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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1372 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

needles to injecting drug users has dropped by about 10 per cent-which takes account of less heroin being on the streets-but, even in the face of a significant decline in the availability of heroin, we still distributed between 650,000 and 700,000 needles in the ACT-I do not have the precise numbers So, there is still an enormous problem confronting us and for governments to deal with.

In the face of that, the government has been progressing initiatives in relation to the heroin trial and to the safe injecting place-an initiative that I reactivated after the re-energising of the legislation for a safe injecting place. The safe injecting place advisory committee has been re-formed. A number of the previous members of that committee are no longer available or have moved on, and we are in the process of appointing a number of new people to it. It has quite specific terms of reference, which it achieves under its legislation.

In discussing how to take on illicit drug and other drug use in the ACT, the government has to some extent been considering the formation of a task force. It is something that Ms Tucker has raised previously. It is a suggestion I was attracted to and indeed have acted on to the extent that I have already given notice-I do not know whether formally-to make a ministerial statement next week about the establishment of a drug task force. I will be doing that on Tuesday or Thursday next week.

The ACT government has already moved down this path. We have already developed terms of reference for the establishment of a drug task force; it is something we have been working on for some time now. I am pleased that Ms Tucker has been able to bring forward this motion. (Extension of time granted.) I am very pleased to acknowledge the extent to which Ms Tucker has driven the notion that the ACT develop a task force to deal-in the holistic way Mr Smyth described, using a broad community response-with drug and alcohol use and abuse in this community. I have no difficulty in accepting the motion; it reflects very much what the government is committed to. And I have no hesitation in acknowledging Ms Tucker's role in it.

A number of worrying indicators in the research available to us suggest that injecting drug users are becoming younger and younger, people are still dying every day from smoking and alcohol related diseases, hepatitis C is still the major notifiable disease in the ACT and is on the increase and amphetamine use is also on the increase. Amphetamines are insidious and more often than not generate aggression in users. The police report to me that the increased use of amphetamines has presented them with a range of problems that heroin use does not present.

We need to take account of this. The community generally applauds the heroin drought in the ACT, but that has led to increasing use of cocaine and amphetamines and to the increased injection of cocaine and amphetamines. Injecting those substances to get a certain effect, these users inject far greater amounts and far more frequently than heroin users do, who might inject only once or twice a day. Cocaine and amphetamine users sometimes inject 10 to 12 times a day, such frequent injection of those substances causing enormous physical damage. Workers in the field have told me that some users are

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