Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3740 ..
There is obviously not time to do all that in the next day, but I certainly, as Minister for Health, if I am Minister for Health after the election, would be very happy to look at pursuing that work with Mr Mulcahy in a way that I guess consults with the affected stakeholders and works out a reasonable way forward. I think the feeling of the Assembly is that we would all support that kind of approach.
But as Minister for Health, this is not an approach that I can support. Therefore, the government will not be supporting it. It is about, I guess, not having a very simple response to a much more complex issue and ensuring that a simple response does not cause more harm than it seeks to address.
When you look at the size of our illicit drug-taking community, it is very small. I just think we would need to do a lot more work before we could safely say that banning this equipment would not cause significant harm to that population. It is a vulnerable population; it is a population that experiences high levels of blood-borne viruses, and that impacts on their overall health and wellbeing. They are a community that we seek to support and that we seek to provide various health services to.
In conclusion, there is a stark contrast here now, established here this morning, between the Labor and the Liberal parties on this. We seek to support, educate, promote safe drug-taking behaviour, where it occurs, and the Liberals today have put that at risk.
Mr Seselja: You are really clutching, aren’t you, Katy?
MS GALLAGHER: I am not clutching at straws at all. I think Mr Seselja, who has been the shadow minister for illicit drugs policy for some time and has done absolutely nothing in that portfolio, has been exposed today by Mr Mulcahy’s bill. He has been exposed; he is embarrassed. He has to agree to it. We know that Mr Seselja is probably the single member in the opposition who has done the least across his portfolios, and this is an example of one of them—the much-trumpeted new portfolio on illicit drugs policy when he took over as Leader of the Opposition. My reading, across the health portfolio—and we do keep an eye on all these things—is that Mr Seselja has done nothing in this area.
Now he stands and says, “Yeah, Mr Mulcahy’s ideas are good; they are not perfect, but they are okay, so we will support them,” without any thorough analysis of what this decision and what the potential impact of this decision if it were supported today would have on the community that he seeks to represent as Chief Minister. Drug-takers are part of our community and they deserve the attention and the support that governments and the community can provide them. You have abandoned them today, Mr Seselja, and I am sure they will all be interested to hear that.
Thank you, Mr Mulcahy, for exposing a major difference between the Labor and Liberal parties and for exposing Mr Seselja’s complete inaction in an area of his portfolio responsibility. It has been most enjoyable.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.25): I have not heard such a weak-kneed response from a health minister in the 10 years that I have been in this place. Anybody reading