Page 1173 - Week 04 - Thursday, 17 March 2005

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Given the strong support of Australian vice-chancellors for a compulsory service fee the Group of Eight notes its disappointment that the Minister and the government have chosen to ignore this advice …

Penalising universities that seek to levy a compulsory fee for health services, for example, will be a watershed in the history of higher education and may forever change the sense of campus community that has a long and proud tradition in this country.

Week after week Australians are starting to see the true agenda of this federal government. It is a narrow-sighted, divisive, ideologically driven agenda without any foundation in good public policy or good outcomes for everyday Australians.

Law reform—drugs

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the Attorney-General. I refer to two related articles in today’s newspaper, one calling for an evaluation of the new drug laws that came into effect at the beginning of this month and the other concerning the apprehension of a couple growing 30 plants hydroponically in their home, which is supposedly the kind of situation that the new laws were put into place to address. Applying Mr McConnell’s analysis would indicate that the earlier legislation would have been just as effective in dealing with these growers.

With that in mind, could the Attorney-General please inform the Assembly whether he, or the government, intends to, first, monitor and report to the Assembly on the impact of the new laws to assess whether they decrease the availability of cannabis in our community and reduce its use, particularly by young people; and, second, assess the impact of the laws on the involvement of users with the criminal system.

MR STANHOPE: I am very aware of the views of Mr McConnell and the Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform in relation particularly to the decision to toughen some of the penalties that apply to the growing, possession or distribution of cannabis. I am also aware of the views of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform in relation to the decision to reduce, in the context of the SCON scheme, the number of plants from five to two.

I have said before, and I said it at the time of the coming into effect of the new arrangements on, I think, 9 March, that many of the decisions made by government—I am sure that this applies to all governments—in relation to the criminal law and the impact of the criminal law would be, I think, amongst the hardest decisions that politicians make. For me, many of them are.

I did have difficulty in coming to the conclusion I came to that it was appropriate, on the basis of advice from ACT Policing, that we reduce the number of plants from five to two. I am aware of the arguments for and against. I believe that the police made a compelling argument in relation to the infiltration of the Canberra drug scene or market by organised crime, the implications in relation to the capacity to grow hydroponically marijuana plants of a size or order that I would think even five or 10 years ago was essentially unimaginable, and the fact that organised crime will go to enormous lengths to subvert the law and subvert schemes put into place designed, in this sense, to

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