Page 923 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 April 2014

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A regulatory authority authorises the sale of drugs for non-medical purposes after determining a drug to be low risk and non-addictive. It licenses manufacturers and retailers, it regulates advertising of the products, and it sets up a system of health warnings for active products. Any approved drugs would be restricted to people over 18 years old and could not be sold in supermarkets, convenience stores or petrol stations. Advertising is restricted to the point of sale. Drugs already deemed illegal would remain so.

What does this new approach mean? Essentially New Zealand has set up a regulated, scientific and health-based approach to psychoactive substances. Although it has been lauded as a world first and labelled cutting edge, I do not think we should necessarily see it that way. Making health and science based decisions for the good of the broader community should be a prime consideration in the minds of policymakers.

The New Zealand approach is almost the opposite approach to the one taken here in Australia, where we attempt to ban products as they emerge. The associate minister for health in New Zealand summed up their approach when he spoke on the legislation. He said:

… this regime will be fundamentally based on reversing the onus of proof so those who profit from these products will have to prove they are as safe as is possible for psychoactive substances … We will no longer play the cat-and-mouse game of constantly chasing down substances after they are on the market.

One clear impact of New Zealand’s law is that already the number of outlets selling psychoactive substances has been reduced from 3,000 or 4,000 to 170 as corner stores lost the right to sell. Also, the scheme allows local communities to have a say in where and when stores that sell psychoactive substances are allowed to open.

I raise this issue today and draw attention to the New Zealand model as I believe this is an approach the ACT can explore by raising the issue with our state, territory and federal counterparts. I look forward to having further talks with the Chief Minister and with the Attorney-General on this topic. I hope that in this Assembly term we can take some strides towards a more health-focused policy response to psychoactive substances.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Planning and Development (Extension of Time) Amendment Bill 2014

Mr Barr, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Community Services) (10.38): I move:

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