Page 3298 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 20 August 2008

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maximum penalty for the sale of drug equipment is 100 penalty units, imprisonment for two years or both. For the sale of drug equipment to a child, the maximum penalty is 200 penalty units, imprisonment for two years or both.

My intention in creating such serious provisions was to ensure that the bill did what it was intended to do: stop the sale of drug paraphernalia in the Canberra community and most particularly to the most impressionable members of our community—children. The strict penalties will hopefully ensure that no vendor will run the risk of continuing to sell drug paraphernalia.

Mr Speaker, the Summary Offences (Drug Paraphernalia) Amendment Bill was passed in South Australia with the support of both the Labor government and the Liberal opposition. I would certainly hope that the Criminal Code (Drug Equipment) Amendment Bill that I am introducing today passes with the same support through the Assembly, but I will take the opportunity to address the main issue that has been raised previously in debates of this kind.

I anticipate that opponents, and particularly the Greens, will argue that this bill will not achieve results and lead to people turning to home-made options that, as I have already discussed in relation to the items that make up a cocaine kit, are readily accessible. The argument was made during the debate in South Australia that home-made bongs, for example, can lead to greater health problems because they are often made of plastic bottles. This in turn leads to potential carcinogenic fumes.

The first point that I would make is that you do not condone illegal behaviour in the hope that it will prevent another type of illegal practice from occurring. This simply does not make sense. Illegal drugs are just that—illegal—and we should be making it harder, not easier, for people to use them. To argue that preventing the sale of drug paraphernalia is contrary to the theory of harm minimisation is for me a step too far. I believe that harm minimisation as it relates to illicit drug use means identifying people with serious drug problems and providing the treatment and help that they need to recover from those addictions.

It means getting people into rehabilitation, getting them well and taking every initiative to limit the sale and uptake of illicit drugs. It does not mean effectively saying that people are going to do drugs anyway; so there is no point in making it harder for them to do so. Any value in the argument that banning the sale of drug paraphernalia will lead to people using home-made items is easily outweighed by the positive message that taking these items off shelves sends out to the community and particularly to our youth.

Mr Speaker, this bill will not solve all issues relating to illicit drugs in our community; not even close. It will, however, be a step in the right direction and enshrine in legislation the principle that the ACT does not believe that we should facilitate the use of illegal drugs by allowing the sale of drug paraphernalia like bongs and ice pipes.

The government itself has recognised the principle that displaying an item has the effect of normalising its use in the eyes of the community, and in particular children. The bill seeks to apply this principle to the scourge that is illicit drug use. It seeks to

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