Page 249 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2006

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There has never been a documented case of needles being used as a weapon in any prison which provides them, and there has not been an increase in drug consumption or injecting. As a result, there have been positive results and a decrease in hepatitis C and AIDS transmissions, as well, of course, as a reduction in overdoses, injection-related infections and an increased uptake on drug rehabilitation.

Harm reduction initiatives such as needle and syringe programs do not condone illegal drug use. I repeat that: they do not condone it. They recognise that reducing the transmission of blood-borne diseases and overdose deaths is a more urgent and achievable goal than ending illegal drug use. We support and assist the provision of needle exchange programs in our broader community. So it is just a small step to take it into our prisons.

The other matter to consider is that, if the prison is to be human rights compliant, the ACT government needs to offer the same health services to inmates as it does to the community. So I am hoping that Mr Corbell will soon advise the Assembly on the status of the prison health plan and why he felt it was okay to call in the prison design before that integral part was notified.

In relation to the former Acton hotel site, we have had representations from constituents with concerns about the buildings planned for that site, primarily, the height of those buildings. Our own concerns are: the access that people will have to the lake and whether we are going to see the privatisation of public space here. We feel that it is really important that we insist that that foreshore of the lake remain public space and easily accessible.

National Multicultural Festival

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Gentleman): Mr Speaker has received letters from me, Ms MacDonald, Mr Mulcahy, Ms Porter, Mr Smyth and Mr Stefaniak proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, he has determined that the matter proposed by Ms Porter be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The importance of the National Multicultural Festival in maintaining ethnic diversity and harmony in the ACT community.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.20): I am pleased to have the opportunity this afternoon to highlight the importance of the National Multicultural Festival in maintaining ethnic diversity and harmony in the ACT community. The festival has provided Canberrans and interstate visitors with the opportunity to celebrate our diversity and social harmony, and they have been doing so in record numbers.

Since the commencement of the festival on 6 February this year there have been record attendances at the main festival events; at the fringe festival every night at the Street Theatre; at the Canberra Theatre, which staged the international Chinese performance Beijing visions on Wednesday, attended by 520 people; and at the international concert last Friday evening, attended by 625 people. The 2006 food and dance spectacular, held

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