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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3737 ..

Not that I have actually seen that jacket, Mr Mulcahy. That response I think highlights for me how transparent it is that it is not actually a bill about meaningful action; it is a bill about appearance. I am sympathetic to the concern that the public display of drug paraphernalia does to some extent normalise its use in the consumption of illicit drugs and that by allowing the public promotion and display of such items government then becomes complicit.

I would suggest that a better approach would be to put some limits on display of such items—something that has been a progression in the fight against the normalisation of tobacco, especially for young people. I am quite sure that Mr Mulcahy’s bill is aimed at young people in particular. I think that there are ways that we could approach it without actually banning it. I think this would be much more problematic. We would just turn this into a black market, which is the way drugs work anyway.

Unfortunately, Mr Mulcahy’s bill has only been around for a week. In the context of having a lot of other business before us, my office team and I just have not had a chance to look at sensible amendments that we could have submitted to adjust this bill or draft an amendment to another act in order to achieve a more purposeful outcome that would address the concerns that have been raised regarding the de facto promotion of illegal activities.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.11): I commend Mr Mulcahy for bringing forward this bill. I note a lot of the comments that we have had from both Mr Corbell and Dr Foskey in relation to it. There are some complexities in this area and I would like to address some of those.

We believe that we do need to have a comprehensive approach when it comes to dealing with illicit drugs. We need to deal with it at an education level; we need to deal with it very strongly at a law enforcement level, particularly for dealers of illicit substances and traffickers of illicit substances—and we make no apology for pursuing that very strongly—but we also need to look at rehabilitation for those, particularly young people, who find themselves with the scourge of drug addiction.

What we are dealing with here today is possibly an imperfect attempt but a reasonable attempt to deal with one of the anomalies in the way we deal with drugs in our community. We do not allow the sale of illicit drugs—and nor should we—and we have strong penalties for people who supply illicit drugs. On the other hand, we do tend to take a more compassionate approach to drug users, which is reasonable, although there is a fine balance there about the messages that we send to our young people about the appropriateness of drug use.

We have been hearing for a long time—in fact, until the last few years—more and more about how marijuana was just a soft drug and how it was not really a concern and it should be treated as a soft drug; whereas we are seeing more and more evidence now emerging in mental health that marijuana, particularly the stronger marijuana that we have seen developed in the last few years, does have serious issues and does create serious mental health issues and we should not be treating this drug lightly; nor should we be treating amphetamines and heroin and other drugs lightly. We do need to have a comprehensive approach.

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