Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3738 ..
The fundamental disconnect is in the message that we are sending. I think Mr Mulcahy is essentially attempting to get to the heart of that. We have been having a debate about the display of tobacco products. So we have got a government that is more concerned about the display of a legal product, as harmful as it is—and we support curbs on tobacco advertising; we support moves to get people away from smoking—but we do have a disconnect in the way that it is treated.
We have heard of the extreme example overseas where, in Amsterdam, where tobacco is banned in some places but marijuana is not, people who mix their tobacco with their marijuana are having to take the tobacco out, in order to comply with the law. You do get these absurd outcomes in the way we approach drugs.
I think the display issue is an absolute no-brainer. We should not be able to display bongs. The message that sends is that illicit drug use is normal and that that is reasonable. There are some concerns about some of the detail of this. Look, for instance, at the definition of a drug pipe. When you talk about modifications, that could potentially apply to anything.
We do not think this is a perfect piece of legislation but we have to look at the principle behind saying, “These are illicit products.” We do not want young people engaging in drug-taking activity. We know of course that it does go on but we want to have measures that would reduce drug use in our community. I do not think that displaying bongs and selling bongs assists with the messages that we want to send.
We know that there is no perfect answer. We know that the passage of a piece of legislation like this is not going to stop drug use in our community, but it may well reduce it and it may well move towards helping reduce it and helping change our culture. Young people are much smarter than we give them credit for. The idea that giving clear messages about what drug use is and what it is not does not work. I think it is flawed. I think, when people do see a clear cause and effect in their behaviour, many young people will make the right decision as a result. When we downplay the effects of illicit drugs, I think we do them a disservice.
As I say, we think this is an imperfect attempt but, in principle, we do not have a problem with it and we are happy to support the legislation.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability and Community Services, Minister for Women) (11.16): I thank Mr Mulcahy for the opportunity to talk about this bill from a health perspective. I think it is important to note that, when we look at the burden of disease in Australia, the latest data shows that 52 per cent of the burden of disease in our community comes from cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory and musculoskeletal conditions and the burden of disease from illicit substance abuse accounts for about two per cent of the total disease burden in the country. Just from a health point of view, you can see that the health response and the health concerns are very much targeted at how you manage, in a very safe and healthy way, people with illicit drug use behaviour.
All the advice to me, as Minister for Health, when I have talked about this with stakeholders who work in the alcohol and drug sector, is that banning equipment like