Page 2036 - Week 06 - Thursday, 26 June 2008

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This bill provides for a permanent arrangement to enable workers and employers to manage their affairs around a predictable compensatory framework. In doing so, the bill will lead to greater harmonisation of workers compensation arrangements in Australia by bringing the ACT into line with other jurisdictions and provide greater certainty for employers, insurers and injured workers overall. I commend this bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak) adjourned to the next sitting.

Health and Disability—Standing Committee

Report 6

Debate resumed from 8 May 2008, on motion by Ms MacDonald:

That the report be noted.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.10): I did not move that the debate be adjourned, because this is a really useful report and I thought that it deserved a bit more discussion in the Assembly.

It is very clear that the whole process was an educational one for committee members. Indeed, the report is an interesting synthesis of the information that is around on this topic. Like most people in the community, my knowledge of ice and related drugs based on methamphetamines comes from rather sensationalised media reports. For me, it was a little reassuring to see that the problem is not as large as the media would have us think.

It is also salutary to realise that people do use these drugs without necessarily suffering harm and without necessarily turning into the kinds of people that we see in some of the programs. That is the same with any drug. We know that many people use alcohol in quite a restrained way; they enjoy it and they do not become alcoholics.

There is a myth around that if you try a drug you will be hooked and that is it. Ice is in that category at the moment. Yet just anecdotally—from talking to young people that I know, not necessarily about their own lives but about their friends—there is quite widespread use of these drugs and related drugs. Not surprisingly, a lot of it is not for pleasure; a lot of it is just so they can get up and go to work, not just in the morning but whenever they do. Some people who work in the hospitality industry, for instance, have very long hours. I am told by people who work there that there is quite a high use of methamphetamines and related drugs just to keep them awake and keep them going through the day.

That is very worrying. It does not say as much about the drugs as it does about our system of work. Every now and again we do well to reflect upon that. We must remember that workers in a different time fought very hard for the eight-hour-a-day rule. In the 1970s—I believe it was—we were having debates about the increased amount of leisure that we were going to get as computers and other systems meant that we had to spend fewer hours at work. We all know that that is not the case. We take those demands upon ourselves.

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