care for ourselves as a community and to care for individuals within the community, particularly those who have a major health problem such as drug addiction.

The needle exchange program is something I support absolutely. I am not aware of the particular point that you make in relation to what the Community Care website says about whether or not we have 24-hour needle exchange. I thought we did. I thought needles were available on that basis. I will check the point that you make and I will be more than happy to respond to you directly. But I would like to assure you of this government's absolute commitment to the needle exchange program and our determination to continue to support it and to ensure that it provides an optimal service that meets the needs absolutely of all its clients.

MS DUNDAS: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Mr Stanhope, can I get your confirmation that your commitment is to a 24-hour access program for free needles in Canberra?

MR STANHOPE: I must say, Ms Dundas-and I am prepared to check this; I will take advice on it-that I thought we had a situation where needles were available around the clock. I think it is important that they are. I will take advice on exactly what the current situation and circumstances are in relation to the availability of needles. I will also take more general advice on the operations of the needle and syringe program and I will report back to you on that.

Road signs

MRS CROSS: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services, Mr Wood. On 16 October the Canberra Times ran a article about road signs which were erected to notify the ACT community of major construction projects being undertaken throughout Canberra. Mr Berry expressed shock and amazement and described the signs as extravagant. Now that the Labor Party has formed government, when will these signs be removed?

MR WOOD: Not immediately, I would think. I do not think we would want to go to the extravagance of taking them down straightaway.

MRS CROSS: I have a supplementary question. Mr Wood, as you are aware, Mr Berry also suggested that the Liberal Party should pay for these signs. As the signs have not been removed, should the Labor Party now pick up the bill, or do you consider that would be an extravagance, given that you are now in government?

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