Full Day Hansard Transcript (Legislative Council, 26 June 2007, Corrected Copy)

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LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

Tuesday 26 June 2007
__________
The President (The Hon. Peter Thomas Primrose) took the chair at 2.30 p.m.

The President read the Prayers.

The PRESIDENT: I acknowledge the Gadigal clan of the Eora nation and its elders and thank them for their custodianship of this land.
ASSENT TO BILL

Assent to the following bill reported:

Guardianship Amendment Bill 2007
ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT

The PRESIDENT: I report the receipt of the following from Her Excellency the Governor:

Marie Bashir Office of the Governor
GOVERNOR Sydney 2000

Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales, has the honour to inform the Legislative Council that she re-assumed the administration of the Government of the State on 23 June 2007.

23 June 2007
STATUTE LAW (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) BILL 2007
PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT OPERATIONS AMENDMENT (WASTE) BILL 2007
ENERGY AND UTILITIES ADMINISTRATION AMENDMENT (CLIMATE CHANGE FUND) BILL 2007
POLICE SUPERANNUATION LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2007
SUPERANNUATION LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2007
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE AMENDMENT (LOCAL COURT PROCESS REFORMS) BILL 2007
BROTHELS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2007

Bills received from the Legislative Assembly.

Leave granted for procedural matters to be dealt with on one motion without formality.

Motion, by leave, by the Hon. John Della Bosca agreed to:

That the bills be read a first time and printed, standing orders be suspended on contingent notice for remaining stages and the second readings of the bills be set down as orders of the day for a later hour of the sitting.

Bills read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Second readings set down as orders of the day for a later hour.
DISTINGUISHED VISITOR

The PRESIDENT: Order! I acknowledge the presence in my gallery of Johno Johnson, a former President of the Legislative Council.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON LAW AND JUSTICE
Government Response to Report

The Hon. Tony Kelly tabled the Government's response to report No. 32, entitled "Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts", tabled on 23 November 2006.

Ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Tony Kelly.
PETITION
Unborn Child Protection

Petition requesting statistical reporting of abortions, legislative protection of foetuses of 20 weeks gestation, and availability of resources for post-abortion follow-up, received from Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Postponement of Business

Business of the House Notices of Motions Nos 1 and 2 postponed on motion by the Hon. Duncan Gay.
POLITICAL FUNDRAISING
Personal Explanation

Ms LEE RHIANNON, by leave: I wish to make a personal explanation. On Thursday last week in reply to a question I put to Treasurer Michael Costa he said he hoped that I would declare to the Electoral Commission a donation received from a developer. Neither I nor the Greens New South Wales have to declare a donation from Mr Johnson or any other developer as no donations have been accepted from developers. Mr Costa referred to a Newcastle Herald article that quoted a Lake Macquarie property developer, Mr Keith Johnson, as saying he has "occasionally [given money] to the Greens". We have not accepted any donation from Mr Keith Johnson. Late on the evening of 6 February Mr Johnson made an on-line credit card donation of $1,000 in his own name to the Greens. The next morning, when the donation was being processed, a diligent worker in the Greens office recognised Mr Johnson's name and the donation was rejected.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Postponement of Business

Government Business Order of the Day No. 1 postponed on motion by the Hon. Tony Kelly.
APEC MEETING (POLICE POWERS) BILL 2007
INDUSTRIAL AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (APEC PUBLIC HOLIDAY) BILL 2007
Second Reading

Debate resumed from 21 June 2007.

Ms SYLVIA HALE [2.45 p.m.]: Prior to the debate being adjourned I was outlining to the House the three grounds on which the Greens oppose the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill. First, the bill gives to the police powers that are disproportionate to the risk the city faces; second, that these new powers are not subject to judicial review and represent an increase in the discretionary powers available to the police; and, third, the bill dramatically diminishes the ability of citizens to engage in political and legitimate protest. The Greens do not oppose the cognate bill, the Industrial and Other Legislation Amendment (APEC Public Holiday) Bill.

On the last occasion I was referring to the power created by the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill for the Commissioner of Police to create a list of excludable persons who will be barred from entering the APEC security zone. There is no requirement in the bill for a person to be notified that he or she is on the list. There is no restriction on the publication of the list, nor is there a requirement that it be published. There is no judicial review or right of appeal if a person objects to being placed on such a list. The exclusion list is a device created to intimidate people who may wish to attend a protest rally during the APEC summit. It is designed to discourage demonstrations by instilling uncertainty and fear into anyone who may be considering attending a lawful demonstration. Its purpose is to stigmatise all those who wish to exercise their democratic right to dissent as being, by inference, inherently violent and subversive of public order. It is about avoiding international embarrassment for both the State and Federal governments. It is not about maintaining security.

The very idea of allowing the police to create secret lists of political activists is dangerous. It has been tried before and has failed. We used to have police special branches throughout the country collecting information and keeping secret files on Australian citizens. Look at how that played out. The South Australian Special Branch, for example, was the subject of a judicial inquiry initiated by the South Australian Labor Government led by Don Dunstan. A paper entitled "Wayward Governance: Illegality and Its Control in the Public Sector," written by a leading criminologist and an Australian National University professor, Paul Graboski—which was published by the Australian Institute of Criminology—gives an outline of what the judicial inquiry discovered when it examined the South Australian Special Branch. Professor Graboski noted:

What Special Branch did was collect information about various individuals and groups in South Australia. Whilst their guidelines were not explicit, Special Branch officers were concerned with Communist and related organisations, and other activities which they [the Special Branch] regarded as extremist or subversive.

Although it relied primarily on newspaper accounts, Special Branch also received information from police in the course of normal duties, and engaged agents who infiltrated target groups and reported back to Special Branch. Special Branch was the primary point of liaison between the South Australian police and ASIO, the federal government's counter-intelligence organisation.

By 1977, the amount of information which Special Branch had amassed was considerable. It held about 3,000 separate dossiers and over 40,000 index cards. Individual persons were the subject of some 28,500 cards. Aside from the existence and scope of such a surveillance system, its most significant characteristic was its political bias. There were extensive files on Labor Party parliamentarians including some evidence that, from time to time, they were under physical surveillance at public meetings. All but two of the state and federal Labor parliamentarians were in Special Branch files. The proportion of Liberal parliamentarians who were the subject of files was much less than half.

Files were kept on the leaders of the trade union movement and on individual unions. There were cards on judges, magistrates, and at least one former governor of South Australia. Even religious leaders were under surveillance … Even prayer meetings for peace were watched and recorded … Other causes whose exponents had aroused sufficient suspicion within Special Branch to warrant systematic attention included women's liberation, the anti-apartheid movement, and a group favouring reform of South Australia's divorce laws. Material on conservatives and their causes, not to mention right-wing extremists, was relatively rare.

That is what the special inquiry found when it looked at South Australia, and similar situations prevailed in other States, including New South Wales. One has to ask: Has the Labor Party learnt nothing from history? The Labor Party, through leading figures such as Don Dunstan and Lionel Murphy, fought long and hard to get rid of this sort of secretive, political targeting by State and Federal police and security forces. Yet we now have the bill presented by a Labor Government that re-establishes those same sorts of secretive lists and files that a former generation of Labor leaders fought so hard to stop. Is the modern Labor Party now so comfortably ensconced in the bosom of the establishment that it thinks it will not be targeted by secret police files? Or is Labor feeling that because it is in power the police will only do the surveillance that Labor wants? If so, that is a very foolish and dangerous assumption. As the Institute of Criminology paper points out:

The South Australian Police concealed the extent of political surveillance in which its officers were engaged on at least three different occasions between 1970 and 1977. The circumstances were to culminate in the dismissal of a police commissioner.

That is what happened in South Australia. Our own history shows us that if you give police these sorts of discretionary secret powers, the Government is unable to control how they are used. Some members may ask themselves: Does any of this matter? In a post-9/11 world is it not all justified? The Greens say that it does matter. The events of 9/11 cannot be used to justify something that we know from our history will cause harm to many innocent individuals. In his report into the South Australian Special Branch, Justice White said:

Material which I know to be inaccurate, and sometimes scandalously inaccurate, appears in some dossiers and on some cards. Some of this information appears to have been used in "vetting" procedures. I have seen a number of cards where information, patently false to my own knowledge, has been used to the attempted disadvantage of certain persons.

To knowingly re-establish such a credited system of secret police files and lists is reckless and disgraceful. It is for that reason that I will be moving to delete the "exclusion list" from the bill. However, the exclusion list is not the only problematic part of the bill. In addition, the bill limits the liability of police for actions in nuisance; makes it an offence to enter restricted areas without justification, with a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment or two years imprisonment if the person entering an area has a "prohibited item", such as a can of spray paint; extends the sunset clause for covert searches under the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2002; reverses the onus of proof; and dispenses in many instances with the need for police to apply for search warrants. The bill also states that persons who do not obey police directions can be removed from a declared area.

The Greens understand that terrorism is a threat and that appropriate security arrangements are required during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. But this bill is an overreaction. The police already have sufficient powers to ensure public safety, to protect visiting dignitaries and to thwart any actual terrorist threat. It is perfectly clear that many people are intensely unhappy about what is happening in the world today. They want to make their views known, for example, about the ongoing war in Iraq or the appalling stance of the governments of the United States of America and Australia on climate change. They may wish to protest against the repression of human rights in the Russian Federation or China. Expressing such views through peaceful protest is a legitimate democratic right, and it should not be undermined by a climate of fear and the use of repressive laws.

In this bill fear clouds judgment and legitimate protest is repressed. Laws expanding police powers have usually been introduced in response to law and order stories in the popular press or to a specific incident. The excuse in this case is the gathering of overseas leaders in Sydney. The Greens are not the only people who argue that the powers envisaged in this bill are excessive. On 15 June the Sydney Morning Herald's legal commentator, Richard Ackland, commented in his column on the impending legislation, remarking:

It is likely to leave right-minded people utterly speechless.

He also noted:

When you look at the masses of existing law giving the law enforcers ample power to control human movement and gatherings, you wonder what this inflated police state legislation is all about.

Similarly, other outside observers have also cautioned about curtailing the essential freedoms in a democracy. Brian Martin, Professor of Technology and Science at the University of Wollongong and coordinator of the Citizen Advocacy Network, has made some relevant points. He notes that redefining those who might be dissenters can make them potential threats. As Professor Martin points out:

Challenging the status quo is a difficult business. Dominant groups have various ways to limit the effectiveness of challengers, including promoting a narrow conception of "acceptable protest" … and, if necessary, using repression. The very idea of "protest" should be considered suspect, because it diverts attention away from the routine activities of powerful groups.

Similarly, Clive Hamilton, the Executive Director of the Australia Institute and author of two bestsellers, Growth Fetish and Affluenza, in his latest work, Silencing Dissent , has highlighted another significant point, namely, that in a democracy any government that claims to support freedom of speech and freedom of choice should not try to preclude certain kinds of speech and choices, simply because they might be unacceptable to the government. It is a pity that the former President of this House, Dr Meredith Burgmann, is not here today to inform the House about the way in which police powers were used in the past to stop her making legitimate protests on issues such as the apartheid regime in South Africa. History also warns us against listening too closely to those who wish to expand police powers in a democracy. We would do well to reflect on another time when there was a push to greatly increase police powers. It was just over half a century ago, a time of police informers and agent provocateurs, and the then Attorney General was pushing through legislation expanding police powers. He informed Parliament that society faced a grave threat and that "remedial legislation is an urgent necessity to combat the evil". It was the Commissioner of Police of the day, Colin Delaney, who informed the country what were the two great menaces facing Australia at that time. They were communism and homosexuality. There might even be members in this Chamber today considering the implications of what might have happened to them if such legislation had been passed.

In concluding, I refer members again to the work of Professor Grabosky, one of this country's leading and most internationally respected writers and researchers in the area of criminology, policing and public policy. Professor Grabosky makes the point that freedom of expression and freedom of association are among the most fundamental values of a liberal society, and that the uninhibited exchange of ideas is a hallmark of democratic political life. He points out that thought and the discussion of public issues may be suppressed explicitly through censorship or outright prohibitions of public assembly but it may be inhibited more subtly. The mere possibility that a person's movements and words are or might become the subject of police attention may be enough to discourage a person from exercising his or her rights and responsibilities as the citizen of a democratic society. Professor Grabosky says in his paper:

A healthy democracy requires that the expression of contending viewpoints be encouraged. But under a system of state surveillance, the cost of dissenting may be such that some citizens will exclude themselves from public life. The uncertainty of whether or not one is under surveillance may erode the sense of self and sense of autonomy, which are requisites of active citizenship. In a society where surveillance is undertaken on any significant scale, a climate of suspicion is created, trust, the central element of the social fabric, is weakened. Clandestine surveillance and records thereof pose other threats as well. Malicious accusation or merely erroneous recording practices may result in false information being kept on a person. Secret files and their keepers are not accountable. They are not accessible to their subjects for review and possible correction.

The point Professor Grabosky is making and with which the Greens concur is that we should all be very wary of giving up our freedoms: freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom to dissent. These are all essentials of a true democracy and we give them away at our peril.

Mr IAN COHEN [3.02 p.m.]: I support the comments of Ms Sylvia Hale, who led for the Greens on the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill. This is an extremely important piece of legislation, in a negative sense. While everybody is talking about the strong legislative response to the perceived threat of disruption and/or terrorism at the upcoming APEC meeting in September, it is worth noting that there has been an equally strong response from civil society about the parallel issue of public participation from people in the community who are concerned about their legitimate right to assemble in proximity to these meetings to express a dissenting point of view.

Greens members of Parliament have spoken and will speak on the need to ensure the safety of the visiting APEC leaders. Of course, this is important and integral to the success APEC. They have also spoken of the Government's duty to balance that safety with the fundamental democratic right to peaceful protest. Experience in this State shows that at times the police have had very little tolerance for demonstrations against politicians. This issue cuts straight to the heart of what it means to live in a democracy and the very meaning of participatory democracy. We are now living in the climate century, as my fellow member Dr John Kaye has dubbed it. Many issues will be discussed at APEC, but climate change is the issue of our time and it is on the meeting agenda. Politicians from the major parties have clearly established that they are unwilling and unable to deal with the threat of dangerous climate change. Many passionate people in our country are able and willing to lead politicians towards climate solutions. Access to public space adjacent to the APEC meeting is fundamental to the ability of these citizens to do that job. Access to public space is critical to participating in climate debate and communicating clearly the will of the Australian people to our Government and to foreign governments. For a true democracy to function well, it is essential that people are encouraged to participate in public debate and that they do so. This bill does not encourage ordinary people who are concerned about issues to express themselves on the streets.

Bill Moyer, a man of some history in the civil rights movement, has written a great deal about these issues in the context of successful social movements and their great contribution to society. It is useful to touch on his work briefly to establish clearly the benefit to the community and to our society of a robust culture of participatory democracy. This APEC bill has the potential to undermine that culture, to replace optimistic public participation with secret lists and police intimidation. The presence of a robust public debate during the APEC meeting must not be treated as marginal. It should not be pushed to the very fringes of this event and should most certainly not be excluded entirely, which is what this bill threatens to do. Bill Moyer, who lived from 1933 to 2002, for close to 40 years was an activist engaged in movements for civil rights, peace and the environment. Initially trained as an engineer, Bill was introduced to the philosophy and practice of non-violence by Quaker friends. He completed a degree in social work and became involved in campaigns for civil rights and housing integration, working closely with Martin Luther King and other members of the Southern Christian Leaders Conference during the summer of 1966. He is the author of The Movement Action Plan, in which he states:

STRATEGIC ASSUMPTION OF THE M. A. PLAN.
      1 Social movements are proven to be powerful
      Social movements have been a powerful means for ordinary people to participate directly in creating positive social change, particularly when formal channels for democratic political participation do not work. They are more numerous and powerful than ever. Much acclaim is given to the social movements of the 1960s, but those of the 1970s and 1980s were bigger and more numerous. The crisis of bigger danger and bigger problems will provide the impetus for bigger social movements and further opportunities for change.

      2 Movements are at the centre of society
      Most social movements are not exceptional, rare, protest events on society's fringe, but are at the centre of society's "historicity", the on-going process of society evolving and redefining itself. Social movements are deeply grounded in the fundamental values of justice, democracy, civil liberties and freedom. They oppose vested interests that use public offices and corporate institutions in ways that violate these principles.

      3 The real issue is social justice versus vested interest
      In their attempts to promote democracy, justice, peace. ecological sustainability and the general social welfare, social movements must opposed the excessive power and interests of elite power holders. The consequence of such opposition is, inevitably, conflict with the political and economic and corporate powerholders.

      Movement activists must neither become discouraged nor believe their movement is losing when power holders do not change their minds or policies. Even though a social movement may be supported by a majority who oppose the current policies and conditions, power holders will fight until it becomes in their interests to change.

      4 The grand strategies to promote participatory democracy
      The grand strategy of social movements is to promote participatory democracy through people power, in which an ever increasing majority of ordinary citizens is alerted, won over and becomes involved in addressing critical social problems and achieving progressive change. Political power rests ultimately with the general population. The official powerholders in any society can only rule as long as they have the consent of the people. Ultimately, the general population will only give this consent as long as those who govern are seen to be upholding the public trust and basic morals, values and the interests of the whole society.

      5 The target constituency is the ordinary citizen
      The primary target constituency of social movement is ordinary citizens, not the powerholders. Social change movements are only as powerful as the power of their grassroots support. The chief task of activists, therefore, is to focus on and win over the public, not to change of minds and policies of official powerholders.

      [The implication of this point is that] … the formal powerholders will not change their policies until there is an overwhelming pressure from the general population. Ignoring this reality is a chief source activists' feelings of powerlessness and movement failure.

      6 Success is a long-term process, not an event
      The process of putting a social problem on society's agenda, winning a large majority and subsequently achieving long-range movement goals occurs over many years. This lengthy process includes reaching many sub-goals along the way.

      7 Social movements must be non-violent
      Following Ghandi and King, the ideology and method of non-violence provides social movements with the optimum opportunity to win over and involve the general citizenry in people power.

      Non-violence:
      · allows the broadest cross-section of society to participate
      · is based on and appeals to timeless national, cultural, humans and religious values
      · is less threatening to ordinary citizens
      · forces the means to be consistent with the ends - they are the ends in the making
      · has the capacity to reduce the effectiveness of police and state violence
      · makes it difficult for agent provocateurs to disrupt or discredit movements

      By quoting these assumptions from the Movement Action Plan I hope to have established the value of social movements generally. In speaking of the rise of community concern about climate change in regard to the APEC agenda I point out that this is a movement that should be nurtured, not excluded; we do that at our peril.

      This bill gives police extraordinary powers to deal with citizens protesting during September's APEC conference, and authorises the police commissioner to create the infamous "list" of people who can be excluded from APEC security areas. The office of the New South Wales Police Minister says people do not need to be told whether they are on the list—"they know who they are". I wonder whether I am.

      The Government is seriously suggesting that people simply intuit whether they are on the list or not. It is an interesting new direction that the Government is taking with law and order. If this is evidence of the future direction of the Iemma Government, perhaps in addition to rebates for water tanks and solar panels, which the Greens support, the Government should also look into rebates for crystal balls or oracles to inform people whether or not they are complying with the law.

      In all my years of taking peaceful direct action, of attending community rallies and demonstrations, I have never come across the idea of a secret list before. I did not think I would see the day in Australia when a government would compile such a list seeking to exclude Australian citizens from a public space. As I understand this issue, if I turn up to protest I have absolutely no way of knowing whether I am on a list of excludable people. I have no way of knowing whether the police are exercising proper and appropriate powers to exclude me from the restricted area. This is a disturbing precedent in this State. It is the not so thin edge of a large wedge that the Government is looking to drive between citizens in relation to their right to protest.
The New South Wales Council of Civil Liberties says that creating a secret list of people to be excluded from central Sydney during the APEC conference is "an act of political intimidation". They have well­founded concerns that the legislation will make people think twice before participating in legitimate protest. This culture of secrecy also creates practical problems for police management of the APEC event. In my experience, where protests have occurred peacefully, where the right balance has been struck between conducting meetings and allowing people to express a dissenting view, it has been good communication between protesters and police that has gotten results. Police continually appeal to the activist community for information and cooperation ahead of events where there is a potential for conflict. When police start creating secret lists they are not modelling the behaviour that they expect to see in the activist community. This will have a corrosive effect on trust and goodwill, which are crucial ingredients of any negotiations between police and protesters.

I am deeply concerned that those who have drafted this bill do not understand some of the direct effects that it could have on our State. By continually eroding our democratic rights to protest the Government is marginalising those who are concerned enough to get up and do something. This builds a culture wherein people get stuck in "protest" mode. Moyer also wrote on this issue:

When activists believe they cannot achieve change, they can get stuck in the role of the protestor or dissident, without balancing this role with strategies and programs for positive change and alternatives. Attitudes of anger, hostility and frustration lead to activities that turn the public against the movement. When activists believe that their movement is having no effect, frustration and anger at injustice can spill over into acts of desperation, without realising that such activities hurt the movement by alienating the public.

If this bill is passed, it may well create feelings of anger, hostility and frustration in certain parts of our society at a time when the global problem of climate change demands that we create feelings of optimism, positivity and community empowerment.

In closing I say that, whilst I recognise that police have a job to do during this meeting, I believe they already have more than enough power to do that job. It is important to create a safe environment for this meeting to proceed. It is more important still to create a safe environment that nurtures a democratic movement that saves our climate and achieves real progress on social justice and environmental issues.

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [3.15 p.m.]: The Christian Democratic Party supports the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill and cognate bill, which are very important and timely. The bills deal with the declaration of a public holiday to provide greater opportunity for security for those who attend the APEC meetings in Sydney. The APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill provides a special range of powers to assist police in securing the APEC conference, and the cognate bill supports the public holiday that has been declared for the metropolitan region on 7 September.

APEC will be the largest and most significant international meeting in Australia. The meeting attracts large protest groups from other countries. I believe the bill is essential to ensure that New South Wales police have the necessary powers to keep the event and Sydneysiders safe. In the past when protests have become violent—as has occurred in other places, for which I will give evidence in a moment—quite often innocent passers-by caught up in the protests have suffered injuries. Police need these new powers, not just for the event but to protect anyone who may be in the Sydney metropolitan area at the time.

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Group 2007 comprises a series of meetings culminating in the APEC Leaders Week to be held in Sydney between 2 and 9 September. I have been making some inquiries into what has happened in previous APEC conferences. They have been characterised by very large, violent protests. I note that none of the Greens members who spoke opposing the bill acknowledged the threats from violent protestors or terrorists.

Ms Lee Rhiannon: There is no threat from violent protestors. It is total misrepresentation.

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: You made no acknowledgement. It was as if the bill is in some kind of space somewhere, in isolation from the real world. You did not recognise that. I am simply pointing that out. Most members of the Parliament are very much aware of the dangers that occur from violent protests as well as from terrorists. Some members may have seen the graduation ceremony held recently in Afghanistan for some 200 or so—

[ Interruption]
The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind all honourable members that interjections are disorderly at all times. The debate has proceeded in an appropriate manner, and it is appropriate that Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile be able to put his case without interruption.

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: Al-Qaeda invited a television unit to film the graduation ceremony of about 200 suicide bombers. The leader made it very clear during that graduation ceremony that these people had been trained not to attack American soldiers in Afghanistan or even in Iraq. He said, "These men have been trained to take action against Western nations", such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America or Australia." I do not know whether he was referring to the APEC meetings but he specifically made that statement. He was not talking about using these suicide bombers in Afghanistan or Iraq but in Western nations.

I looked up what happened in the previous APEC meetings. In November 2004 in Chile hooded anti­American marchers protesting the summit hurled Molotov cocktails and stones at police. About 100 people were arrested and a number were injured. We are talking about something completely different from what we might call a peaceful protest by some teenage university students. These are quite violent, well-organised protests. I have photographs showing that many of the protesters in Chile were supplied with large, heavy poles—about six feet long—with which to attack the police, who were wearing riot gear and carrying shields.

In November 2005 in South Korea there were protests against the summit and very large confrontations. It was said that 30,000 police had to be deployed in and around the summit. Several hundred protesters made their way into the city of Busan and tried to get to the venue by pushing past a police line, but they were stopped. The protesters failed to break through a makeshift police barricade of ocean liner cargo containers and cross a bridge on to the grounds of the convention centre. That demonstrates the desperate actions the police had to take. They did not just erect normal barricades, because the protesters just push them over. The protesters sometimes pick up the barricades and throw them at police. The police in Busan had to use ocean liner cargo containers as barricades in the city streets. A number of police officers were injured from rocks thrown by protesters. Some rocks were said to be the size of volleyballs. Yet Greens members claim that this legislation is unnecessary.

It was revealed on 4 June that an anarchist group linked to violence at last year's G20 summit has rejected the idea of any peaceful protests at September's APEC summit in Sydney. The group called Mutiny has reportedly convinced the group organising the main APEC protest—the Stop Bush Coalition—to remove a reference to "peaceful protest" from its advertising materials. The organisers of the G20 protest in November last year identified Mutiny members as perpetrators of violence at the summit, along with another accused group, Arterial Bloc.

This is why we need this legislation. The group called Mutiny has issued an open letter that opposes publicising the process as peaceful. The group considers that insisting on a peaceful protest seems naive or dangerously cynical. It says in its letter that such action would be aligned with the repression of dissent. The threats are credible. Therefore why the Government believes it is necessary to have listed the names of people who may potentially cause violence during the APEC summit. I assume that all members of the group called Mutiny, if they can be identified, will be on the list. A report in the radical newspaper Green Left Weekly says that Mutiny had a motion passed at a meeting of the Stop Bush Coalition to remove the words "peaceful protest" from advertising material.

As we know, there were protests at the G20 meetings last year in Melbourne. Eleven people were arrested after rioters in white-hooded suits and bandannas—concealing their identity—smashed a police car and injured a number of officers. Organisers of the G20 protest said that members of Mutiny and Arterial Bloc were responsible for the violence. Threats of violent protests are already on the record. That is why I support the provisions allowing the compilation of a list of persons who may need to be monitored by the New South Wales Police Force. When the media asked police Minister David Campbell to reveal the list of names he said:

Those who have been involved in violent and disruptive protests in the past will most likely be on this list. They won't need to be informed—they know who they are.

I support that statement. It is also very sad that the Government has had to prohibit certain dangerous weapons. One such weapon, which I have never heard of before, is a caltrop. A caltrop has metal spikes, a very nasty weapon. I support the provision that a person caught with a caltrop may be jailed for 14 years, although I doubt that would happen. These multi-pronged spikes could be used by protesters and/or terrorists to blow-out tires of official or other vehicles moving around the city with leaders of various nations, such as President Bush and others. They could be used to attack a motorcade, to injure police horses or to throw at people. These four­pointed spikes have been used by extremist protesters overseas.

The bill is necessary. I will not go into detail about the protest in Melbourne but we all were shocked when we saw the illegal and out-of-control scenes on television. Hooded thugs were rampaging through Melbourne streets smashing cars and attacking people. The police were unable to contain the violence. I am sure those messages have now registered with the New South Wales Police Force, the Minister for Police, the Commissioner of Police and the Government. They do not want this State to be vulnerable to violent protests. In previous years there were peaceful protests but today protests are very violent.

The legislation will create police powers in declared areas: to establish checkpoints; to allow for bag and other searches; to prohibit certain items and allow for their confiscation; to exclude certain persons; to allow for the control of roads and traffic zones; to give reasonable directions; and to allow for the use of police animals—I assume horses and dogs. The legislation will also create additional police powers in restricted areas to enter premises, but not private residential premises; to compel persons to provide evidence of identification; and generally to exclude persons. The bill will also create a presumption against bail for certain offences. It limits the civil liability of the New South Wales Police Force and allows for the use of recognised law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions. I note that the legislation will expire on 12 September 2007. The Christia The legislation will create police powers in declared areas: to establish checkpoints; to allow for bag and other searches; to prohibit certain items and allow for their confiscation; to exclude certain persons; to allow for the control of roads and traffic zones; to give reasonable directions; and to allow for the use of police animals—I assume horses and dogs. The legislation will also create additional police powers in restricted areas to enter premises, but not private residential premises; to compel persons to provide evidence of identification; and generally to exclude persons. The bill will also create a presumption against bail for certain offences. It limits the civil liability of the New South Wales Police Force and allows for the use of recognised law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions. I note that the legislation will expire on 12 September 2007. The Christian Democratic Party supports the bill. As other members who have spoken on the debate have said, the Labor Government is probably uncomfortable with such legislation but it recognises the necessity for the bill in current conditions. We support the bill.

Ms LEE RHIANNON [3.29 p.m.]: The APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill 2007 is definitely unnecessary. I endorse the comments of my Greens colleagues Ms Sylvia Hale and Mr Ian Cohen. The bill includes many unnecessary measures. Indeed, there is a great deal of hype surrounding the bill, as was clearly demonstrated by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. He highlighted the fact that the bill introduced a ban on caltrops, small spike balls. I have never heard of caltrops being used during any protest in Australia and, therefore, to include such devices in legislation is not a sensible attempt at law reform to improve crowd control; it is simply a photo opportunity for the front page of the Daily Telegraph . The so-called threat posed to people attending the APEC conference is a fabrication.

I share the concerns of my colleagues that many politicians, police and media are seeking to hype up the possibility of a violent protest at the APEC meeting. Public discussion that I have witnessed so far is that non-government organisations and activists will engage in non-violent protests, which is the rich history of this country. We have many examples of protests but they have not been violent. I can remember a huge protest with the Shooters Party outside Parliament House in 1998.

The Hon. Robert Brown: With 87,000.

Ms LEE RHIANNON: Yes, and I attended a very small protest where we carried coffins representing people who had died. Actually, police escorted those of us who were holding the coffins because they were worried about what Shooters Party representatives might do.

The Hon. Robert Brown: And what did happen?

Ms LEE RHIANNON: Nothing actually happened, but the police gave us some advice and we decided we would leave with them. Overall, Australia has a fine history of peaceful protesting. However, some recent protests against the threat of globalisation have seen police authorities use unnecessary force. My colleague Ian Cohen and I attended the S11 protest against the World Economic Forum in Melbourne in 2000. That was a very inspiring, innovative protest, which Senator Bob Brown also attended, but the violence by police was extreme, as evidenced by the fact that the police paid compensation to many of the protesters present. That is how these situations often play out. In March this year the Victorian Government paid out $700,000 to 47 protesters in response to claims that the police were unnecessarily heavy-handed. One would hope that the New South Wales Government would learn from that experience, but I doubt that from its current track record.

Other members have said the bill gives the Commissioner of Police the power to create a secret list of people who will be excluded from APEC declared areas. It is tragic that more honourable members have not highlighted the extreme nature of this measure, as I am sure that many Labor and other party members would be concerned about the list. I accept that Labor members must vote for the bill because of a decision in caucus, but in view of the seriousness of the bill they should place their views on the record. The list will not be made public. The Minister for Police said, "Police do not need to tell people they are on the list; they should know." That is crazy. One could not get a better example of an Orwellian statement; indeed, one would think that Mr Campbell wrote the book himself.

How do people know whether they are on the list? Is the former President of this House, Meredith Burgmann—who has a fine history of engaging in protests and was arrested many times but was not involved in any violent protest—on the list? Are many members of this House who participated in the community actions in support of the Maritime Union of Australia [MUA] on the list? Are those who protested against the Springbok tours or the Vietnam War on the list? We know that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation [ASIO] keeps comprehensive records of people. Is that where the police are getting their information and how are they drawing up these lists?

It is a ridiculous law and a dangerous precedent that I am worried the majority of members will sign off on? We are creating a climate in which holding dissenting political views is enough to be considered a threat. It is not a threat; it is democracy. I urge honourable members to be sensible, use their commonsense and speak out against the bill, even if they do not vote against it. An interesting letter appeared in the newspaper last week from a former Executive Member of the Privacy Committee, Bill Orme, who made reference to the excluded persons list and spoke about his own experiences in this area. He said:

Almost weekly I investigated the serious unfair consequences flowing from secret blacklists. As one example, doctors and nurses complained regularly about their inability to find work. The Health Commission denied it had a blacklist. Using a combination of our Ombudsman and Royal Commission powers we proved that a blacklist must exist, and were told there were "only a few persons on it".

The Committee did not oppose a blacklist, but insisted it must be public and accountable. Further investigation showed it contained not hundreds of names, but over 7,000. We insisted it be made public. The Health Commission first removed over 6,000 of the names as not being justifiable. This shows how unfair secret lists become.

Another example closer to the APEC situation was when police in secret asked a hotel to "roster off" a floor manager during the visit of foreign dignitaries because his name was on a secret list. His career was finished, and he had no chance to respond to the police concerns.

After our report to parliament we located over 15 more secret blacklists in both the public and private sectors. Each compiler of a list agreed to abide by the Committee's guidelines to act openly and be accountable.

In 1980 the Committee stated " Privacy is best protected … by an informed and concerned public, aided by a vigilant permanent watchdog." The government then set about dismantling the Committee.

Mr Orme was the Executive Member of the Privacy Committee from 1975 to 1982. It reminds us of the many spin-offs that can occur with these types of lists and the number of people who can lose their jobs. How many people could end up on the list by mistake and their life seriously damaged? Police in this State have enormous powers and incredible legislative backup when dealing with protests, another reason that the legislation is unnecessary. People have a right to protest.

I turn to another aspect to which other members have referred, that is, the argument that terrorism is justification for the legislation. Again I place on record, as I have with previous legislation, the Greens' sympathy for the victims of terrorism. Terrorism is shocking; it brings death, destruction, great hardship and hurt. However, I also have sympathy for people involved in car accidents and those who suffer from food poisoning. I do not wish to trivialise the tragedy of terrorism but I remind honourable members that each year in the United States of America 5,000 people die from food poisoning, which is more than the number of people who died in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, in which 2,973 people died. Obviously thousands of people in the United States and around the world die in car accidents. Again, I say that because we need to get these figures in perspective.

The war on terrorism is in its sixth year and we need to ask whether the threat has been exaggerated. By overreacting to the threat and exaggerating rhetoric, the danger of terrorism is increased. There is graphic coverage in the media of threats of terrorism, but when those threats seem to be groundless there is little coverage of that. I remain concerned the way terrorism is being used to justify this Act and so much of what has happened in recent years in Australian domestic and foreign policy. The Federal Government has continually used the threat of terrorism for many of its initiatives. We now know that the Federal Government has been warned repeatedly by intelligence analysts, both before and after the Iraq war, that that conflict would harm the war on terrorism by fanning Islamic extremism and spurring terrorist recruiting.

On 23 August 2004 an investigation was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald . That report is relevant to this debate because it shows that those who were behind these laws were receiving information that is quite different from what the public is told and what we, as members of Parliament, are informed about. The report shows that elected Federal representatives—and I imagine this happens with State governments—are receiving numerous reports about that very fact, that exaggerating the threat of terrorism inflames extremism and can increase terrorist recruitment. In that report an intelligence analyst stated:

They were very, very aware of our views—

referring to the Prime Minister and other representatives of the Federal Government—

We believed it would inflame extremism and increase terrorist recruitment.

We need to watch how we are conducting this debate. Again I ask members to think clearly about this legislation. It is dangerous legislation for the period of the APEC conference, but it also creates a dangerous precedent for the democratic fabric of this State and country.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [3.42 p.m.]: Neither my colleague nor I were going to speak on the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill and its cognate; we were simply going to vote for them. However, after hearing the Hon. Lee Rhiannon I thought I should say a few words about the bills and her speech. Ms Rhiannon speaks about peaceful protests. In doing that she referred to the shooters' protests in 1992 and in 1996 or 1998. There were 87,000 people at the second one. Ms Rhiannon also spoke about how the Greens counter-protested and were frightened.

Ms Lee Rhiannon: It was not the Greens.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: Sorry, you or whoever it was.

Ms Lee Rhiannon: It was the Coalition for Gun Control.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: The Coalition for Gun Control, I stand corrected. Protests with 100,000 people could be frightening—there were 120,000 in Melbourne. But there was no violence at the shooters' protests. From memory about four or five patrol cars and no more than about 30 police blocked the street. That is how to carry out a peaceful protest. Trying to draw parallels between the shooters' protests—two large protests, 80,000-odd people, no injuries, no weapons—and the disgusting protest in Melbourne is drawing a long bow. I noticed Ms Rhiannon had to ask her parliamentary colleague sotto voce what a caltrop was. Now she knows. She is mistaken to say they have never been used in Australia.

Dr John Kaye: Point of order: The honourable member is misleading the House. It is not true that Ms Rhiannon asked her parliamentary colleagues what a caltrop was.

The PRESIDENT: Order! That is a debating point. There is no point of order.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: It is essential that police have these powers during this period. A sunset date of 12 September has been included in the legislation. Police powers are essential to ensure the protection of not only conference visitors but also the people of Sydney. We have seen the results of these violent protests—the G20 protest in Melbourne was a disgusting example of anarchy. We do not want that happening here in Sydney. The question of whether the preparation of a list will lose people their jobs is hyperbole. That will not be the effect. As far as I am concerned we would be happy to support legislation that can perhaps better ensure that the people of Sydney will be protected. Members have to realise that there are still six rocket-propelled grenades out there that have not been found. One cannot say it will never happen here or that one cannot draw a line between violent protests and terrorism—violent protest is domestic terrorism. There is no line between them.

The Shooters Party fully supports this legislation. It hopes the Government puts sufficient resources on the streets to make it work. We probably do not agree with holding the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation [APEC] conference in Sydney and the inconvenience it will bring to so many people of Sydney or that one needs to have a public holiday to keep people out of the area. But, given that we are holding the conference here, let us make sure that the people of Sydney are safe. We support the legislation.

Dr JOHN KAYE [3.46 p.m.]: I echo the concerns raised by my colleagues with respect to these bills. There is no question that the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill is twofold dangerous. It is dangerous in the powers it creates for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation [APEC] event itself; it is also dangerous in the precedent it establishes, because it rides roughshod over many of the key democratic right of Australian people to express dissent from actions and decisions of their governments.
It is hard to believe that this legislation is about maintaining order during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. Police powers as they exist are adequate to secure the safety of the public and of visitors to the conference. As hard as it is to believe that this bill is about maintaining order during the Asia­Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, it is absolutely impossible to believe it has anything to do with disrupting terrorist acts. Terrorism is a contemptible blight that seeks to create a climate of fear by both random and targeted acts of violence. Unfortunately, that definition of terrorism extends to acts of war, including the war in Iraq, which many people will seek to protest against at this event.

This legislation is not focused on public safety, it is focused on creating a climate of intimidation against those who would seek to express dissent against decisions made by both the Australian Government and governments of other nations, members of Asia­Pacific Economic Cooperation. This is a dangerous outcome, because public acts of dissent are a crucial part of maintaining a circuit breaker against the growth of totalitarianism. If we undermine free debate and free dissent we open the floodgates to totalitarian governments, we undermine cultural de This legislation is not focused on public safety, it is focused on creating a climate of intimidation against those who would seek to express dissent against decisions made by both the Australian Government and governments of other nations, members of Asia­Pacific Economic Cooperation. This is a dangerous outcome, because public acts of dissent are a crucial part of maintaining a circuit breaker against the growth of totalitarianism. If we undermine free debate and free dissent we open the floodgates to totalitarian governments, we undermine cultural democracy and we undermine the idea that citizens have the right to publicly and vocally say they do not agree.

When we look at the history of progress in Western society, the end of apartheid in South Africa and getting genuine action on global warming, all of these achievements have involved mass assemblies of individuals wanting to express their dissatisfaction with government policy. Yet when governments create barriers between people and their right to express dissent in public, they create barriers to social progress. They create avenues along which governments walk and along which democracy gets lost.

My colleagues have outlined some of the very dangerous aspects of the legislation. I want to speak about six of the provisions that are of particular concern to the Greens. The first is that the legislation reverses the onus of proof and makes presumptions against bail. These are dangerous changes to the operation of the criminal justice system; they go to the very heart of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The legislation would allow police to conduct searches without warrants. It would allow, for example, a six months jail term to be given to a person who is found within a restricted area, although that person may not know the area has been declared restricted. The Commissioner of Police has no obligation to announce beforehand the areas that are restricted.

The legislation imposes a 12 months sentence on a person for entering a restricted area with a prohibited item. That provision seems reasonable, except that "prohibited item" includes a can of spray paint and a pole for a banner. They are hardly weapons of mass destruction; they are objects that individuals can rightfully possess. Most alarming in the legislation is the power given to police to create a secret black list. The legislation enables police to put people on the list without their knowledge. Those who have been listed are excluded from restricted areas. This aspect of the legislation, particularly, damages the culture of democracy in this State.

The legislation imposes restrictions on people without their knowledge that the restrictions have been imposed and without any right to appeal. If people are put on the list they are exposed to the risk of incarceration. The legislation does not include any clear guidelines about who will be placed on the list; and those who have been placed on the list have no opportunity to question their inclusion. It is hard to believe that this provision is not directed at targeting individuals who have annoyed the Government by the volubility of their expressions of dissent.

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile said the legislation is targeting violent elements. How do we know that if we are not aware of who is on the list? We will never know who is on the list. I suspect that a large number of people will end up on the list simply because they hold views that run counter to those held by mainstream Australian society. Their views probably run counter to my own, but that is not relevant to me and it should not be relevant to others. Disagreement with others' views is not a reason to be placed on a list and have one's legal rights restricted. I join with my colleagues in condemning violence but there is no evidence that the legislation will in any way restrict violence.

People have good reasons to protest at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation [APEC] forum. I will name just three. One: there is mounting community concern about the war in Iraq. The war has become dangerous, destabilising to the region and expensive, and in the long term it will probably prove to be illegal. Two: there is mounting concern about the persistent failure of Western society to resolve the abject poverty of one billion people who live on the surface of this planet. Three: there is mounting concern with the failure of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations to curtail their greenhouse gas emissions. These are serious reasons to protest against the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting that are worthy of the concern of us all. The legislation is designed specifically to muzzle an important alternative view on the business that will be conducted at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

I want members to consider for a moment that if this legislation had been in operation since 2000, some events that have taken place in Sydney could not have been held. The Your Rights at Work rally conducted in Belmore Park in 2006 could not have been held. The Bridge Walk in 2000, which called for reconciliation with indigenous Australians, could not have been held. The 2006 rally in Hyde Park against the then impending Iraq war could not have been held. The two protests that were held outside Parliament today—one highlighting the dangers of this legislation and the other highlighting concerns about the brothel legislation—could not have been held. Members may not agree with the sentiments expressed by people who protest those causes—I happen to agree with all of them—but that is not relevant. Surely the Leader of the Opposition would agree with me that they have the right to express their views.

The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Picking up crumbs, just enough to make one slice that will get them in here. That is all it is about. Fifty votes here, another 100 there, put them all together and get one little slice to get their backsides in the Legislative Council.

Dr JOHN KAYE: Clearly, by his interjection the Leader of the Opposition does not have a commitment to a right to free speech. That is a great shame for Australia. It is probably one of the reasons why he has been the Leader of the Opposition, and is likely to remain so, for some time. These laws target citizens of goodwill who have done no wrong. They simply seek to express their dissent.

The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Where will the goodwill be when they get stuck into the hardworking police in the city in a few months' time? The Greens will not condemn them, not one word.

Dr JOHN KAYE: If the Leader of the Opposition had heard all of my speech he would have heard me condemn acts of violence. He did not do me the courtesy of listening to my speech. These laws target citizens of goodwill who have done no wrong, while those who have done harm and committed us to an illegal and dangerous war walk scot-free. I urge the House to reject this legislation.

The Hon. HENRY TSANG (Parliamentary Secretary) [3.57 p.m.], in reply: I thank honourable members for their contributions. These bills will maximise the security of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting and reduce the risk of VIPs, central business district [CBD] residents and workers from being exposed to violent protests. I foreshadow that the Government will oppose the Greens amendments and I will address their concerns during the Committee stage. I commend the bills to the House.

Ms Sylvia Hale: Under Standing Order 102 I request that the questions on the second reading of these bills be put seriatim.

The PRESIDENT: The request having been made, I propose to put the questions seriatim.

Question—That the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill 2007 be now read a second time—put.

The House divided.
Ayes, 36
Mr Ajaka
Mr Brown
Mr Catanzariti
Mr Clarke
Mr Colless
Mr Costa
Ms Cusack
Mr Della Bosca
Ms Fazio
Ms Ficarra
Mr Gallacher
Miss Gardiner
Mr Gay
Ms Griffin
Mr Kelly
Mr Khan
Mr Lynn
Mr Macdonald
Mr Mason-Cox
Reverend Dr Moyes
Reverend Nile
Mr Obeid
Ms Parker
Mrs Pavey
Mr Pearce
Ms Robertson
Mr Roozendaal
Ms Sharpe
Mr Smith
Mr Tsang
Mr Veitch
Ms Voltz
Mr West
Ms Westwood


Tellers,

Mr Donnelly
Mr Harwin

Noes, 4

Mr Cohen
Ms Hale
Dr Kaye
Ms Rhiannon


Question resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Question—That the Industrial and Other Legislation Amendment (APEC Public Holiday) Bill 2007 be now read a second time—put and resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Consideration in Committee set down as an order of the day for a later hour.

Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted.
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
__________
HEALTH SERVICES UNION INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I direct my question to the Minister for Industrial Relations. Has the Minister met with the national secretary of the Health Services Union and Labor candidate for Dobell, Mr Craig Thompson, to discuss the ongoing industrial dispute involving members of the Health Services Union on the State's Central Coast? Is he aware that members of the Health Services Union are frustrated about the lack of action by this Government in relation to a series of matters, including the handling of the asbestos­affected Toukley ambulance station, and of the ongoing anger about staffing levels, victimisation and bullying in the workplace of their members who speak out against such activity? Why have both the Minister and the national secretary of the Health Services Union remained silent about an urgent need to address these issues and, in turn, prevent the industrial action being considered by the union members? Has the Minister told or advised Mr Thompson to remain silent to prevent inflaming a local issue that might negatively affect his political ambitions?

The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: This is an extraordinary question for the Leader of the Opposition to be asking. It is clearly part of a pattern he intends to pursue, which is most interesting. I will try to address the many questions he asked in one question. I cannot recall meeting with the Labor candidate for Dobell, Mr Craig Thompson—

The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: An excellent candidate.

The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: An excellent candidate, who is currently the national secretary of the Health Services Union. Mr Thompson and I have not discussed the matter, to the best of my knowledge. I will check my diary and other records to make sure that is accurate. The second part of the question referred to urgent matters and a dispute over Toukley ambulance station.

The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Bullying, victimisation, staffing levels, and other matters as well.

The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: In that case, the correct person to raise the matter with is the Minister for Health. I am happy to refer that part of the members' question to the Minister for Health for her answer and, I am sure, a very quick and accurate response. Lastly, the Leader of the Opposition referred to a number of industrial disputes concerning Toukley ambulance station. I refer him to my previous answers in respect of that matter.

It is good to see the nostalgia. The Leader of the Opposition is obviously missing the former member for Wyong, who championed this issue and strongly promoted the various causes that the Leader of the Opposition is now championing. It is clear that the Leader of the Opposition really misses my good friend and colleague the former member for Wyong, who pushed this issue very hard for a whole range of reasons.

The Leader of the Opposition is a former trade union official—I think at one stage of his career, a militant trade union official, something he keeps quiet about these days. The Leader of the Opposition should be familiar with the practice of most trade unions. Indeed, I would think all trade unions are ostensibly organised with a clear delineation of responsibilities between national secretaries, State secretaries, delegates and regional organisers. I am sure that the regional organisers, the delegates of the Health Services Union and the State officials are dealing effectively with this matter.

I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that the whole basis of his question is wrong. It is not Mr Thompson's responsibility to attend to this matter. It is not his responsibility either in his capacity as a candidate for public office or in his capacity as union secretary. It is properly the province of the Minister for Health, the Ambulance Service, and the relevant trade union. It is not a matter for Mr Thompson to play politics, whatever his politics are today.
HISTORY TEACHING REVIEW

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE: My question is addressed to the Minister for Education and Training. Will the Minister outline why New South Wales will not be lending its expertise to a national review of history teaching?

The Hon. Duncan Gay: Because you do not have any?

The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I have a history, and I am sure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has a history too! New South Wales has a school curriculum that is acknowledged as the nation's finest. It has been developed with the support and involvement of the public and non-government education sectors. It is why both the Commonwealth and other States turn to New South Wales for specialist advice and assistance. The President of the Board of Studies, Professor Gordon Stanley, has been invited by the Western Australian Government to chair a national panel to review that State's curriculum. As the Australian newspaper reported last week, New South Wales is "the gold standard".

But on the eve of a Federal election, the Prime Minister would have parents believe that history has "gone missing" in schools. He wants it reinstated as a stand-alone subject. In New South Wales it is mandatory for all students to study history, from kindergarten to the end of year 10 and as part of the School Certificate. The popularity of modern history, ancient history and the extension history courses for the Higher School Certificate is unprecedented in Australia. New South Wales teaches history as a separate mandatory core subject in years 7 to 10, and externally tests year 10 students in Australian history, geography, and civics and citizenship.

The study of Australian history has been compulsory in years 9 and 10 since 1999. I ask members to note that date; it is important. The course is organised in a chronological sequence and as a coherent narrative. Significant topics include Federation, the Gallipoli campaign, and the experiences of Australians serving in World War II. The Prime Minister is now trying to rewrite history.

The Hon. Charlie Lynn: How come nobody knows about it?

The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: The Hon. Charlie Lynn should not demonstrate his ignorance. Most school kids know more about Gallipoli and the Second World War than he does. A task force announced yesterday by the Commonwealth to review history teaching is a political stunt that would undermine the confidence of students, parents and teachers. One of the reasons New South Wales is considered to have the nation's premier curriculum is the element of balance. The New South Wales Government does not impose an ideological view on the syllabus. Where there is conflict, we seek balance, and we maintain a policy that secures independent, expert development of teaching materials.

Geoffrey Blainey is a respected historian, but he has very firm views on one interpretation of Australian history, which happens to accord with the Prime Minister's. Gerard Henderson also is a fine and respected commentator on public affairs, but he is not a professional historian. There are many respected Australian historians who could have done this job better and whose expertise would have been more relevant. The Commonwealth Minister for Education directly approached a member of the New South Wales public service and announced her involvement without waiting for a reply, without receiving an acceptance, and without contacting the New South Wales Government. In fact, after Mrs Bishop announced the panel, and after the howls of amusement from journalists, only then did she seek approval via email after the event. Arrogant, rude and disorganised!

New South Wales will not lend its highly skilled personnel and its reputation to an ideologically driven stunt where there has been no consultation and no attempt to achieve balance. Students, parents and the entire community want an education system that promotes excellence, that presents a balanced view supported by teachers and the non-government systems. This arrogant Commonwealth Government does not employ a teacher, teach a student, or run a single school. It should not use the curriculum as a political football. What we teach our children should not be a plaything for John Howard with which to divide and wedge.
MINISTER FOR ROADS TRAFFIC OFFENCE

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads. Does the Minister recall a photograph of his ministerial car travelling illegally in a bus lane published in the Daily Telegraph shortly after he assumed the Roads portfolio? Does the Minister recall indicating that he would pay any fines relating to this incident? Has a fine been issued for the offence? If so, has the fine been paid? If so, by whom has it been paid? Further, could the Minister inform the House what is the situation regarding any demerit points that have arisen from the incident?

The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: I refer to my previous answer relating to this matter.

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I ask a supplementary question. The Minister indicated that he would pay a fine. I ask the Minister whether he has actually received a fine.

The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: I think the issue of members incurring demerit points and fines is very dangerous ground for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to walk on. I hope that he would display the same honesty should the question ever be thrown to his side of the House. Yes, I paid the fine. I also paid the same amount as the fine to Father Riley's Youth Off the Streets charity.
KURNELL DESALINATION PLANT

Dr JOHN KAYE: My question is directed to the Treasurer. What steps has the Treasurer taken to avoid the State making investments in infrastructure that are at risk of becoming a stranded asset? Can the Treasurer explain the economics behind awarding the contract to construct a $1.76 billion desalination plant at Kurnell while Sydney's water storage levels are above 50 per cent? Given that the 2006 Metropolitan Water Strategy identified that the security of Sydney's water supply does not require construction commencement until storages fall to 30 per cent, what will be the annual economic holding and opportunity costs of the $1.76 billion unneeded investment?

The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: I thought Dr John Kaye would have explained why it is raining today, given that the Greens have been around with Flannery arguing that it would never rain again. Leaving that aside, there will be no issue in relation to the operation of the desalination plant. It will be integrated into the Sydney water system and it will not have all the characteristics that Dr John Kaye outlined in his question. The plant will be operated as part of the normal water processing cycle of Sydney Water, and that will ensure that it does not remain, to use his technical term, "a stranded asset".
HUNTER AND CENTRAL COAST STORM DAMAGE
DEPARTMENT OF LANDS SPATIAL INFORMATION E X CHANGE

The Hon. AMANDA FAZIO: My question is directed to the Minister for Lands. How did the Department of Lands assist in the recent flood disaster and what is it doing to help prevent the damage caused by such events in the future?

The Hon. TONY KELLY: The recent Central Coast flood disaster was devastating for the entire New South Wales community, as families lost loved ones and much-needed rain destroyed homes and businesses. The Department of Lands, in particular its land and property information division, was involved in the response to this disaster, thanks to its state-of-the-art digital aerial photography and spatial information capabilities. The digital camera, which was fitted to the Department of Lands plane five or six weeks ago, enables high-resolution digital images to be integrated with overland information and related spatial information data to produce an array of products and services.

During the flood emergency, I requested that the Department of Lands fly over key affected areas using the newly acquired digital aerial photographic equipment to photograph the flooding in the Hunter and Central Coast regions and to distribute this image to emergency services responding to the disaster. An initial flight took place on Monday 11 June, which photographed images over Maitland, Nobbys Beach, The Entrance, Tuggerah, Terrigal and the tragic road subsidence on the Old Pacific Highway where five people lost their lives.

A second flight took place on Wednesday 13 June, which photographed the entire flood affected area from the Hawkesbury to the Hunter. The images captured from these flights were then distributed to the emergency services agencies, police, local government and others dealing with these devastating events. These special flights enabled new data and images of the region to be captured and compared with historic records to be included in computer analysis and modelling for flood disaster response. They assisted in addressing the immediate problems caused by the flooding, but they also provided key information for the future planning and management of our natural and built environments.

The images will be particularly beneficial in the post-analysis of the flood and emergency events and in planning and taking action on how to mitigate future events. They will also provide an accurate and timely record of the impact of the storm events on our beaches and the important natural and built assets along the coastline. This new digital information, together with the key surveying and height data currently held under accelerated capture programs by the Department of Lands will be critical in the management of sensitive coastal areas and in understanding coastal processes. Many beach and waterfront areas have been damaged and it will be important to investigate and document these impacts on both the public and private lands.

The images captured were not only used by emergency services; the public can view them on the Department of Lands Spatial Information eXchange [SIX] portal. The Spatial Information eXchange portal is a collaborative working space established by the Department of Lands for use by government, business and the community. It provides a single entry point through which to search, access and utilise the wealth of geo-spatial services and data managed by the Department of Lands. The Department of Land holds invaluable records of land, property and other spatial information over the State, including aerial photography and satellite imagery.

The availability of accurate and timely spatial information is a key to meeting the community needs, not only in times of disaster, but for overall land management. The Iemma Government is rightly proud to be able to assist the community in this way. If anyone is interested in having a look at the website, it is interesting to see how the sand is building up behind the ship in Newcastle harbour; one can look at some of the flooded areas, pre and post flood, in quite significant detail.

The Hon. Greg Pearce: Send it to Google Earth.

The Hon. TONY KELLY: It is better than Google Earth. The website can be located at www.maps.nsw.gov.au.
READY-TO-DRINK ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES

Reverend the Hon. Dr GORDON MOYES: I ask the Minister for Education and Training, representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice. Is the Minister aware that the production of so­called ready-to-drink alcoholic drinks is growing faster than the production of other kinds of alcoholic beverages? Is the Minister aware that drug and alcohol researchers, such as the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, have expressed concern about the growth in the production of such drinks? Is the Minister aware that many young people are of the view that ready-to-drink alcoholic drinks are specifically marketed to them?

Is the Minister aware that the Federal health department's alcohol strategy identified the role of such drinks in alcohol abuse by 15 to 17 year olds, particularly among girls, saying that among females consuming alcohol at higher-risk levels there was a significant shift to premixed drinks from 21 to 78 per cent? Given the alcoholic content of these drinks and the reason to believe that such drinks are marketed to younger women, can the Minister indicate what measures are being taken to dissuade young people from their consumption?
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I am aware of matters the honourable member has raised in respect to the production of so-called ready to drink alcoholic beverages, as opposed to traditional beer, spirits and wines. I am aware that the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and other responsible research bodies have expressed concern about the growth of this aspect of alcohol retail. I am certainly aware, and I think all members in this place have heard a number of both subjective personal accounts and peer-reviewed research accounts of the ways in which some of these products are marketed deliberately to young people.

There are concerns that some products are deliberately marketed to persons below the legal drinking age by some of the less responsible corporations or companies involved. I am aware that a number of international corporations and a number of Australian-based corporations are involved in producing these products. The retailers and publicans are very concerned about the issue of marketing in relation to the responsible use of alcohol, particularly in relation to under-age drinking and drinking among young people. There are very serious social concerns about the practice of so-called binge drinking, and I am sure the health Minister is very much aware of that.

I have been aware for some time of the importance of a number of initiatives, which, up until recently, and I believe it would still be the case, have been jointly pursued by the Commonwealth and the State administrations in respect to these issues. Most of them have been based on attempts to draw the alcohol industry into voluntary codes around marketing. It is my view that while many of those have been quite successful; some have been less than successful. Some people would argue that the performance relating to the voluntary codes has been patchy at best in achieving the appropriate social outcomes. I am sure the health Minister is pursuing these matters with her Federal colleague, and I will ask her to provide further detail to the honourable member, if she is in a position to do so.
LENNOX HEAD COMMUNITY CENTRE RELOCATION
WILLIAMS RESERVE RURAL FIRE SERVICE SHED RELOCATION

The Hon. CATHERINE CUSACK: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Lands. Is the Minister aware of the proposed community centre for Lennox Head to be located at Williams Reserve? Is the Minister aware of concerns expressed by the Lennox Head Residents Association that the Department of Lands may impose rents of up to $100,000 for the community centre, rendering the project unviable? Can the Minister advise the House on the latest proposal to relocate the rural fire service shed at Williams Reserve to Ocean Breeze Drive Reserve? Given this proposal is strongly opposed by Ocean Beach Drive residents, will the Minister ensure that a fully consultative process is undertaken prior to a final decision being taken on this matter?

The Hon. TONY KELLY: I am advised that Williams Reserve is a Crown reserve, which is managed by Ballina Shire Council. I will have to check if the council is the trustee for it. Council has prepared a draft plan of management for the reserve. Under this plan the council proposes to establish a community centre on the reserve. I am advised that a draft plan has been publicly exhibited to allow community comment. The Crown Lands Act requires me to seek market rent for the lease of Crown land, having regard to the terms and conditions of the lease. However, there are provisions in the Act for me to grant rebates to eligible pensioners, community service, sporting and recreational organisations, water-access only residents and local councils that provide facilities, without charge to the general community.

Policing arrangements for the proposed community centre will depend largely on the use being made of the site. The draft plan of management also proposes the removal of a council-owned rural fire services shed to another location. The department has yet to be advised by council as to the future location of that shed. If the council proposes to relocate shed adjacent to Ocean Breeze Drive, the matter is for council to address, as that land is freehold land owned by the council.
HUNTER AND CENTRAL COAST STORM DAMAGE

The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. Will the Minister please inform the House what effort the State Government has made to help those farmers who were victims of the Hunter and Central Coast floods?

The Hon. IAN MACDONALD: Central Coast and Hunter farmers were obviously affected as the storms of a fortnight ago lashed both regions and resulted in major flooding. I am sure all members are fully aware of the devastation this flooding caused. Lives were lost and livelihoods were shattered. Initial estimates suggest the damage bill will hit the $1 billion mark, much of which relates to damage to infrastructure, homes, motor vehicles and farming enterprises. The floods came with little warning and thousands of people were evacuated from their homes, including farming families stranded by rising floodwaters. In a matter of hours Hunter farmers battling the worst drought in 100 years were responding to the most severe flood the Hunter had seen in decades. That says something about Australia, does it not? I can report, however, that these farmers were not left to face the floodwaters and the resulting damage alone. State government agencies responded swiftly.

The Department of Primary Industries swung into action quickly to fulfil its responsibility of providing assistance for animal welfare and the farming sector. More than 30 Department of Primary Industries employees played vital roles in helping the local community respond to the emergency. This included evacuating livestock, disposing of perished animals, fodder drops, the sourcing of fodder and agistment, and providing advice on animal welfare. Staff worked hand in hand with other State government agencies and the New South Wales Farmers Association, filling positions at local control centres and establishing a Department of Primary Industries operations centre at Tocal.

An information hotline for pet, companion animal and livestock owners affected by the floods was set up and manned by the Department of Primary Industries. Throughout the flood the Department of Primary Industries assisted in disposing of about 60 dead animal carcasses, and evacuating 730 cattle, about 100 horses, 20 sheep, nine calves, 170 poultry, 16 dogs and three alpacas. Unfortunately, many of the animals died. The Department of Primary Industries reports that in the Hunter and Central Coast at least 41 cattle, 9 calves, 22 goats, 5 pigs, 4 alpacas, one horse and 50 poultry were killed by the floodwaters, and there are sure to be many other livestock losses not yet reported.

However, one of the great successes of the Government's response has been the coordination of fodder drops. Approximately 327 bales of hay, 16,500 litres of fresh water, chaff, horse pellets and poultry pellets have been delivered to about 45 locations with the help of State emergency services. In an ironic twist, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries called in drought support workers to help flood victims deal with the emotional toll of the floods. They visited about 25 properties to assist with damage assessments, the relocation of animals and to provide donated hampers.

Today, I wish to thank the dedicated staff at the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries for going above and beyond the call of duty to provide assistance to flood victims. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. I wish also to acknowledge the ongoing efforts of the department, which has set up a fodder register on its website. About 5,000 tonnes of fodder is available specifically for flood-affected farmers. In addition to this register, the Department of Primary Industries has teamed up with the New South Wales Farmers Association to create a fodder donation register. Currently the donated fodder stands at 434 tonnes. Farmers have also been informed of the State Government's natural disaster assistance that is available to them through the New South Wales Rural Assistance Authority. I urge flood victims to seek out natural disaster assistance, which includes loans of up to $130,000 to eligible recipients. The State Government encourages all flood victims to visit one of its one-stop-shops to find out what assistance is available. These are located at Newcastle, Wyong, Cessnock and Singleton.
SYDNEY TOWN HALL PROPOSED RENOVATIONS

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: I wish to ask the Treasurer the following question without notice: Is it a fact that the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, has announced plans to renovate Sydney Town Hall, including her own offices, at a cost of $60 million? Does the Government have concern over this huge expenditure, given that Clover Moore criticised other renovations undertaken some years ago that were estimated to be only $10 million? Does the Government plan to take any action to stop this waste of New South Wales taxpayers' funds?

The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: I was not aware that Clover Moore planned to renovate Sydney Town Hall. To correct the honourable member, it will probably involve ratepayers' funds. Given that I have an apartment in the area, I will probably be one of those who will pay for the renovations, and as a ratepayer I would certainly object to it. Clearly the Government cannot interfere in these matters. However, we would certainly ask the council to ensure that any expenditure it undertakes is appropriate and that the works are not carried out at the expense of vital local government services.
EPPING TO CHATSWOOD RAIL LINK

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: My question is directed to the Treasurer, Minister for Infrastructure, and Minister for the Hunter. What circumstances arose that require the unbudgeted increase in grants of $960 million to enable Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation to repay debt associated with the Epping to Chatswood rail link? Was the repayment of debt a commercial transaction approved by the Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation Board or was it merely a device to understate the final cost overruns of the project by reducing interest payments?

The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: I certainly can explain it. Again the honourable member commences a question with a conspiracy theory, as he did last week when he attacked me because I failed to deliver a deficit rather than a surplus. I mean, how could anybody trust my budgeting!

The Hon. Greg Pearce: You got the figures all wrong.

The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: I accept that the figures were wrong. I made a big mistake! We budgeted for a deficit and we brought in a surplus! I apologise to the community of New South Wales for doing that!

The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Be careful, Hansard does not show sarcasm or irony. It will appear as if you are apologising.

The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: I indicate that my comments were intended to convey sarcasm. That will be recorded in Hansard. The reality is that the Government saw an opportunity to reduce some government debt, given that it had a number of one-off benefits to the budget, and I explained what they were in terms of the budget: investment returns, some large commercial transactions, and better than expected collections of land tax because of the improved system of collection within the Office of State Revenue. We should be concerned when looking at fiscal management about the long-term structural position of the Government, not one-off windfall gains. The Government's position is that when situations arise that present opportunities to reduce debt, those opportunities will be taken. With respect to the Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation, it was seen to be obvious, given the massive amount we are spending on rail capital works, that we should reduce some of those rail debts.
PACIFIC HIGHWAY UPGRADE

The Hon. IAN WEST: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads. Can the Minister update the House on the latest developments in the Roads portfolio?

The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: I can, and I will talk about the upgrade of the Pacific Highway, which is particularly interesting. The continuing Pacific Highway upgrade is one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in this country and has made an enormous difference to the New South Wales economy, North Coast communities and New South Wales road users. This project presents an enormous challenge to both the State and Federal governments. More than $447 million will be spent on projects to upgrade and improve the Pacific Highway as part of the 2007-08 budget, a budget, I note, that was welcomed by the NRMA, which said that funding allocated to new projects, such as the Coopernook to Herons Creek upgrade and the Bulahdelah bypass were good news.

The Treasurer delivered an excellent budget, for which I do not think I have had a chance to congratulate him. I am pleased to advise the House that in a significant milestone for people of the North Coast, the Brunswick Heads to Yelgun upgrade is due to open to traffic on 11 July 2007. That 8.7 kilometres of new, dual carriageway cost $256 million. The new upgrade will mean a continuous dual carriageway along the Pacific Highway for over 60 kilometres south of the Queensland border. Work began on the project in April 2005 as part of the Brunswick Heads to Yelgun upgrade, with 26 bridges being built, three over the Brunswick River. The local service bridge over the Brunswick River was opened to traffic in December 2006 and the 180­metre long twin bridges will be opened as part of the official opening next month.

The project also incorporates interchanges at North Brunswick Heads and Yelgun, and duplication of the Brunswick Heads bypass. The existing highway will be retained to provide off-highway access between local communities. I thank local residents for their patience during the construction phase. I thank also the number of local businesses that contributed to the project. To celebrate the opening of the project and to acknowledge the local contribution, a community day will take place on 8 July 2007. People are invited to walk or cycle along the full length of the project and make a donation for the privilege, with the proceeds going to charity. An auction associated with the opening will raise money for the local surf club and volunteer rescue association.

In further developments as part of the Pacific Highway upgrade the pre-construction work on the Ballina Bypass is progressing well. The Ballina Bypass is a very important part of the Pacific Highway upgrade—it will deliver a further 12.4 kilometres of dual carriageway. The initial works are necessary to start stabilising the underlying soft soils in a number of critical sections in preparation for the construction of the bypass. The 12.4 kilometre Ballina Bypass will be significantly shorter than the current 19 kilometre route through the urban areas of Ballina and will offer significant travel time savings for Pacific Highway traffic. The improved concept design for the Ballina Bypass project is now on display for the community. The new concept design includes improved traffic safety and improvements to reduce soft soil issues. It will also speed up construction timeframes and provide better connection to the preferred route for the proposed Tintenbar to Ewingsdale project.

Requests for proposals were recently invited from contractors for the Ballina Bypass upgrade and the assessment process is proceeding with a decision on the successful proposal expected in the next few months. This upgrade of the Pacific Highway is one of the greatest infrastructure projects in the history of New South Wales and the Iemma Government is working with the Federal Government to make sure the job gets done and that New South Wales has a dual-carriageway from Hexham to the Queensland border.
PEAK OIL

Ms LEE RHIANNON: I direct my question to the Treasurer. Is the Treasurer are aware that President George Bush has called for United States citizens to wean themselves off oil and that the International Energy Agency has predicted that oil prices may reach $118 a barrel? Is the Treasurer aware that the oil committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has stated that global oil supplies are peaking and will shortly dwindle, and that a global economic recession could result from high oil prices? Is the Treasurer aware of the concept of peak oil? What steps were taken in the State budget to reduce the State's risk exposure to rapid and extreme price rises in oil? What studies has the Treasurer undertaken or caused to be undertaken to assess the impact on the State's economy of extreme and rapid increases in oil prices associated with the phenomena known as peak oil? [ Time expired.]

The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: I do not know where to start to answer that question. I find it surprising that anyone, let alone the Greens, would refer to George W. Bush as a world authority on any matter! Clearly the honourable member does not understand how price setting strategies and price regulation operate in this country. If she did, she would understand—and this has been well-publicised in the past couple of days, with some references to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deciding whether to take action on petrol gouging—that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is the appropriate body to answer her question. In relation to this so-called peak oil, for many decades the greenies have been claiming that supplies of a whole range of natural resources will decline. They have been proved wrong on every occasion.

I remember the great wager in the 1970s between Julian Simon, the American economist, and Paul Ulrich over a range of commodities. Julian Simon took the view that all the commodities referred to would be cheaper within a decade or a decade and a half. Ulrich, the high priest of doom and gloom before Al Gore came along, argued that we would be facing population devastation and global famine and that we would be running out of oil. Do members recall the movie Mad Max ? Well, this is the Mad Max approach to economics that we are hearing from the Greens. Julian Simon bet that every one of the commodities would be lower in price, reflecting the fact that they would be more abundant rather than scarce. And Ulrich did not pay up on the bet! A typical greenie!

Everybody knows that when a commodity starts to increase in price it attracts more capital and, therefore, oil fields and mining fields that were uneconomic to mine, become more economic. That is the economic process I am used to, not the Mad Max economics approach of the Greens. Perhaps Ms Lee Rhiannon should direct her question to someone like Mel Gibson to find out how an oil-scarce world will operate. We are working on the basis of the real world, and the real world at the moment shows that there is a boom in commodity prices and Australia is part of that boom. I am happy to support that boom, and I cannot see why anybody would be planning for a slowdown in that boom—certainly not in any realistic time frame. The Greens can scaremonger—
Ms Lee Rhiannon: Is President Bush scaremongering? Is that what you are saying?

The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: When did George W. Bush join the Greens? I find it absolutely staggering that Ms Lee Rhiannon is quoting George W. Bush as a source on anything. No member of this House would quote George W. Bush as a source for environment policy, let alone any other matter. The Greens are really scraping the bottom of the barrel quoting Bush on any matter. The Government works on the basis of sensible, rational economics, and at this stage there is no reason to change our strategy.
DRAG RACING PROMOTION

The Hon. CHARLIE LYNN: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads. Is it correct, as reported in the Daily Telegraph today, that he offered as part of a prize at last Thursday's Cabinet budget dinner at Darling Harbour a joy ride in a drag racing car? Is it also a fact that the promotional material for the prize stated that the winner would be able to perform "neck snapping doughnuts and eye-popping burnouts"? Does the minister not see this as totally contradictory to the message being promoted to young people about the dangers of speed in the latest advertising campaign by the Roads and Traffic Authority?

The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Hon. Charlie Lynn to order for the first time.

The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: I am glad I have been asked this question because it raises an important issue. Only the other day I was talking about motor sports with a former member of this House, the Hon. John Ryan, who has a keen interest in the sport. During the conversation John reflected on some of his former colleagues in this House. When reflecting on the Hon. Charlie Lynn, John said that he spends more time in the transit lounge than he does in marginal seats. The Hon. Charlie Lynn always asks the tough questions and therefore it is no surprise to me that he has asked this question. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition would have put him up to this. The Hon. John Ryan once described the Hon. Charlie Lynn—

The Hon. Don Harwin: Point of order: The Minister was asked a specific question about road safety.

The PRESIDENT: Order! I could hear absolutely nothing that was being said by the Minister because of the level of interjection. I ask the Minister to continue to be generally relevant to the question asked.

The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: The Hon. John Ryan said, "It is not that they are right wing, they are just lame brains." That is what he said about the Hon. Charlie Lynn the other day on the radio, and I tend to agree with him. Motor sports venues are the appropriate place for people to test the limits of their vehicles. Properly built and supervised motor sports venues are important facilities. On that point, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and I are in agreement. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said in this House, he is a motor sports tragic. I am also a motor sports tragic. I enjoy motor sports.

It is important to support motor sports in this country and motor sports venues are the appropriate places to test the performance of vehicles at high speed. Such venues are properly built and supervised, the drivers wear proper safety gear, and safety marshals are in attendance. I am not the only one who supports motor sports in this country. Many other people support them because the industry contributes greatly to the New South Wales and Australian economies. Western Sydney International Dragway holds special nights for people to drive their cars in off the street and race them, after they have been inspected, in a safe, supervised venue. I am advised that this initiative has contributed to a reduction in illegal street racing in the area. It is important for us to support motor sports that are conducted at proper and safe motor sports venues.
TEACHER TRAINING

The Hon. KAYEE GRIFFIN: My question is directed to the Minister for Education and Training. Can the Minister outline measures being taken by the Government to improve teacher training?

The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: While the Commonwealth attempts to rewrite history, New South Wales is getting on with the task of improving standards in the teaching profession. For the first time in Australia, all students studying teaching at New South Wales universities will have to complete courses that have a mandatory set of core curriculum subjects, which include basic skills in literacy, managing student behaviour and computer technology. Beginning teachers will study the same material wherever they attend a teacher training course. Every child deserves a good teacher, and the Iemma Government is ensuring that our students have well-qualified personnel in every classroom. These new mandatory requirements feature clear and rigorous content to ensure that New South Wales teachers are the best prepared in the nation.
Teachers who graduate from universities to teach in New South Wales schools must be properly prepared for what they will face in the classroom. The mandatory content will ensure that universities have a crystal clear understanding of what schools, parents and the entire community expect of graduates. The six mandatory areas that are described in the New South Wales Graduate Teacher Standards are literacy, including spelling and grammar, controlling student behaviour and classroom management, computers and technology in the classroom, teaching children with disabilities, Aboriginal education, and teaching children from non-English speaking backgrounds. To be employed in a New South Wales school, new teachers must show that they have met these standards at university.

The Institute of Teachers, which was established by the New South Wales Government in 2004, has been working with universities to make sure that existing teacher education courses include the same content in all the mandatory areas. New education courses, which begin from 2009, will be approved only if they meet the new requirements. The new compulsory content was developed by the New South Wales Institute of Teachers in consultation with the New South Wales Department of Education, teacher academics, practising teachers and education stakeholders, including parents. New South Wales leads the country in the pursuit of quality teaching, and these literacy skills are likely to be the blueprint for the national literacy requirement for beginning teachers in all States and territories. Australian teachers' institutes have agreed to propose the New South Wales model to the Council of Australian Governments meeting later this year. It is essential that when new teachers get their first job they are capable, well trained and ready to hit the ground running. Universities have a duty to ensure that students are properly prepared, and this mandatory content will help them to produce excellent graduates. The mandatory requirements guarantee the quality of the preparation of our new teachers and lay a strong foundation both for the whole of a teacher's career and for the future of the teaching profession.
WELCOME REEF DAM PROPOSAL

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries, representing the Minister for Water Utilities. Given there has been substantial recent rainfall in the Sydney water catchment areas and the Government will spend $1.76 billion to build a desalination plant that now seems not to be time imperative and would provide only a modest increase in Sydney's water supply, will the Government now revisit the Welcome Reef dam proposal, which was supposed to have been up and running as the final solution to Sydney's water supply two years ago and which can be built more cheaply and provide water for more residents of Sydney, the South Coast and potentially Goulburn than a desalination plant?

The Hon. IAN MACDONALD: The Hon. Robert Brown is confused in his ideology. I note that he is wearing a blue, white and green tie. He is a bit mixed up! I am happy to refer the question to the Minister for Water Utilities for a quick reply.
ABORIGINAL CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

The Hon. ROBYN PARKER: My question without notice is directed to the Treasurer, Minister for Infrastructure, and Minister for the Hunter. Will the Minister identify where new money has been allocated in the budget for programs that specifically target child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities, as identified in the report "Breaking the Silence: Creating the Future"? Did he receive representations from other Ministers prior to the budget requesting specific funding to address Aboriginal child sexual abuse? Was it his recommendation that they look for savings within their own departments?

The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: It is good to see that the Opposition supports recycling: this is a recycled question from the Leader of the Opposition in the other place. I heard the same question asked of the Premier during question time in the other place. In his answer the Premier made it very clear that the Government has provided additional funding across a range of agencies. The figure he referred to was more than $30 million over the next four years. I suggest the Hon. Robyn Parker not rely on articles in the Fairfax press for information on internal Government meetings, such as our budget committee. I make no apology for ensuring that all our agencies justify how they spend taxpayers' dollars. They should do so. This seems to be a problem for the Opposition's because it does not understand that many of our agencies are involved in this area, not just the agency mentioned by the honourable member in her question. Clearly, the departments of Health, Police, Education and Training, Community Service and the Attorney General are all involved.

The Hon. Robyn Parker: Point of order: My question relates to specific amounts of money targeted at Aboriginal child sexual assault. The Treasurer is answering the question in general terms because clearly there is no specific funding in the budget.
The Hon. Greg Donnelly: To the point of order: The Treasurer has some latitude in the way he answers questions.

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Treasurer should not debate the question. The Treasurer can answer the question as he sees fit, provided he is generally relevant.

The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: The Hon. Robyn Parker is obviously embarrassed by the haphazard way the Federal Government has approached this issue.

The Hon. Michael Gallacher: It has provided leadership.

The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: It has provided nothing. It does not have a strategy to deal with this issue after six months. It has not put a cent of additional funding on the table. Neither the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs nor the Prime Minister, who I heard speak on this matter, can identify what they will do after six months. Clearly, it was an election stunt to be used as a wedge to divide the community once again. Our Government has a very proud record on providing services. Our Health budget was increased by over 7 per cent. Part of that budget is dedicated to the services that the Hon. Robyn Parker refers to. It is the same with the Mental Health budget, the Education budget, the Police budget and the Community Services budget.

I can understand the embarrassment of the Hon. Robyn Parker because calling in the Army and police for six months will not resolve this problem. It is a complex problem and will require all the agencies working together to find a solution to break the cycle in these communities. The New South Wales Government is providing police officers, but we want to know the Commonwealth Government's intended strategy after six months. The Commonwealth Government does not have a strategy. It is embarrassing for the Opposition.

The Hon. Robyn Parker: Point of order: Mr President, the Treasurer is debating the question. He is not providing information about specific funding from the New South Wales Government relating to child sexual assault in Aboriginal communities. We can only conclude that there is none. Can you draw him back to the question?

The PRESIDENT: Order! That is largely a debating point. There is no point of order and the Treasurer's time for speaking has expired.
REGIONAL FOOD AND WINE SUPPLIERS

The Hon. TONY CATANZARITI: My question is to the Minister for Regional Development. Will the Minister inform the House about the Government's latest efforts to support regional food and wine suppliers?

The Hon. TONY KELLY: On 18 June I had the pleasure of launching the Southern Highlands Food and Wine Showcase in the strangers' dining room at Parliament House. I know that a number of members of this place attended that event.

The Hon. Duncan Gay: It is a pity that some of them were not acknowledged.

The Hon. TONY KELLY: I apologise to the Hon. Duncan Gay. I did not realise he was there at the time. I did neglect to acknowledge him and the Hon. Don Harwin.

The Hon. Don Harwin: Or the member for Goulburn. It would have been nice.

The Hon. TONY KELLY: The member for Goulburn was late: she came in after I had left. This event was the third in a New South Wales Government series of regional food and wine showcases, which are designed to raise awareness among Sydney produce buyers and residents of the quality and diversity of food and wine products available in our regions. The aim is to generate food and wine sales, to establish contacts for regional producers and to promote regional tourism. From a trade perspective, we target providores, restaurateurs, sommeliers, hotel food and beverage managers, caterers, speciality food and wine merchants, export consolidators, media representatives and key influencers in the food and wine sectors. The New South Wales Government has previously conducted showcases of the Orange and the Hawkesbury regions with great success.

From 18 to 22 June we had 31 food and wine producers and suppliers either exhibiting or providing products for the showcase with the assistance the Moss Vale TAFE tourism and hospitality students. Members would have noticed during that week that a number of their products were available on the menu in the dining room. The range and quality of food and wine on display were highly impressive and a tribute to the growing sophistication of the Southern Highlands as a food lovers' destination. One participant was a small dairy from Robertson that produces amazing cheeses from its herd of Irish Dexter cows—the fetta won gold at the 2006 Australian Cheese Makers Awards, beating a field of more than 100, and took silver at the Sydney Royal.

The Hon. Robyn Parker: The Minister for the Hunter should do a Hunter showcase.

The Hon. TONY KELLY: No, it is not his portfolio. Highlands Heritage Pork owners Cindy Bowman and Pasquale Multari are among the few breeders of the rare black English pig, whose pork is arguably the best in the world, and was said to be enjoyed by Henry VIII—among some of the other things he enjoyed. Highlands Heritage Pork is now served at about a dozen of Sydney's top restaurants and sold at specialty butchers. Cuttaway Creek raspberry farm grows raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, and in season offers fresh fruit and raspberry tarts from its Mittagong farm. The company's table-ready jams, sauces and vinegars under the Cuttaway Creek label, which are now available through several large Sydney and Canberra outlets, are really taking off.

Also on show were exotic mushrooms, farmed barramundi, home-baked Lebanese baklava, organic cheese, milk, cream and yoghurt, Scottish style Dundee cakes and shortbread, and assorted jams, jellies, sauces, vinegars, dressings, marinades, spices and other food products. We had exotic boutique beers—Fish Rock Beer, Leather Jacket Lager and Red Emperor Amber Ale. Of course, we also had a wide selection of fine Southern Highlands wines.

Today the Southern Highlands has more than 60 vineyards, 19 wine labels, 16 cellar door operations and an established wine trail, and produces about 690 tonnes of grapes a year, which are used to produce intensely varietal cool climate wines. Like other regions along the plateau, such as the Blue Mountains to the north and the— [ Time expired.]
ABORIGINAL CHILDREN OUT-OF-HOME CARE

Mr IAN COHEN: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads, representing the Minister for Community Services. How does the Government propose to manage the potential influx of Aboriginal children into the out-of-home care system if and when the current frenzy of concern for the welfare of these children translates into the removal of many Aboriginal children from their communities? What will happen to these children if and when they come into care and will there be sufficient Aboriginal families to take these children into culturally appropriate care environments?

The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: I thank the member for his question about this very serious matter and I will refer it to the Minister for an appropriate response.
TAMWORTH SCHOOL ZONE FLASHING LIGHTS

The Hon. TREVOR KHAN: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads. During the 2006-07 financial year which schools in the Tamworth electorate have had school zone flashing lights installed to alert motorists to the 40-kilometre-an-hour speed zone? Which schools in the Tamworth electorate are due to have school zone flashing lights installed during the 2007-08 financial year?

The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: More than 100 schools have had flashing lights installed as part of the trial. Another 46 schools are part of the original trial. Because I do not know the details of every specific school, I will take the rest of the question on notice and provide an appropriate response.

The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I suggest that if honourable members have further questions they place them on notice.

Questions without notice concluded.
APEC MEETING (POLICE POWERS) BILL 2007
INDUSTRIAL AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (APEC PUBLIC HOLIDAY) BILL 2007
In Committee

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Ms SYLVIA HALE [5.08 p.m.] by leave: I move Greens amendments Nos 1, 2 and 3 in globo:
      No. 1 Page 2, clause 3 (1), line 22. Omit all words on that line.

      No. 2 Page 15, clause 24 (1) (g), line 26. Omit all words on that line.

      No. 3 Page 16, clause 26, lines 23–39. Omit all words on those lines.

These amendments omit all reference to persons on a list of excluded persons. Amendment No. 1 removes excluded persons from the definition section; amendment No. 2 removes the provision for excluding a person from a declared or restricted area because they are on an excluded persons list; and amendment No. 3 omits the section that sets up the category of excluded persons and the list of excluded persons.

The CHAIR : Order! There are too many private conversations going on in the Chamber. Members will please be quiet and Ms Hale will continue.

Ms SYLVIA HALE: I and other members of the Greens addressed at length the ill-considered powers that would be given to the Minister for Police to compile such a list, to make the list public or not make the list public, and not to tell people if they were on the list or if they were not on it. These powers are to be coupled with the power to, in effect, declare any area a restricted zone or declared zone, regardless of whether that has been indicated beforehand. We said that we believed this was setting up an extraordinarily unfortunate precedent that struck at the very heart of the right to dissent and engage in peaceful protests.

The Greens believe that these provisions should be struck out. They are not about security; they are aimed at instilling uncertainty and fear into anyone who may have been considering attending a demonstration or protest rally during the APEC period. The amendments are designed to remove what we consider to be the most—but by no means the only—repugnant sections of the bill. The amendments will remove the sections that allow the creation of a list of excluded persons at the discretion of the Commissioner of Police.

The bill contains no criteria as to who is to be placed on the excluded persons list, beyond the Orwellian phrase that the commissioner "is satisfied". It contains no right to judicial review of the list, nor appeal against being placed on such a list. A person does not have to have a criminal record to be placed on the list; a person does not have to have been charged with an offence to be placed on the list; a person does not have to have made a threat to be placed on the list; a person does not have to have been involved in violence at any time in his or her life to be placed on the list. A person may be placed on the list if the Commissioner of Police is satisfied that his or her political views represent a potential threat to person or property.

It is undoubtedly true that many members of this House have been involved in protests over the years, whether they be against apartheid, the Vietnam war, nuclear proliferation or, more recently, the war in Iraq. The very actions of members of this House of being involved in such protests could see members placed on this list. Of course, a member on the list may not know it, and they would certainly have no right to appeal against his or her inclusion on the list. The Greens believe that this is a denial of the fundamental principles of natural justice that underpin the common law.

If the amendments are adopted the bill will be slightly improved. There are many other problems with the way discretionary police powers are being expanded and civil liberties diminished by the bill, which is why the Greens will oppose the bill as such. I have, however, moved these amendments so that members of this House have the opportunity to say no to establishing a dangerous, undemocratic and authoritarian process that is so completely open to abuse. We should not sit silent as we are turned into a society marked not by individual freedom but by secret lists of excluded citizens prepared behind closed doors by unelected public officials, potentially based on gossip, hearsay and malicious rumour and not subject to any form of oversight or review.

There will come a time—as there came in the 1970s and 1980s when people became aware of the activities of the Special Branch—when we will look back in wonder, if not disgust, at how such laws were adopted with so little resistance. These amendments are an opportunity for members to say: Thus far, but no further. I urge members of this House—those who are genuinely concerned about upholding the right to peaceful protests, upholding the right to dissent, upholding a free and democratic society against police-state provisions—to support the Greens amendments.

The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL (Minister for Roads, and Minister for Commerce) [5.14 p.m.]: The Government does not support the Greens amendments, which would remove the excluded persons provisions from the bill. These provisions recognise the reality that there exists a small number of highly motivated and organised professional protesters who come to major events such as the APEC meeting with the intention of disrupting them violently. We have seen this type of protest in Australia before—for example, in Sydney in 2002 during a meeting of trade Ministers. Organised and violent protesters set up web pages providing information on improvised weapons, gas masks, and the use of marbles to unseat mounted police. We saw it again recently in Melbourne. These people pose a threat to APEC participants, police and members of the public, both peaceful protesters and passers-by.

The provision will allow police to exclude specific persons on the basis that the commissioner is satisfied they would pose a serious threat to the safety of persons or property in an APEC security area during the APEC summit. This underlines one of the critical aspects of the legislation: that it applies during the APEC summit to a specific area—not, as the Greens would have people believe, as a subversive strategy to take over the whole State. This test is narrow and specific. We are talking about persons who pose a serious threat to APEC. The listing of a person will only mean that that person may not enter the security area, which is essentially part of the central business district, for the period 30 August to 12 September. Being on the excluded persons list is not a criminal offence and persons cannot be arrested for being on the list; it simply means that persons can be removed from the security area while the APEC meeting is being held.

The Greens have taken issue with the fact that the excluded persons list may not be made public and that a person cannot challenge his or her inclusion on the list. I point out that the bill says that the commissioner may publish the names of persons on the list but that for operational reasons there simply may not be time between identifying a person as meriting exclusion and excluding them.

Ms SYLVIA HALE [5.16 p.m.]: The Minister in his response said that persons on the list are not being charged with a criminal offence; the list is simply a means by which they may be excluded from the APEC area. Surely the whole point of being allowed to protest, and particularly to protest peacefully, is that a person should be able to do so where he or she wishes, provided it does not cause any huge inconvenience. Drawing up such a list—and no-one has any idea who will be on it—fundamentally destroys people's right to protest where they see fit.

The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: They can protest outside the area.

Ms SYLVIA HALE: The Minister now says people can protest outside the area. But, of course, the great unknown in this bill is that the Commissioner of Police, or his representatives, can at any time declare any area to be a declared zone or restricted zone—he has the complete discretion. Potentially, people may not know they are on the list and they may not hear a direction that they are to be removed from the area—indeed, they may not even know that they are in the area. The bill has been deliberately framed to allow this enormous discretion to the Minister for Police. It is particularly offensive legislation.

The legislation contains no guarantee that after such lists are compiled they will be destroyed. There are no safeguards along those lines. Indeed, we can see the Commissioner of Police and the various security forces over the next few years continuing to compile such lists, because they will then be trotted out for use on future occasions. What we are establishing here is an extraordinarily unfortunate precedent whereby we are doing away with fundamental rights of the citizens of this State. Some of the leaders of the countries represented have absolutely reprehensible histories. This bill is being passed purely so the Prime Minister and the New South Wales Premier will not be embarrassed. It is all being done to intimidate the citizens of this State.

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER (Leader of the Opposition) [5.19 p.m.]: The Greens talk about the rights and freedom of individuals, but what about the rights and freedom of the workers who are going to be working at the APEC summit, whether they be police officers, people working in catering, people providing services to attendees of the summit or volunteers? The Greens do not care about those people, they just want an opportunity to create a scene for the entire world to see. They want to make sure their melons are on television all around the world as being the chief agitators at APEC, and it has nothing to do with the best interests of the workers at the summit. This is absolute hypocrisy at its best. The Greens go on about their concerns with the list of people who will be excluded from the security areas. The reality is that the people who go on the list will be people who deserve to be on it.

Ms Sylvia Hale: How do you know?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: Because, as we know, the list will be made public for everyone to see who the protagonists are and who the agitators are.
The Hon. Duncan Gay: It's Sylvia with a "y".

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: She is one of the people on a list I have seen so far. It will be a badge of honour for some of these people—"Sylvia's List". The fact is people who will be on this list deserve to be on it and at the end of the day this move by the Government is as much about protecting our visitors as it is about protecting our workers at the summit doing their jobs on behalf of the people of this State and Australia to make sure that when people visit here they receive a service that is carried out by our workers in a professional manner, no matter whether they be catering staff, hospitality or police officers. I would rather hear from the Greens that this is out of their league: instead of causing a scene at the summit and trying to create mechanisms by which people can go there and cause trouble for these workers they should take their troubles somewhere else. They should go out to Homebush Park and have their protest there where no-one will see them and they will not bother anybody.

The Hon. HENRY TSANG (Parliamentary Secretary) [5.21 p.m.]: Clause 7 (5) says that the restricted area can only be inside the declared zone. So if the area is declared it will be known to the public.

Question—That Greens amendments Nos 1 to 3 be agreed to—put.

The Committee divided.

Ayes, 4
Mr Cohen
Ms Rhiannon

Tellers,

Ms Hale
Dr Kaye

Noes, 30

Mr Ajaka
Mr Brown
Mr Catanzariti
Mr Clarke
Mr Colless
Ms Ficarra
Mr Gallacher
Miss Gardiner
Mr Gay
Ms Griffin
Mr Khan
Mr Lynn
Mr Macdonald
Mr Mason-Cox
Reverend Dr Moyes
Reverend Nile
Ms Parker
Mrs Pavey
Mr Primrose
Ms Robertson
Mr Roozendaal
Ms Sharpe
Mr Smith
Mr Tsang
Mr Veitch
Ms Voltz
Mr West
Ms Westwood


Tellers,

Mr Donnelly
Mr Harwin


Question resolved in the negative.

Greens amendments Nos 1 to 3 negatived.

Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.

The CHAIR (The Hon. Amanda Fazio): Order! As there are no other amendments to the bill, I propose to put the remainder of the bill in parts.

Part 2 [Clauses 5 to 8] agreed to.

Part 3 [Clauses 9 to 18] agreed to.

Part 4 [Clauses 19 to 23] agreed to.

Part 5 [Clauses 24 to 26] agreed to.
Part 6 [Clauses 27 and 28] agreed to.

Part 7 [Clauses 29 to 41] agreed to.

Schedules 1 to 3 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

The CHAIR: With the consent of the Committee I will put the clauses, schedules and title of the Industrial and Other Legislation Amendment (APEC Public Holiday) Bill 2007 in one question.

Clauses, schedules and title agreed to.

Bills reported from Committee without amendment.
Adoption of Report

Motion by the Hon. Henry Tsang agreed to:

That the report be adopted.

Report adopted.
Third Reading

The Hon. HENRY TSANG (Parliamentary Secretary) [5.34 p.m.], on behalf of the Hon. Eric Roozendaal: I move:

That these bills be now read a third time.

Question put.

The House divided.
Ayes, 32
Mr Ajaka
Mr Brown
Mr Catanzariti
Mr Clarke
Mr Colless
Mr Costa
Ms Fazio
Ms Ficarra
Mr Gallacher
Miss Gardiner
Mr Gay
Ms Griffin
Mr Khan
Mr Lynn
Mr Macdonald
Mr Mason-Cox
Reverend Dr Moyes
Reverend Nile
Mr Obeid
Ms Parker
Mrs Pavey
Ms Robertson
Mr Roozendaal
Ms Sharpe
Mr Smith
Mr Tsang
Mr Veitch
Ms Voltz
Mr West
Ms Westwood
Tellers,

Mr Donnelly
Mr Harwin

Noes, 4

Dr Kaye
Ms Rhiannon

Tellers,

Mr Cohen
Ms Hale


Question resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

Bills read a third time and returned to the Legislative Assembly without amendment.
JUDICIAL OFFICERS AMENDMENT BILL 2007

Bill received from the Legislative Assembly, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Ian Macdonald, on behalf of the Hon. John Hatzistergos.

Motion by the Hon. Ian Macdonald agreed to:

That standing orders be suspended to allow the passing of the bill through all its remaining stages during the present or any one sitting of the House.

Second reading set down as an order of the day for a later hour.
HUMAN CLONING AND OTHER PROHIBITED PRACTICES AMENDMENT BILL 2007
Second Reading

Debate resumed from 20 June 2007.

The Hon. IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Energy, Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for State Development) [5.44 p.m.], continuing in reply: I take this opportunity to thank all members for their contribution to this debate. I accept that speakers on both sides of this debate have been motivated by a desire to enhance and protect the dignity of human life. Both these positions are moral positions, and both deserve respect. Having said that, after listening to the debate, I am more convinced than ever that this bill is an important one for New South Wales, important for the future of scientific research in New South Wales and important for all those people suffering from debilitating diseases. I am also convinced that some of those who will vote no to this bill are waging a scare campaign that is designed at best to confuse and, at worst, to mislead. I will first address some of the specific scientific issues that have been raised.

The first is the fertilising of immature eggs. During this debate some members have repeated Cardinal Pell's claims that the bill will legalise, amongst other practices, "fertilising immature eggs taken from aborted girls with adult male sperm, which makes a human embryo with an aborted baby girl as its genetic mother". With all due respect, this claim is simply not true. Not only is this legally prohibited under the bill but it is also biologically impossible. It is biologically impossible to fertilise immature eggs. It is possible to take an immature egg from a mature woman, to mature it outside her body, and then to use that mature egg to seek to create a pregnancy. That practice is allowed under current legislation and this bill in no way varies it. It plays an important role in the practice of assisted reproductive technology by assisting women to have children. However, it has never been reported that anyone has successfully taken an immature egg from a human foetus and matured it. Even if it were possible one day, it would absolutely be unlawful under this bill.

I turn now to another misleading aspect of the debate that has been propagated by those urging other members to vote no to this bill. This House was told that news of a scientific breakthrough, published in the scientific peer review journal Nature , undermined the need for this bill to be considered at all. The article reported that separate teams of United States and Japanese experts have been able to turn normal mouse tissue cells into fully functioning embryonic stem cells without the use of eggs or embryos.

It was thus claimed that those advocating the passage of this bill are already out of date. Such a simplification of an important issue does not do justice to this debate. I welcome the news of this breakthrough as I would welcome all scientific breakthroughs that may take us closer to understanding and treating debilitating diseases that affect so many. However, the information that was provided to the House included some very select statements from a journal article in which the leading scientists in question urged the scientific community to keep going on therapeutic cloning.

The article made several points that were not made clear by those members who told this House of the breakthrough. First of all, there is no guarantee that this new research will be able to be replicated in human cells. The technique still has to be modified to work in human cells and there are several challenges to doing that. These challenges include the fact that the viruses used to reprogram the mice cells cause cancer. Second, Rudolf Jaenisch, the scientist who led the American team in producing these results, also went on to say in the article that research into embryonic stem cells made by cloning remained, "absolutely essential." Science Daily , another respected publication, also reported the encouraging results. It quotes George Daley, a stem cell researcher at the Children's Hospital Boston, who agrees the results are very exciting but says the new techniques do not negate the need to pursue other embryonic stem cell research. He says:

I think it's going to be seized upon by opponents of embryonic stem cell research to say we don't need to go forward with work already underway. That would be a real mistake.
Daley argues that it could take some time to figure out how to apply this technique to human cells and get it to the current state of embryonic stem cell research. He also makes the point that there are lots of phenomena that can be studied with embryonic stem cells—such as, understanding development, birth defects or chromosomal abnormalities—that cannot be done with cells generated by the new technique. On a broader level, to argue that because there have been advances in one type of research another type of research is unnecessary is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way the world of science works.

Some members have compared the discoveries that have been made using adult stem cells, a field of scientific endeavour that has been explored for more than 30 years, with those achieved by embryonic stem cell research, an area of science that has been pursued for less than a decade. In response, I would say that most scientists agree that research involving both embryonic and adult stem cells is necessary and that the secrets unlocked by this complementary research are likely to lead to insights in both areas.

This debate has also seen various members raise concern that under this bill women may be exploited and pressured to donate their eggs. In response, I would remind members that this bill absolutely prohibits commercial trading in human eggs, sperm or embryos. It is an offence punishable by 15 years imprisonment to give or offer payment or to receive or seek payment for human eggs, sperm or embryos. Let me make absolutely clear what is not permissible under this bill: You cannot buy or sell or offer to buy or sell a human egg, human sperm or human embryo, regardless of whether the source is in Australia or overseas.

You cannot receive a discounted or free assisted reproductive technology service in exchange for donating eggs or sperm or embryos. You can only import and export stem cell lines derived using practices consistent with Australian legislation—that is, it must be created by a process that is allowed under the Australian licensing system and consistent with guidelines that the Australian legislation refers to, for example, consent requirements. In any event, the main source of donated eggs is expected to be women who are undergoing assisted reproductive treatment through an accredited assisted reproductive treatment service provider or women having their ovaries removed for medical reasons.

Irrespective of how eggs will be donated, researchers must work within the confines set out in law. The Lockhart consultation process indicated that the Australian community accepted the use of eggs for research into infertility and serious diseases, but did not want eggs to be treated as commodities to be bought and sold. Any breach attracts a 15-year term of imprisonment.

I turn now to concerns raised by some members who have focussed on the significance of not allowing somatic cell nuclear transfer embryos to develop beyond 14 days. For the benefit of members, I would like to clarify why this point of cell development is of such importance. At the point of 14 days after development has been initiated the cells begin to become differentiated and develop into more specialised cell types. This is the stage where the "primitive streak" from which the central nervous system will develop can be seen. While the cells are alive prior to this point, in the early 1980s it was established that 14 days is the biological point at which a separate and unique individual has been created. It is at this point that research must stop.

The 14-day prohibition in this bill applies to the development of all types of non-egg and sperm embryos that can be created under licence, except for hybrid embryos, which can only develop for a period of 24 to 48 hours. That is, the 14-day prohibition applies to embryos created through somatic cell nuclear transfer and other similar processes, irrespective of whether the embryo will ever go on to develop to the primitive streak. Suggestions have been made that while Parliament is considering 14 days today, it will be asked to consider 28 days or 35 days or 56 days. I repeat: The 14-day limit has been established and stuck to since the early 1980s. It is internationally recognised as the biological point at which the primitive streak appears and the point at which research must stop.

Hwang Woo Suk, the discredited and internationally disgraced Korean scientist, has featured prominently in this debate. He has been used by opponents of this bill in two ways: first, as an example of how this sort of research can go wrong when in the wrong hands; and, second, as an example of the scientific fraud being perpetuated to justify therapeutic cloning. In response to the first issue, there are no known breaches of the previous Australian legislation. However, this isolated Korean incident is all the more reason to support the strengthened regulatory regime contained in this bill. Monitoring and licensing provisions will be enhanced and penalties will be increased. The regime was established as part of the national legislative framework that was put in place in 2002 and is overseen by the Embryo Licensing Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Obtaining a licence is not a simple matter; to date, only 10 have been issued Australia-wide. Amongst other things, an applicant must demonstrate that proper consent has been obtained from participants, protocols to ensure any restrictions on the research are adhered to and scientific and ethics approval has been granted from a Human Research Ethics Committee. This bill not only increases penalties, it provides strict licensing conditions and empowers the National Health and Medical Research Council officers to inspect premises, whether they are licensed or unlicensed. This means that should there be any concerns about whether a scientific facility of any kind is complying with the law, these inspectors are empowered to enter and investigate.

The second argument that has been made in relation to Hwang is that his eventual prosecution for fraud and coercion exposed the sensationalised claims of the scientific community with respect to the potential of embryonic stem cells. I would like to put on record some of the internationally renowned scientists that publicly urge the progression of embryonic stem cell research, including therapeutic cloning.

They are: Professor Ian Frazer, 2006 Australian of the Year, an immunologist who is best known for his work on the development of a cervical cancer vaccine; Professor Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal, who was knighted in 1977, made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1989 and named Australian of the Year in 2000; Nobel Laureate and 1997 Australian of the Year Professor Peter Doherty; Dr Jim Peacock, Australia's Chief Scientist; Professor Irving Weisman, Professor of Developmental Biology and Medical Director of the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine; Professor Martin Pera, Director of the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California; Nobel Laureate Professor Barry Marshall; Professor Roger Short; and Professor Bob Williamson, Chair of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] Committee on Pharmacogenetics, who has worked extensively for the World Health Organisation.

The House has heard members' fears that mad scientists are out for all they can get and that the motivation behind this research is fuelled by money and greed. However, I respectfully suggest to those members that their fears are misplaced. These scientists have a longstanding reputation for responsible and ethical behaviour. Surely such an eminent, respected group of people would not advocate a science if they were not convinced of its potential to cure disease and help us understand infertility? I accept that such results might not happen tomorrow, or that they might not happen in five years. I also accept that there is a possibility they will never happen. But I trust these scientists when they say there is a good chance that they might and that this is worth pursuing.

I have also listened carefully when these scientists tell us what this research may also allow us to achieve. Therapeutic cloning will allow us to study diseases in a way not possible before. It means we will be able to create models of particular diseases using a patient's own cells to study how the disease progresses in his or her body. We will be able to test treatments and therapies on these cells at speeds and intensities not possible if we were testing it on a patient. This should allow us to find answers and find them faster. I believe we should support our scientists in their research endeavours and acknowledge the potential of their work and their commitment and dedication by passing this bill today. Almost in the same breath that the opponents argue that this bill is unnecessary because of advances in adult stem cell research, they claim it should not be supported because the breakthroughs have not yet happened. The House has heard that this science is "speculative", "futuristic" and "incomprehensible".

With all due respect, this is simply wrong. First, there have been significant advances in research in the countries in which somatic cell nuclear transfer is legal; countries that include England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Sweden, China, Singapore and Israel, and in some states of the United States of America. Second, arguing that a particular type of research should not be allowed on the basis that it might not yet have produced the sought-after results constitutes a fundamental misunderstanding of scientific discovery. The time lag that generally exists between early research and eventual therapies is clear. It took nearly 20 years for the current Australian of the Year, Professor Ian Frazer—who, as I have said, is a strong advocate for legalising somatic cell nuclear transfer research—to move from his initial research towards the production of a vaccine to protect women from the human papilloma virus that causes cervical cancer. It was almost 30 years between preliminary research into heart transplants to the first successful heart transplant operation in the late 1960s.

Clearly, breakthroughs take time. Having said that, some important milestones have been reached in this field in less than a decade. For example, in 2000, proof of concept for somatic cell nuclear transfer in animal models was achieved and two years later stem cell lines from somatic cell nuclear transfer embryos in animal models demonstrated an ability to restore function to damaged tissue. There was a report in 2005 from the United Kingdom of human nuclear transfer being achieved, and this year a phase one clinical trial using human embryonic stem cells is being proposed in the United States.
I will move away from addressing what I consider are misleading scientific arguments against this bill to address some of the broader concerns honourable members have raised. The first is the potential for commercialisation under this bill. We must recognise that in any area of research, commercial benefit may follow along with the public good outcomes we all seek. This is as true for adult stem cell research or indeed any scientific research. Yes, this research should be available for the common good. The Lockhart review considered this question and the Commonwealth Government is examining the feasibility of establishing a national stem cell centre. One role a centre could provide is to create a bank of stem cell lines, therefore ensuring the research is shared and put to public good. If the Federal Government were to develop a suitable proposal, New South Wales would be strongly supportive.

I will clarify a couple of legal issues that were raised during the debate. The first is whether a corporation could be held liable under the bill. The bill creates various offences where the accused is a "person". The term "person" is a legal term that means any legal entity capable of having rights and responsibilities. It is common for the term "person" to be used to refer to both an individual and a corporation. It is not necessary for New South Wales legislation to mention corporations specifically for corporations to be covered; corporations are legally covered by this bill.

The House has also heard claims that people prosecuted under this legislation may receive less than the maximum penalty of 15 years. This is obviously true and arguably one of the main elements of our justice system—judicial discretion to impose an appropriate penalty. The point is that this bill signals loudly and clearly how serious the community and this Parliament are about punishing any breach of the rules. I remind this House that there have been no known breaches since the regime's inception in 2002. Importantly, the bill maintains the prohibition on human reproductive cloning. During this debate there has been unanimous agreement that human reproductive cloning should continue to be prohibited and that the strongest penalties should apply. The bill acknowledges the special status that many in our community give to an embryo created through the fertilisation of a human egg by a human sperm and ensures that the creation of these embryos can occur only for the purposes of reproduction—that is, the bill draws a clear distinction between therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning.

I will conclude by focusing on a theme that has been prevalent in this debate, both from those who support the bill and those who are against it. That theme is ethics. Those of us who support the bill believe it would be ethically irresponsible not to do so. We believe we have an ethical duty to the people of New South Wales to support this bill. Contrary to claims made during the debate, the community has spoken loudly and clearly on this issue—surveys and polls routinely show the majority support this sort of research. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we believe we have an ethical duty to all those suffering from debilitating disease and struggling against infertility. The bill and the research it permits offer them and their families hope. That is an ethical responsibility I believe we must all take seriously, and I commend the bill to the House.

Question—That this bill be now read a second time—put.

The House divided.
Ayes, 27
Mr Brown
Mr Catanzariti
Mr Cohen
Mr Costa
Ms Cusack
Ms Fazio
Miss Gardiner
Mr Gay
Ms Griffin
Ms Hale
Mr Harwin
Dr Kaye
Mr Macdonald
Mr Obeid
Ms Parker
Mrs Pavey
Ms Rhiannon
Ms Robertson
Mr Roozendaal
Mr Smith
Mr Tsang
Mr Veitch
Ms Voltz
Mr West
Ms Westwood


Tellers,

Mr Pearce
Ms Sharpe

Noes, 13

Mr Ajaka
Mr Clarke
Mr Della Bosca
Mr Donnelly
Ms Ficarra
Mr Gallacher
Mr Kelly
Mr Khan
Mr Lynn
Mr Mason-Cox
Reverend Nile

Tellers,

Mr Colless
Reverend Dr Moyes

Question resolved in the affirmative.


Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee

Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [6.16 p.m.]: I move Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 1:

No. 1 Page 3, schedule 1 [5], lines 16 and 17. Omit all words on those lines. Insert instead:

(a) the creation of a single cell containing 2 pro-nuclei following the fertilisation of a human oocyte by a human sperm, or

The amendment deals with the definition of a human embryo created by fertilisation. The draft paper that is the background to this legislation is the source of the new definition of a human embryo that is in the bill. It is still subject to international consultation by the National Health and Medical Research Council and has not yet been given final approved form. It is very odd to take a legal definition from a draft paper on biology that is still subject to revision after input from the international scientific community.

The effect of the definition set out in the legislation is to permit licences to be issued to create human embryos by fertilisation for the purpose of research provided they are destroyed within three hours after the point at which the paper on which this definition is based admits that a new embryo is formed. The amendment adopts a more sensible approach of selecting as a marker a visible event that is slightly prior to the point at which the biological paper says a new human embryo comes into existence. This is the appearance of two pro­nuclei, which happens up to 12 hours after fertilisation begins.

The effect of the amendment will be to achieve one of the stated purposes of the bill: to rule out the creation of a human embryo by fertilisation for any purpose other than to attempt to achieve a pregnancy in a particular woman. If the bill is not amended in this regard, it will not achieve this stated objective. The amendment will ensure that it achieves that objective.

The Hon. IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Energy, Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for State Development) [6.18 p.m.]: The Government opposes Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 1, which will frustrate national consistency. The aim of the amendment is to change the definition of a human egg and sperm embryo to that which currently applies pursuant to the 2003 New South Wales Act. The existing definition refers to the time shortly after the egg and sperm interact, that is, when the two pro­nuclei appear. Under the existing definition research can only occur on the resulting entity before the two pro-nuclei appear. This has effectively banned almost all research associated with the development of improved infertility treatments. It was a major unintended consequence of the introduction of the 2003 New South Wales Act.

The Commonwealth legislation and this bill contain a new definition of human embryo that is based on the definition developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The new definition defines an embryo from the first cellular division that occurs after fertilisation is complete—a moment which can be visualised and defined in practice and which demonstrates that the sperm and egg have successfully combined. This is consistent with the agreed position of the National Health and Medical Research Council. The amendment would criminalise almost all research associated with the development of improved infertility treatments, leading to penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment. I do not think anyone in this House would really want that.

Question—That Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 1 be agreed to—put.

The Committee divided.
Ayes, 10
Mr Ajaka
Mr Clarke
Mr Colless
Ms Ficarra
Mr Gallacher
Mr Mason-Cox
Reverend Dr Moyes
Reverend Nile
Tellers,

Mr Donnelly
Mr Lynn

Noes, 26

Mr Brown
Mr Catanzariti
Mr Cohen
Mr Costa
Ms Cusack
Mr Della Bosca
Ms Griffin
Ms Hale
Dr Kaye
Mr Macdonald
Mr Obeid
Ms Parker
Mrs Pavey
Mr Pearce
Mr Primrose
Ms Rhiannon
Ms Robertson
Mr Roozendaal
Ms Sharpe
Mr Smith
Mr Tsang
Ms Voltz
Mr West
Ms Westwood
Tellers,

Mr Harwin
Mr Veitch


Question resolved in the negative.

Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 1 negatived.

[ The Chair left the chair at 6.28 p.m. The Committee resumed at 8.15 p.m. ]

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [8.15 p.m.]: I move Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 2:

No. 2 Page 3, schedule 1 [5], lines 21 and 22. Omit "the primitive streak appears". Insert instead "it forms a blastocyst".

The reason for amendment No. 2 is that the explanatory notes claim that item [5] of schedule 1 replaces the definition of human embryo with a new definition developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The explanatory memorandum is in direct conflict with the biological definition paper from which the definition in the bill is drawn. At page 23 the paper states:
      In humans, however, parthenotes are unlikely to develop beyond the first few divisions, as the centrioles contributed by the human sperm are required for the formation of a functional centrosome (Pickering et al., 1988).

Accordingly, a proper interpretation of the bill's definition would mean that experiments in human parthenogenesis will, in the absence of any conclusive evidence, result in an entity that develops to a point at which the primitive streak is formed. Therefore, they would not be covered by the bill and could be conducted without a licence. An explanatory memorandum that makes a biologically false statement may not be held to have interpretive force, especially in a criminal trial where the defendant faces a 15-year term of imprisonment and is entitled to the benefit of any doubt.

The tables on pages 16 to 20 of the paper list 17 different reproductive technologies that could be used for human materials. Of these technologies only 9 are considered likely to result in a potential for development up to the stage at which the primitive streak is formed. In several of the other cases we simply do not know yet. This is a very unhelpful basis on which to make a definition that affects whether or not an offence carrying a sentence of 15 years imprisonment has been committed. Accepting the amendment I have moved will simply ensure that a licence is needed for all 17 technologies before they are tried using human materials.

The Hon. IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Energy, Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for State Development) [8.20 p.m.]: The Government opposes this amendment. The amendment frustrates national consistency. It changes the definition of a human embryo created through means other than fertilisation. This includes, for example, somatic cell nuclear transfer [SCNT] and parthenogenesis. The bill refers to a biological entity that has the potential to develop up to or beyond the primitive streak stage, that is, 14 days, and makes it an offence to conduct research after that time. The Lockhart committee focused on 14 days because it was the point at which the primitive streak appears. This is the internationally agreed point at which the multicellular structure is formed and a separate and unique biological entity is created. It is based on the definition developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council after substantial national and international consultation.

The amendment also refers to the biological entity that has the potential to develop in the blastocyst stage, that is, four to seven days. The Christian Democratic Party states in its explanatory notes on the amendments that the reason for the amendment is a fear that some embryos created through other means, such as parthenogenesis, may not be captured by the definition proposed in the bill. The basis given for this fear is statements that these embryos are unlikely to develop to the primitive streak or 14-day stage. However, this assumption is wrong. It does not matter whether an embryo does or does not develop, or is likely or unlikely to develop, to the 14-day stage. The key is whether it has the potential to do so. This means that the parthenotes referred to in the Christian Democratic Party amendments will be captured by the bill. Therefore, there is no reason for the amendment.

Question—That Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 2 be agreed to—put.

The Committee divided.
Ayes, 11
Mr Ajaka
Mr Clarke
Mr Donnelly
Ms Ficarra
Mr Gallacher
Mr Kelly
Mr Mason-Cox
Reverend Dr Moyes
Reverend Nile
Tellers,

Mr Colless
Mr Lynn

Noes, 26

Mr Brown
Mr Catanzariti
Mr Cohen
Mr Costa
Ms Cusack
Mr Gay
Ms Griffin
Ms Hale
Dr Kaye
Mr Macdonald
Mr Obeid
Ms Parker
Mrs Pavey
Mr Pearce
Mr Primrose
Ms Rhiannon
Ms Robertson
Mr Roozendaal
Ms Sharpe
Mr Smith
Mr Tsang
Ms Voltz
Mr West
Ms Westwood
Tellers,

Mr Harwin
Mr Veitch


Question resolved in the negative.

Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 2 negatived.

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [8.30 p.m.]: I move Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 3:

No. 3 Page 5, schedule 1 [8]. Insert after line 16:
      10 Offence—using precursor cells from a human embryo or a human foetus to create a human embryo, or developing such an embryo

      A person commits an offence if the person uses precursor cells taken from a human embryo or a human foetus, intending to create a human embryo, or intentionally develops an embryo so created.

      Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 15 years.

      This is a very important amendment. There has been some controversy about this aspect in the media. Some critics have said that this raises an unnecessary fear and that the amendment is not necessary. However, there is evidence from scientists involved in this research that this is exactly what some people plan to do. The Senate inquiry into the prohibition of human cloning for reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006 asked the Lockhart members:

      Is your Recommendation (26) that "creation of embryos using precursor cells from a human embryo or a human foetus should be permitted, under licence" intended to allow the creation of embryos by fertilisation using ova obtained from a foetus?

      The Lockhart members replied on 25 October 2006:

      The Committee's recommendations envisaged that an embryo could be created for research in this way.

      In other words, using material from a human foetus. The bill contains this exact recommendation and would, if passed as drafted, allow the creation of embryos using an aborted baby girl's immature eggs. These immature precursor cells could be matured to an egg and either fertilised with a male sperm or used to create a cloned embryo. In either of these ways, the aborted female foetus would become the "mother" of an embryo, which would itself then be destroyed in research.

      As I said, some people have said this is not envisaged and they were surprised that this was raised in some of the criticism of the bill. In my explanatory notes to the amendment I have referred to some of the cases on this aspect. For example, as long ago as 1994 Scottish scientist Dr Roger Gosden transplanted ovaries from foetal mice into adult mice, successfully producing fertilisable eggs. In response to that proposal the British Parliament passed a law that prohibited anyone from using "female germ cells taken or derived from an embryo or foetus or using embryos created by using such cells". In the United States, President Clinton rejected a recommendation from the human embryo research panel of the National Institute of Health that would have permitted Federal funding of projects involving the use of foetal eggs to create research embryos.

      In 2003 an Israeli scientist, Dr Tal Biron-Shental, announced that her team had conducted work on the maturing egg follicles from the ovarian tissue of seven aborted human foetuses, ranging from 22 to 33 weeks gestation. Again, this led to some controversy. Eggs could only be derived from aborted foetuses of at least 16 weeks gestation. The method of abortion would have to result in the foetal body being delivered intact and as near to alive as possible in order to harvest the ovarian tissue while it was still fresh, and immediately freeze it for subsequent use.

      Sadly, in New South Wales in 2006 there were 209 second-trimester—between 14 and 26 weeks gestation—abortions funded by Medicare. So the danger of aborted foetuses is a real one. The argument the Minister raises is basically that we do not want to interfere with the Commonwealth legislation; we should mirror that legislation. However, as I said in relation to amendment No. 2, which was lost, if the Commonwealth legislation is wrong or faulty this Parliament has a responsibility to do the right thing. If we adopt the correct policy, the Commonwealth would have to amend its legislation in the Federal Parliament to ensure that it conforms with our legislation. I do not believe we should blindly follow the Commonwealth legislation if it contains errors as a result of the way in which it was drafted.

      The Hon. IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Energy, Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for State Development) [8.37 p.m.]: The Government opposes Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 3, which would undermine national consistency. The explanatory notes to the amendment state that the reason for the amendment is the desire to:

      prohibit the creation of embryos using an aborted baby girl's immature eggs. These immature precursor cells could be matured to an egg and either fertilised with a male sperm, or used to create a cloned embryo.

      As I said in my second reading speech, this process is wrong from both the scientific and legal perspective. It is biologically impossible to fertilise immature eggs. Even if one day it were to be possible, it would be unlawful under our Act. For that reason we oppose the amendment.

      Question—That Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 3 be agreed to—put.

      The Committee divided.
      Ayes, 10
      Mr Clarke
      Mr Colless
      Ms Ficarra
      Mr Gallacher
      Mr Kelly
      Mr Lynn
      Reverend Dr Moyes
      Reverend Nile
      Tellers,

      Mr Donnelly
      Mr Mason-Cox

Noes, 25

Mr Brown
Mr Cohen
Mr Costa
Ms Cusack
Mr Gay
Ms Griffin
Ms Hale
Mr Harwin
Dr Kaye
Mr Macdonald
Mr Obeid
Ms Parker
Mrs Pavey
Mr Primrose
Ms Rhiannon
Ms Robertson
Mr Roozendaal
Ms Sharpe
Mr Smith
Mr Tsang
Ms Voltz
Mr West
Ms Westwood

Tellers,

Mr Catanzariti
Mr Veitch


Question resolved in the negative.

Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 3 negatived.
Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [8.46 p.m.], by leave: I move Christian Democratic Party amendments Nos 4 to 6 in globo:

No. 4 Page 6, schedule 1 [8], lines 5–9. Omit all words on those lines. Insert instead:
      13 Offence—creating a hybrid embryo

      A person commits an offence if the person intentionally creates a hybrid embryo.
      Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 15 years.

      No. 5 Page 8, schedule 1 [8], proposed section 17, lines 3–11. Omit all words on those lines.

      No. 6 Page 8, schedule 1 [8], proposed section 18A, lines 23–33. Omit all words on those lines.

      These are very important amendments that deal with another controversial aspect of the proposed legislation. They are designed to prevent the creation of hybrid embryos. Some critics of the amendments and those who oppose the bill said the creation of hybrid embryos could not happen, that it was only a scare tactic. But it is included in the legislation. The purpose of that provision in the bill is to facilitate the testing of human sperm using animal eggs. The only such test that is carried out anywhere in the world uses hamster eggs.

      For quarantine reasons hamsters and hamster eggs have been a prohibited import into Australia for some time. The hamster egg penetration test as it is used in other countries is falling into disrepute as it is unreliable. Therefore this provision in the bill has no practical application. Given the offensiveness of this provision to human dignity and the complete lack of any actual scientific application of it, why not remove it from the bill? In the explanatory notes to the amendments I have quoted various experts on this issue who have been critical of the inclusion of this provision in the bill. A learned professor, Professor Robert Jansen, Managing Director of Sydney IVF Limited, in his evidence to the committee in the Senate inquiry when referring to the use of hamster eggs and the question of whether it is illegal, said:

      No, it is not. Bringing hamsters into Australia is illegal, not bringing hamster eggs. I am afraid you are wrong. It is perfectly plain: hamsters are prohibited imports, but not hamster eggs.

      After the inquiry Professor Jansen must have made further investigation because he sent the following message to the Senate committee:

      The question on page 62 addressed to me … which I answered by saying that hamster eggs, as opposed to hamsters, were not an illegal import, may not be correct.

      In other words, he found out later that it is illegal to import either hamsters or hamster eggs. Why is this provision in the bill unless there is a proposal to change the quarantine laws of Australia to allow hamsters or hamster eggs to be imported for use by scientists in an attempt to produce cloned embryos? If honourable members give my amendments proper regard, they will agree with them. I do not believe there can be any possible argument in support of the creation of hybrid embryos.

      The Hon. IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Energy, Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for State Development) [8.50 p.m.]: The Government opposes Christian Democratic Party amendments Nos 4, 5 and 6, which undermine national consistency. With regard to amendment No. 4, the only activities contemplated by the bill in relation to the creation of hybrid embryos are to test the fertility of human sperm. Testing the quality of sperm using animal eggs was common practice in the United Kingdom during the 1980s. It was used as both a research tool and a clinical tool. The structure that is created cannot develop any further because of genetic dissimilarities between the two entities.

      The legislation reinforces the biological impossibility of development by prohibiting development of a hybrid embryo for a period up to but not including the first cell division, which is approximately 24 hours but less than 48 hours. The practice was allowed in New South Wales prior to the introduction of the national legislation in 2002. Given that the structure cannot develop, is not an embryo and may have research applications, there seems no logical reason to prohibit it.

      Amendment No. 5 frustrates the main object of the bill, which is to enable research to be undertaken to understand and treat infertility and significant life-threatening and debilitating diseases. The research permitted by the bill will assist in understanding normal and abnormal cell development, provide disease models and enable the development and testing of drugs and other treatments at speeds and intensities not able to be used on human patients and, in the longer term, provide compatible tissues for transplantation. Amendment No. 6 relates to amendment No. 3, which has already been opposed and negatived.

      Question—That Christian Democratic Party amendments Nos 4 to 6 be agreed to—put.

      The Committee divided.
      Ayes, 10
      Mr Colless
      Mr Donnelly
      Mr Gallacher
      Mr Kelly
      Mr Lynn
      Mr Mason-Cox
      Reverend Dr Moyes
      Reverend Nile
      Tellers,

      Mr Clarke
      Ms Ficarra

Noes, 25

Mr Brown
Mr Catanzariti
Mr Cohen
Mr Costa
Ms Cusack
Mr Gay
Ms Griffin
Ms Hale
Mr Harwin
Dr Kaye
Mr Macdonald
Mr Obeid
Ms Pavey
Mr Primrose
Ms Rhiannon
Ms Robertson
Mr Roozendaal
Ms Sharpe
Mr Smith
Mr Tsang
Mr Veitch
Ms Voltz
Ms Westwood

Tellers,

Ms Parker
Mr West


Question resolved in the negative.

Christian Democratic Party amendments Nos 4 to 6 negatived.

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [8.58 p.m.]: I move Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 7:

No. 7 Pages 8–9, schedule 1 [8], proposed section 18B, lines 34–36 on page 8 and lines 1–6 on page 9. Omit all words on those lines.

Under the existing legislation, which this bill will replace, a woman donating for the purposes of experimentation has the opportunity to give her agreement. The ethical guidelines state:
      A person responsible for an embryo must be free at any time to withdraw consent to further involvement in the research. In view of the fact that once an embryo has been destroyed it cannot be restored, it is recommended that the consent of the persons responsible to a use that will damage or destroy an embryo must not be acted upon until a suitable fixed period of time for reconsideration has been allowed, normally at least two weeks after their consent to such research.

      This constitutes a cooling-off period, similar to the cooling-off periods we come across in society relating to the purchase of products, and so on. The original legislation provided for a period of two weeks during which a lady could change her mind, but in the proposed ethical guidelines, which have been written to reflect the Commonwealth legislation and which we are rubber stamping with this bill, that period could be reduced to as little as 48 hours. Previously a woman was allowed up to two weeks to change her mind after initially saying yes; the bill will give a woman only 48 hours after she has said yes to change her mind.

      During the period between the diagnosis of the embryo as unsuitable for implantation and its irretrievable destruction during research, the woman will be undergoing transfer of any suitable embryos and anxiously awaiting evidence that pregnancy has been achieved. It is not right that further pressure should be placed on a woman at a time when she is already under great stress as a result of her efforts to become pregnant. The woman will no longer have two weeks in which to change her mind; she will have to make up her mind within 48 hours. If this provision is removed from the bill, the two-week cooling off period will be retained.

      The Hon. IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Energy, Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for State Development) [9.01 p.m.]: The Government opposes the amendment, which undermines national consistency. It will supplant and undermine the national processes of the National Health and Medical Research Council in developing appropriate and nationally consistent guidelines in this regard. The process by which the guidelines have been formulated, including the expertise brought to bear on them and the extensive consultation carried out in developing them, will produce a better product than that proposed by the amendment.
      The legislation already requires research to be undertaken in ways consistent with the guidelines. The amendment will complicate procedure for obtaining gametes for New South Wales researchers, who will have to comply with two overlapping but different regimes. Therefore, the amendment adds nothing to the benefits brought by the guidelines while adding regulatory confusion and burdens. It is unclear why the proposed amendment relating to consent for the use in research of excess embryos unsuitable for implantation seeks to remove the protection afforded by the Commonwealth Act. It should be opposed.

      Question—That Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 7 be agreed to—put.

      The Committee divided.
      Ayes, 10
      Mr Clarke
      Mr Colless
      Ms Ficarra
      Mr Gallacher
      Mr Kelly
      Mr Lynn
      Mr Mason-Cox
      Reverend Nile
      Tellers,

      Mr Donnelly
      Reverend Dr Moyes

Noes, 25

Mr Brown
Mr Catanzariti
Mr Cohen
Mr Costa
Ms Cusack
Mr Gay
Ms Griffin
Ms Hale
Mr Harwin
Dr Kaye
Mr Macdonald
Mr Obeid
Ms Parker
Mr Primrose
Ms Rhiannon
Ms Robertson
Mr Roozendaal
Ms Sharpe
Mr Smith
Mr Tsang
Ms Voltz
Mr West
Ms Westwood

Tellers,

Mrs Pavey
Mr Veitch


Question resolved in the negative.

Christian Democratic Party amendment No. 7 negatived.

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [9.07 p.m.]: by leave, I move my amendments Nos 8 and 9 in globo:

No. 8 Page 10, schedule 2. Insert after line 13:

[4] Section 6 (1A) and (1B)

Insert after section 6 (1):

(1A) The Commonwealth embryo laws are modified for the purposes of this Act so that sections 20 (1) (d) and (f) and 24 (8) of the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 of the Commonwealth have no application as part of the law of this State.

(1B) The Commonwealth embryo laws are modified for the purposes of this Act so that a licence issued under Division 4 of Part 2 of the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 of the Commonwealth is subject to the condition that the provisions set out in schedule 1 must have been complied with before the carrying out of the activity authorised by the licence.

No. 9 Page 11, schedule 2. Insert after line 6:

[5] Schedule 1

Insert at the end of the Act:

Schedule 1 Additional conditions of licences
(Section 6)
1 Definitions

In this schedule:

dependent relationship means a relationship where unequal power exists between the persons in the relationship including a relationship between:

(a) students and teachers, and

(b) employees and their employers or supervisors, and

(c) persons with chronic conditions or disabilities and their carers, and

(d) patients and health care professionals.

gamete means a human egg or human sperm.

National Statement means the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans issued by the NHMRC, as in force from time to time.

relevant activity means an activity that may be authorised by a licence under Division 4 of Part 2 of the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 of the Commonwealth.

2 Obtaining a gamete for the purpose of an activity that may be licensed

(1) A gamete may be obtained for the purpose of a relevant activity only in accordance with the National Statement.

(2) If the obtaining of a gamete for a relevant activity requires the person donating the gamete to undergo a medical procedure, the person carrying out the medical procedure must not be a person involved in carrying out the relevant activity.

(3) Donation of a gamete for a relevant activity must be voluntary and free from exploitation and coercion.

(4) If the donation by a person of a gamete for a relevant activity involves more than low risk from non­therapeutic procedures, the person donating the gamete must not be in a dependent relationship with the person or other body carrying out the relevant activity.

(5) For the purposes of subclause (4), the donation by a person of a gamete for a relevant activity involves low risk only if the only foreseeable risk is one of discomfort.

3 Information to be given to person donating a gamete or other cell

A person must be given the following information before consenting, or being asked to consent, to the obtaining or use of a gamete for a relevant activity, or the obtaining or use of any other cell for the creation of a human embryo as (or as part of) a relevant activity:

(a) a statement that consent to the obtaining or use of the gamete or other cell for the relevant activity is voluntary,

(b) a description of the relevant activity for which the gamete or other cell and any products derived from it will be used and any likely benefits from the relevant activity, including an estimate of when the benefits might be realised,

(c) a statement of the potential risks of obtaining and donating the gamete or other cell, including details of any risks to the future fertility of the person,

(d) a description of the procedures for obtaining the gamete or other cell from the person,

(e) a statement about how the person may withdraw from the obtaining or the use of the gamete or other cell, including details of any risks that may arise or additional procedures that may be required as a result of the withdrawal,

(f) information about counselling services available to the person,

(g) a statement about how the person's privacy will be protected,

(h) a statement about the potential financial interests of those carrying out the relevant activity in the outcome of any research program of which the activity forms part, including any future financial gains those persons may receive if the program gives rise to a commercial product,

(i) any other information the National Statement requires the person to be given.

These are very important amendments. My previous amendments attempted to delete proposed sanctions from the bill. These amendments will add additional conditions of licences. Why is this necessary? We all know what happened in the Korean cloning scandal. Where did Dr Hwang Woo Suk, who has been found to be a fraud, get his eggs? He got them from his own researchers by force, by coercion, I imagine by presenting to them the scenario that unless they donated their eggs they would lose their jobs or not be allowed to continue in that research. This issue was raised with the Chief Scientific Officer of the Australian Stem Cell Centre, Dr Stephen Livesey. Dr Livesey said that Dr Hwang's actions were unacceptable and research using reproductive tissues should be confined to countries with regulations that ensured high ethical standards. This is a key argument for the amendment. Dr Livesey was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 25 November 2005 as saying:

A similar issue would not arise in Australia. We have clear legislative boundaries, independent ethical regulators and licensing to protect against this type of breach.

Dr Livesey used the words "clear legislative boundaries". In fact, we have no legislative boundaries. The bill contains no conditions on collecting human eggs or human sperm. That is why amendment No. 9 is very important. It does not undermine the Commonwealth legislation or the proposed State legislation. It simply puts into the bill valuable protections and establishes the definition of "dependent relationship". This type of provision is used in legislation relating to other areas of society, for example, with regard to the relationship between teachers and students. Amendment No. 9 raises the dependent relationship between scientists and their staff, particularly female staff. The amendment seeks to include in the definition:

dependent relationship means a relationship where unequal power exists between the persons in the relationship including a relationship between:

(a) students and teachers, and

(b) employees and their employers or supervisors, and

(c) persons with chronic conditions or disabilities and their carers, and

(d) patients and health care professionals.

This amendment will provide protection so that as this area of scientific experimentation expands across various laboratories in Australia, if there is a shortage of human female eggs, pressure could be placed on female staff. They may be told that the laboratory is running out of time and cannot wait and it would be a great help if the female staff would donate their eggs. Such a statement may be made with an implied threat that non-cooperation may affect their future careers. I believe all members should be concerned about this issue, particularly female members, to ensure that women working in this area are not pressured or exploited in any way. This amendment will protect them.

The Hon. IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Energy, Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for State Development) [9.12 p.m.]: With regard to the last part of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile's contribution, I made it clear in my second reading speech that the legislation outlaws the type of operation he refers to. The honourable member referred to pressure being applied to women to donate eggs. I remind him that I said in my second reading speech that this bill absolutely prohibits commercial trading in human eggs, sperm or embryos. It is an offence punishable by 15 years imprisonment to give or to offer payment or to receive or seek payments for human egg, sperm or embryos. The amendments seek to undermine the national consistency that has been achieved through the various processes over the past few years. To undermine that consistency would undermine the overall intent of the bill.

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [9.13 p.m.]: The Minister said that there is protection in the legislation to prevent commercial trading. I did not refer to commercial trading. I did not mention payment for human eggs. I referred to coercion of or pressure placed on women to donate their eggs. That is not covered by the bill.

The Hon. IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Energy, Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for State Development) [9.14 p.m.]: The National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines are very clear with regard to preventing this type of activity to cajole staff into supplying eggs. Such activity is very much against the guidelines.

Question—That Christian Democratic Party amendments Nos 8 and 9 be agreed to—put.

The Committee divided.
Ayes, 10
Mr Clarke
Ms Ficarra
Mr Gallacher
Mr Kelly
Mr Lynn
Mr Mason-Cox
Reverend Dr Moyes
Reverend Nile
Tellers,

Mr Colless
Mr Donnelly

Noes, 25

Mr Brown
Mr Catanzariti
Mr Cohen
Mr Costa
Ms Cusack
Mr Gay
Ms Griffin
Ms Hale
Dr Kaye
Mr Macdonald
Mr Obeid
Ms Parker
Mrs Pavey
Mr Primrose
Ms Rhiannon
Ms Robertson
Mr Roozendaal
Ms Sharpe
Mr Smith
Mr Tsang
Ms Voltz
Mr West
Ms Westwood

Tellers,

Mr Harwin
Mr Veitch


Question resolved in the negative.

Christian Democratic Party amendments Nos 8 and 9 negatived.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported from Committee without amendment.
Adoption of Report

Motion by the Hon. Ian Macdonald agreed to:

That the report be adopted.

Report adopted.
Third Reading

The Hon. IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Energy, Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for State Development) [9.19 p.m.]: I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Question put.

The House divided.
Ayes, 26

Mr Brown
Mr Catanzariti
Mr Cohen
Mr Costa
Ms Cusack
Ms Fazio
Mr Gay
Ms Griffin
Mr HarwinDr Kaye
Mr Macdonald
Mr Obeid
Ms Parker
Mrs Pavey
Mr Pearce
Ms Rhiannon
Ms Robertson
Mr RoozendaalMs Sharpe
Mr Smith
Mr Tsang
Ms Voltz
Mr West
Ms Westwood
Tellers,
Ms Hale
Mr Veitch
Noes,
Noes, 13


Mr Ajaka
Mr Clarke
Mr Colless
Mr Della Bosca
Mr Donnelly
Ms Ficarra
Mr Gallacher
Mr Kelly
Mr Mason-Cox
Reverend Dr Moyes
Reverend Nile

Tellers,

Mr Khan
Mr Lynn

Noes, 13

Mr Ajaka
Mr Clarke
Mr Colless
Mr Della Bosca
Mr Donnelly
Ms Ficarra
Mr Gallacher
Mr Kelly
Mr Mason-Cox
Reverend Dr Moyes
Reverend Nile

Tellers,

Mr Khan
Mr Lynn

Question resolved in the affirmative.


Motion agreed to.

Bill read a third time and returned to the Legislative Assembly without amendment.

CRIMES (ADMINISTRATION OF SENTENCES) AMENDMENT (ASSISTANCE IN FOREIGN CRIMINAL MATTERS) BILL 2007

CHILDREN (CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS) AMENDMENT (PUBLICATION OF NAMES) BILL 2007

Bills received from the Legislative Assembly.

Leave granted for procedural matters to be dealt with on one motion without formality.

Motion, by leave, by the Hon. Penny Sharpe agreed to:
      That the bills be read a first time and printed, standing orders be suspended on contingent notice for remaining stages and the second readings of the bills be set down as orders of the day for a later hour of the sitting.

      Bills read a first time and ordered to be printed.

      Second readings set down as orders of the day for a later hour.
DRUG SUMMIT LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE AMENDMENT (TRIAL PERIOD EXTENSION) BILL 2007
Second Reading

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE (Parliamentary Secretary) [9.30 p.m.], on behalf of the Hon. John Hatzistergos: I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

As the second reading speech has already been delivered in the other place, I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

I am pleased to bring before the House the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill 2007. The bill provides for the continuation for a further four years of the trial of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, which commenced in Kings Cross more than six years ago, in May 2001. The bill enables the centre to continue providing a service for a group of marginalised long-term drug users with significant health and social problems who have either failed drug treatment or never sought it before. A further trial period will also enable a longer-term evidence base to be established as to the effectiveness of the centre. This is of particular importance, given the long-term drug use of its client group and will inform any future decisions on permanency of the centre.

Members will be aware that the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre arose from the 1999 New South Wales Drug Summit, which called for the trial of this sort of facility in an area of high drug use. It is clear from the independent and final evaluation report released today by the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the University of New South Wales that the trial of this facility has clearly met the Government's objectives to decrease overdose deaths, provide a gateway to treatment, reduce discarded needles and drug users injecting in public places, and help reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.

The report states that the evidence shows the centre has provided a service that reduces the impact of overdose-related events and other health consequences of injecting drug use, reduces public injecting and community visibility of injecting drug use, provides access to drug treatment and other services to highly socially marginalised people and has not led to an increase in crime or social disturbance in its immediate vicinity. In addition, on 21 December 2006, the Director of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reported that there is no evidence that the centre has had an adverse impact on drug-related crime. It is clear also from this independent evidence that without the centre and its services this group of drug users would be at extreme risk of drug­related death and morbidity.

The centre has managed more than 2,100 drug overdoses without death or serious brain or vital organ damage; made more than 2,800 referrals to drug treatment and more than 3,400 referrals to health or social welfare services; helped reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, with advice on safe injecting practices provided on more than 21,700 occasions; and distributed more than 205,000 needles and syringes. I am sure I do not have to remind members of the great cost and burden such adverse outcomes would have for the individuals involved, their families, the community and services in increased policing and health system costs, and diminished public amenity in the Kings Cross area.

As members would know, there were significant local business concerns amongst some operators when the trial was being developed. They were concerned about the possible adverse impact of such a facility in Kings Cross. I am pleased to report that the independent evaluator has also found that since the trial started the support of local business for the centre has increased. In fact, there is now, to quote the evaluator, "high and sustained" support from the majority of business operators, with support now at about 68 per cent. In addition, since the centre opened in May 2001 9,778 individuals have been assessed and registered with the centre; there has been a total of 391,170 visits by registered clients, with approximately 6,500 visits in April 2007; and 113 in every 1,000 visits have resulted in provision of health care, medical and social services by centre staff on a total of 44,082 occasions.

Residents and business operators in local areas have reported that there are fewer discarded syringes and less public injecting. Between January 2000 and January 2007 there was a 48 per cent decrease in needles and syringes collected within 500 metres of the centre. The Government believes it is crucial to maintaining the positive outcomes that have been identified to date for this marginalised group by continuing to operate the centre, while at the same time striving to improve their likelihood of accessing and remaining in drug treatment and associated social welfare support. These good outcomes are confirmed in the report on the statutory review into the centre and its legislation required under section 36B of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act.

The report concludes that the centre is operating well, that it is conducted to an appropriate standard and is regulated and monitored to a high degree, as is appropriate for a service of this nature. I remind members that the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre is just one component of the Government's comprehensive response to the complex problems of drug abuse in our society. Law enforcement continues to be our first line of defence in the war on drugs. As just one example, in 2006 New South Wales police laid more than 20,000 drug-related charges. Almost 1,000 of them related to heroin.

Education and early intervention is our second line of defence. Since the 1999 Drug Summit the Government has invested more than $406 million in two dedicated drug budgets on a range of anti-drug initiatives across the areas of treatment, education, prevention and law enforcement. The third line of defence is harm minimisation. Programs such as the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre and the needle and syringe exchange program are both reducing disease and saving lives. While demand remains we will provide these services but we would like nothing better than for demand to decrease. That is why the bill will include, for the first time, a threshold for client attendance levels. If client attendance falls below 75 per cent of current daily levels, a formal review of the need for the centre will be triggered.

I turn now to the provisions in the bill. The bill amends the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985. Part 2A of the Act currently permits the operation and use, under licence, of a single medically supervised injecting centre but restricts the period during which such a licence can have effect to a trial period to conclude on 31 October 2007. The primary amendment in the bill is to change the period during which such a licence can have effect to a trial period to conclude on 31 October 2011, under section 36A. The provisions allowing only a single centre and single licence will not change. The Government recognises that the programs should be subject to continued review, not least to ensure that it is meeting its medical objectives. To this end, section 36B will be amended to provide for ongoing review of the centre. This will include review of the relevant provisions of the Act and review for the purposes of medical and scientific research into the treatment of drug addiction.

The Government is also mindful to ensure accountability for public moneys provided to operate the centre and to ensure it remains financially viable. To this end, the bill also includes provision, in new section 36K (2), to enable the regulations under the Act to prescribe a level of service activity for the centre. Schedule 2 to the bill amends the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Regulation 2006 to set the level of service activity as 208 client visits per day averaged over any one-month period. This figure is based on the average client visit levels reported over the last four years of the operation of the centre in the review report.

As I mentioned earlier, amendments to section 36K will require the responsible authorities to conduct a specific review of the viability of the centre if service levels fall below 75 per cent of this figure. If, after such a review, the responsible authorities consider there is no longer a need for the centre, or it is no longer economically viable, the authorities will be entitled to revoke the licence. The Government has taken a cautious approach with this initiative and it will continue to do so. We will continue to strictly regulate and tightly control the program by retaining the existing legislative framework and licensing system with the Commissioner of Police and Director General of NSW Health remaining as the responsible authorities.

We will continue to closely monitor and rigorously evaluate the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness against the Government's objectives. We will continue to review all available research and evidence to help the Government make informed decisions about how to deal with the drug problem. Research as to the medical and scientific effectiveness of the centre will also provide information critical to support such decision-making. In closing, the Government would like to recognise the efforts of Reverend Harry Herbert and Uniting Care as well as the director of the centre, Dr Ingrid van Beek, and all the dedicated staff at the centre over the past six years. I commend the bill to the House.

The Hon. MARIE FICARRA [9.30 p.m.]: I indicate that the Liberal members of this House will have a conscience vote on the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill 2007. The purpose of the bill is to extend the operation of the Kings Cross heroin injecting room for another four years, until 31 October 2011. Australia is considered one of the world's most advanced harm minimisation countries. Adopted in 1985, harm minimisation puts little or no emphasis on the prevention of drug use. We now have one of the highest rates of illicit drug abuse among OECD countries. So, after 22 years of a failed policy, why are we continuing this farce? This is the longest drug injecting trial ever. One would have to ask: Is it just another step in the eventual decriminalisation of drugs in the State? We already have personal use cannabis in this category. Many of us ask: What next?
Harm minimisation has been a failure. This injecting room has been a failure. The Minister has admitted that no more are planned to be opened in the near future. If performance criteria were to be applied to the operations of this drug injecting room it would be found to be wanting. For example, how many addicts have been cured of their addiction? How many addicts are now living happy, productive lives? How many referrals have occurred from the drug injecting room to rehabilitation and detoxification centres? What a waste of resources! Meanwhile government and non-government rehabilitation programs are suffering from a lack of resourcing and a lack of funding. The Government is very out of touch with New South Wales families.

The drug injecting room should be closed and the funding redirected to the establishment of more beds in rehabilitation centres, which will focus on abstinence from the use of illicit drugs. The injecting room trial should have been completed four years ago with the publication of the 2003 government-funded evaluation, which I will touch upon later. At that time the evaluation should have been sent to the International Narcotics Control Board and the centre should have been closed. In 2001 the International Narcotics Control Board declared the trial to be a breach of the United Nations drug treaties. The ongoing operation of the facility, under the guise of a trial, means that the breach continues. Twelve years is not a trial; it is institutionalisation, as stated often by the organisation Drug-Free Australia.

The original purpose of the trial—to prevent overdoses from heroin—is no longer relevant. According to the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention Australia's statistics indicate the highest level of illicit drug abuse amongst the OECD countries, due to our inappropriate harm minimisation policies predominating over drug prevention policies. Australia has the highest level of cannabis and amphetamines use and the fifth highest use of cocaine. The Federal Government's prevention messages and top work by Federal police have seen solid reductions in illicit drug use in Australia despite harm minimisation still predominating.

Adopted in 1985, harm minimisation accepts that people will use illicit drugs and seek to minimise the harm of their doing so. Consequently, harm minimisation places little emphasis on the prevention of drug use. Prevention and early intervention programs send a clear message that the harmful effects of drug use are too great to be socially acceptable and that Australians support a drug-free society. What are we doing to help heroin addicts now? Studies show that up to 45 per cent of methadone patients still use illegal heroin, and many stay on methadone for decades.

In relation to the heroin injecting room trial we are told that the Minister for Health in the other place has made such approval conditional upon client visits not declining below 75 per cent of current daily rates of 208 clients per day. If this happens, a formal review by the Commissioner of Police and the Director General of NSW Health will examine the economic viability of the centre. The Government needs this formal review now, and it has lots of performance parameters, as well as social, medical and environmental feedback, to conduct such a review. Drug addiction can only be reduced through large-scale and well-funded preventive measures such as detoxification, treatment and rehabilitation.

This review cannot be an inside job—like the so-called independent, government-funded evaluation in 2003, done by a research team of five, three of whom were colleagues in the same New South Wales university medical faculty as the medical director of the injecting room. A fourth researcher developed, during the 1999 New South Wales Drug Summit, a structure for the proposed drug injecting room trial. The public and the Opposition have the right to question the independence of such an evaluation team.

The centre has always been a vehicle for illegal drug consumption and has not been successful in helping drug users kick their addiction. Addicts are given assistance to continue their deadly lifestyle. The injecting room is clearly a facility that does not meet its publicised reason for existence. The centre supports the use of any drug that users want, as often as they want. The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board stated in its 2001 report:

… the operation of such facilities, where addicts inject themselves with illicit substances, condones illicit drug use and drug trafficking and runs counter to the provisions of the international drug treaties.

The trial does not utilise legal heroin but, rather, depends on clients illegally procuring heroin, illegally transporting heroin, and illegally using heroin. Furthermore, as I have said, the injecting room trial should have concluded in 2003, when the evaluation should have been forwarded to the International Narcotics Control Board and the injecting room should have been closed. There are five common myths associated with drug injecting rooms, as reported by the Drug Advisory Council of Australia. These are: injecting rooms are widespread internationally; injecting rooms are legal; injecting rooms provide a solution to injecting drug use; injecting rooms are safe; and injecting rooms have widespread community support. The only countries that allow injecting rooms are Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Spain, Norway and Luxembourg.

The Hon. Penny Sharpe: And Canada.

The Hon. MARIE FICARRA: I am not sure about that, but I appreciate the interjection if it is correct. Injecting rooms—and the Kings Cross injecting room in particular—facilitate drug use and maintain drug addictions. An illicit drug injecting room fuels demand for illicit drugs and channels money into the hands of drug criminals. Australia's high demand for illicit drugs causes problems for government agencies trying to stop drug imports and cash to criminals. It is of the greatest significance in this debate that New South Wales is the only State in Australia to approve a drug injecting room. More than $15 million has been spent running the injecting room since it opened. At least another $10 million will be spent running it if the trial is extended to October 2011.

The injecting room costs this State $2.5 million a year to operate. This would be enough to fund 109 drug rehabilitation beds or supply more than 700 dependent heroin users with life-saving naltrexone implants for an entire year. In fact, we hoped that the Government would see fit to allocate in its budget moneys to such programs to free drug users from their deadly addiction and rehabilitate them back into society, into their family and social units, to live productive and happier lives. But I fear we will not have progress on that front.

For instance, implants of naltrexone—a substance similar to narceine in that it blocks the opioid receptors from responding to opiates—last up to six months and feed naltrexone into the bloodstream, reducing cravings for opiates and preventing any chance of overdose. Trials with more than 2,000 naltrexone implants have thus far had excellent long-term and short-term success. Such programs need increased government priority, resourcing and funding. Drug Free Australia found that the rate of overdose in the injecting room is 36 times higher than on the streets of Kings Cross, at least 40 times higher than the clients' previous history and 49 times higher than the estimated national overdose averages.

Why was this high overdose rate not analysed in the government-funded evaluation report? There were the three overdose rates I mention that it could have been compared with. The local heroin overdose rates in Kings Cross are one overdose per 3,820 injections compared with one overdose per 106 injections in the centre—a staggering 36 times more overdoses in the so-called safe injecting room than on the streets of Kings Cross. The report could also have used a comparison with drug overdose rates of the clients before they started using the injecting room facilities, and comparisons with Australian national rates. None of these statistics were reported or examined.

Why are there so many overdoses associated with this injecting room? There is a line of thought that clients may be using this facility to safely experiment with high doses of heroin as well as combinations with alcohol, other opiates and benzodiazepines—a lethal mix. I quote from the injecting room's own evaluation:

In this study of the Sydney injecting room there were 9.2 heroin overdoses per 1000 heroin injections in the centre. This rate of overdose is higher than amongst heroin injectors generally. The injecting room clients seem to have been a high-risk group with a higher rate of heroin injections than others not using the injection room facilities. They were more often injecting on the streets and they appear to have taken greater risks and used more heroin whilst in the injecting room.

High doses of injected heroin and more injections in general mean more heroin sold by Kings Cross drug dealers. The injecting room did not, as was promised, improve the local public amenity. It has been a focal point for drug dealers and still is. The reduction in needles and actual injections on the streets of Kings Cross were due to the heroin drought that was experienced recently, and already we are seeing this trend reversed as more heroin hits the black market. Andrew Strauss, the owner of Blinky's Photos, which is next door to the injecting room, has been quoted as saying:

You see drug dealers at the front of the injecting room every day. It hasn't reduced illegal drug taking, it has encouraged it and the police walk up and down the footpath doing nothing.

The centre's evaluation in 2003 indicated that police noted a correlation between loitering and the injecting room's opening times. The centre is 25 metres from being opposite the entrance to the Kings Cross train station on Darlinghurst Road. CityRail workers have given evidence of loitering at the station entrance. There have been public complaints about the drug users, dealers, drunks and homeless individuals hanging around. All in all, this creates an adverse environment for the locals, for the workers and for the travelling public. In 2005 discarded syringes were still rated as one of the top three annoyances for the residents and businesses surveyed in the Kings Cross area.
But let us return to the so-called reasons for the establishment of the injecting room. Regular heroin addicts inject three to six times a day, as heroin is a fast-acting drug that lasts about four hours per shot. Clients average two to three visits per month. One does not have to be a mathematical genius to work out that these addicts leave themselves open to a fatal overdose for the rest of the time they inject. My point is that this injecting room does not provide regular injector safety, due to the pure logistics of there being one site and so many drug users.

For the centre to be maximally effective, addicts would have to travel back and forth all day, and we realise that is totally impractical. All the more reason for these unfortunate individuals to be channelled into properly supervised and operated rehabilitation programs where they can receive counselling and around­the­clock attention. Follow-up in regard to their social, family and workplace needs means the difference between addicts falling back into their vicious cycle of drug use or being encouraged and supported back into mainstream society to live productive and happy lives with healthy relationships and social networks around them.

What is of concern also is the level of multiple drug usage that occurs in this Kings Cross drug injecting room: heroin is 38 per cent of usage; cocaine 21 per cent; methamphetamine, particularly ice and ecstasy, 6 per cent; and cannabis and prescription morphine 31 per cent. The link between cannabis and psychosis is well established: it has been proven that one in ten cases of schizophrenia in the United Kingdom is directly linked to current and/or past cannabis usage. We have seriously underestimated the danger of cannabis use in the past. Cannabis today is more readily available, stronger and cheaper than ever before, which all adds to the dangers in increased and/or prolonged usage.

Laws that permit cannabis cultivation and possession must be reviewed as a matter of urgency. An article recently published in the reputable medical journal The Lancet has shown how cannabis is more harmful than LSD and ecstasy. Australia has the highest ecstasy usage per capita in the world. Ecstasy is the third most common illicit drug used in Australia, with approximately 100,000 tablets used nationally every weekend. Young people aged 20 to 29 are the most common ecstasy users, with one in five having used ecstasy at some time in their life. In the past ecstasy has been imported into Australia from western Europe, but more laboratories are being detected in Australia every day. Ecstasy use causes death, brain damage, Parkinson's disease, psychosis, birth defects and learning and memory problems. Ecstasy users need to be diverted into court ordered and supervised detoxification and rehabilitation to avoid being permanently damaged.

We are told that Australia is experiencing a heroin drought and hence there is a concurrent reduction in heroin deaths. However, the United Nations is warning of heroin production in Afghanistan being at record high levels. The illicit drug deaths in Australia indicate the need for more detoxification and rehabilitation programs to get users free of drugs. When we add the deaths in Australia caused by methadone usage it becomes clear that our current policy of harm minimisation is not working. The Labor Government's failure to invest in drug rehabilitation is putting our children at risk. The report of the Australian National Council on Drugs released last month found that in New South Wales:

treatment options are limited and would not be indicated as treatments that were likely to improve family functioning in multi problem families with parental substance abuse.

Failure to invest in rehabilitation programs that help break the drug-abuse cycle with whole-of-family treatment will continue to have cumulative adverse effects on our younger generation. Reports indicate that children in families where one or both parents use illicit drugs are subject to domestic violence, neglect, abuse, high stress levels, a lack of routine, absence from school and in general a negative social environment. The Australian National Council on Drugs states that more than 230,000 Australian children aged two to 12 years are being raised by adults who abuse alcohol, cannabis or methamphetamines. The council said that worse figures could be expected when the council improves its methods of data collection and includes teenagers and infants in its estimates. The total figure equates to 13 per cent of Australian children, higher than international estimates that 10 per cent of the world's young live in these conditions.

The Australian National Council on Drugs said that less than 50 per cent of addicts sought treatment and programs were so stretched that people would not get sufficient help to kick their habits. As often quoted by the Drug Advisory Council of Australia, the best way to deal with abuse of children is to deal with problems of the parents by using our courts to direct the addictive parent into family friendly detoxification and rehabilitation programs to get them drug free and to give them the social support needed to get their lives back in order. Whatever funding it takes, governments should give these social issues top priority because we are investing in the future of our children, the adults of tomorrow. To break the chain of generational abuse, programs need to include the entire family and address problems faced at home, school and in the workplace.

I congratulate the Federal Government on providing $79.5 million to expand the non-government organisations treatment grants program to ensure more treatment places and services, particularly therapy and detoxification for families struggling with drug addiction. The Federal Government will also provide $23 million to better equip organisations to deliver effective treatment for methamphetamine users and $74 million over four years to improve non-government services for people with alcohol and other drug-related mental illness.

The Drug Summit in 1999 was a good initiative but there has been no follow-through from this Government and those before it with respect to resourcing anti-drugs programs, especially for our younger generation. According to the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, funding for anti-drug initiatives has fallen by 24 per cent. Drug education program spending has fallen in line with the explosion of drug use! The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare report shows that drug prevention activities now make up only 5.2 per cent of the New South Wales public health programs budget, down from 10.2 per cent in 1999-2000. New South Wales spends less than half that spent by most other States on anti-drug activities. The latest figures show that in 2004-05 New South Wales spent just $5.81 per person compared to $7.81 in Victoria, $11.27 in Queensland and $15.81 in the Australian Capital Territory. That is not good enough for families in New South Wales.

Is the heroin injecting room effective when only 11 per cent of people attending are referred for detoxification and drug rehabilitation treatment? In actual fact, of this 11 per cent, only 3.5 per cent of clients were referred to detoxification and only 1 per cent to rehabilitation; the remaining 6.5 per cent were placed on maintenance. None of Sydney's major rehabilitation centres such as Odyssey House, We Help Ourselves or the Salvation Army ever sighted any of these referrals. Salvation Army Recovery Programs Manager, Gerard Byrne, stated that in the five years of the drug injecting room's operation, only five users have been referred to Salvation Army treatment centres. Mr Byrne said that when the centre started they were expecting large numbers of referrals. They thought it would be an opportunity to interface directly with drug users so they could get help, but that has not translated to referrals.

This bill will be the third extension of the so-called trial. Two of these extensions have also followed election wins by Labor in New South Wales. We had been told by Dr van Beek, the medical director of the drug injecting centre, that 2,100 drug overdoses have occurred without death or serious brain injury since its inception. Over the six years 10,000 addicts have used the centre, mostly for heroin. We know that 6 per cent of clients are now using the centre for methamphetamine interjections, including the dangerous drug ice. Are these statistics seen as a success? The addiction has not lessened; it is being satisfied and a lifestyle is being encouraged that could lead to death, physical and mental injury, permanent or otherwise. Why is little attention given by the media and left-wing policy hacks to examining and trialling initiatives that would encourage a return to a drug-free, healthy and successful lifestyle? I guess it is too hard, it is not trendy and it tends to steer towards church-based and non-government based programs. What is the problem? What is the resistance from this New South Wales Labor Government to not equipping these non-government agencies, which have done the job so well, with more resources?

The Drug Advisory Council of Australia, a reputable peak organisation that should be consulted and listened to when dealing with these complex social and medical issues, supports more detoxification and rehabilitation measures that will get illicit drug users drug free. This peak body supports court-ordered and supervised detoxification and rehabilitation programs, fewer illicit drug users and drug deals and consequently fewer drug-related crimes. All illicit drug users suffer physically in many ways. For instance, United Kingdom Metropolitan Police are now using a series of photographs of young women to show the ageing effects of cocaine drug use. In as little as three years of drug use, premature degenerative effects are seen in the damaged faces of young women and it is proving to be effective in reducing drug use. However, we should not forget that cannabis is known to suppress the human immune system and assist in causing cancer, so the risks go beyond merely ageing.

By using our courts to divert illicit drug users into detoxification and rehabilitation, we can help users avoid future health burdens and save community costs. The Government should be encouraged to use similar photo images or at least trial them as part of tailored drug prevention education campaigns to turn teenagers away from future drug use. I am totally opposed to the bill and I believe that the drug injecting room should be closed and funding redirected to the establishment of more beds in rehabilitation centres, which will focus on abstinence from the use of illicit drugs. I believe that the New South Wales Government should follow the lead of the Western Australian Government and significantly fund naltrexone implants for those wishing to be free of addictive drug use, including drug-dependent prisoners. The latter opens up another big issue for debate on another day soon, I hope.

I believe that the New South Wales Government should investigate the Swedish model and its restrictive drug policies. This includes the adoption of a strong anti-street selling program, a replica of the Cabramatta model, which resulted in a significantly lowered overdose rate; and that the New South Wales Government should examine abstinence-based rehabilitation programs, which have shown considerable success, including Australian programs such as those operated by the Salvation Army, DrugBeat from South Australia, as well as international programs such as Hassela from Sweden, San Patrignano from Italy and Daytop International and Phoenix House from the United States of America.

We legislators should send the right message on drug usage. The Coalition's position in the lead-up to the March State election was quite clear: the heroin drug injecting room should be closed. Possession, use, cultivation and trafficking in illicit drugs, including ice, heroin and ecstasy, must remain illegal in New South Wales. The Coalition policy on drug reform concentrated on education for families and others at risk by continuing to support drug education at school, ensuring that it commences before drug use becomes prevalent among peers; engaging parents fully in drug education programs, including access to up-to-date information and resources about how to handle drug education with your children; employing at least 20 additional police to work with young people in our police youth and citizen clubs; and providing $5 million to run an innovative and hard-hitting targeted advertising campaign to reduce falsely labelled recreation drug usage amongst 15 to 29­year-olds.

Treatment of drug users was an important part of the Coalition's policy—namely, to commit $60 million more than the existing Government commitment to boost places in treatment and rehabilitation programs, including $40 million for 10,000 naltrexone treatment places, $10 million for 100 residential treatment places, and $10 million for 20,000 outplacement withdrawal programs, including supporting non­government organisation and abstinence programs such as the Salvation Army's Catherine Booth House, Odyssey House in Surry Hills, the Ted Noffs Foundation, Mission Australia's Triple Care Farm, and We Help Ourselves.

The Coalition also committed to reviewing Labor's take-home methadone policy, particularly for parents with young children, and requires doctors to refer methadone patients for rehabilitation treatment after twelve months if this referral has not occurred previously. These initiatives should be considered by the Government. If it is its intent to help drug users to quit and lead healthy lifestyles, all of these initiatives should be treated seriously. I repeat my opposition to the bill. The heroin injecting room should be closed and the funding should be redirected to the establishment of more beds in rehabilitation centres, which will focus on abstinence from the use of illicit drugs.

The Hon. DAVID CLARKE [10.01 p.m.]: I was opposed to the Kings Cross drug injecting centre when it was first established by the State Labor Government back in 1999. In 2003 I voted against the bill to extend its existence until 2007. And today I oppose the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill 2007, which extends the centre's operations until October 2011. I believe in drug rehabilitation and drug abstinence. I do not believe in drug minimisation. I want to see a drug-free Australia—and we will not get that by passing bills like the one before us. We will get the opposite.

The Kings Cross drug injecting centre has been a failure from day one. Instead of pumping more money into it, we should close it down, and do so without any further delay. It has helped make Kings Cross the drug capital of Australia. It relies on the illegal sale and possession of illegal drugs in order to stay in business. It sends a dangerous message to young people that the use of illegal and dangerous drugs is condoned by the Government and is even acceptable. And it diverts significant funding away from genuine anti-drug programs—programs that have a proven success rate in curing drug addicts of their addiction, programs that rehabilitate addicts, programs that reject the premise that in condoning and legalising drug taking you can in some way assist addicts.

This whole Kings Cross operation is the very opposite of what the State Government should be doing to combat drug addiction. It has in effect legalised the illicit drug industry, and it has turned Kings Cross into a disaster zone; businesses are packing up and leaving in droves. It has become a honey pot where drug dealers descend in droves spruiking their wares of death. In 2001 the United Nations International Narcotic Control Board said in its report:

The operation of such facilities, where addicts inject themselves with illicit substances, condones illicit drug use and drug trafficking and runs counter to the provisions of the international drug treaties.

The opposition of the United Nations to such facilities is, no doubt, why this Government still refers, even after eight years of operation, to it as "a trial", because it is a means to evade undertakings we have committed ourselves to under international covenants that oppose such facilities. The truth is that the great majority of nations have rejected the concept of drug injecting facilities and the false arguments that are used to justify their existence.

In one of the few countries to allow such facilities, Canada, drug injecting rooms in the city of Vancouver have been a massive failure according to the highly respected Royal Canadian Mounted Police. From their experience, they have found that the existence of injecting rooms decreased the perceived risks of illicit drug use and that those who use the drug injecting rooms are not being diverted into the rehabilitation programs that such centres are supposed to encourage. Earlier this year the Drug Advisory Council of Australia noted that:

A further myth about injecting rooms is that they divert illicit drug users into rehabilitation to get them free of their addiction.

How true this has proved to be with the Kings Cross injecting centre, with only 1 per cent of its clients being referred to rehabilitation and with the number who actually presented for rehabilitation being significantly less than even that paltry 1 per cent. Some of the most effective drug rehabilitation programs, such as those operated by Odyssey House and the Salvation Army, have never had even one person present themselves for rehabilitation pursuant to a referral from the Kings Cross injecting centre. The Drug Advisory Council of Australia also observed that:

Injecting rooms facilitate drug use and maintain users in their addiction.

And:

An illicit drug injecting room fuels demand for illicit drugs and channels money into the hands of drug criminals.

The main argument touted by those who support the Kings Cross operation is that it saves lives, namely the lives of the addicts who, had they not had the availability of medical supervision when they overdosed at the centre, would now be dead. Without going into the detail of the myriad statistics quoted to support this proposition, I point out that Drug Free Australia—a peak body of 87 community organisations—has done an exhaustive and detailed analysis of all the available statistics and has come to the conclusion that the number of lives claim to be saved is highly dubious at best. It is of the view that had the resources that have been pumped into the Kings Cross injecting centre over the past few years been used to support drug rehabilitation programs operated by institutions like the Salvation Army, Hillsong and Odyssey House—programs that have a proven record of rehabilitating addicts and saving lives—the number of lives saved would have been far greater than that claimed to have been saved by the Kings Cross injecting rooms.

I believe that organisations like Drug Free Australia and the Drug Advisory Council of Australia have got it right and that the State Government has got it wrong. The Kings Cross injecting centre is a failure, it is a waste of resources, it has cost lives because of its misplaced use of resources, and it sends the wrong message to young people. That is why the United Nations opposes injecting rooms. That is why the Federal Government is opposed to them. That is why all the other States of Australia are opposed to them. And that is why the great majority of nations are opposed to them as well. I oppose this bill and will vote against it, and I take great pride in being part of a parliamentary Liberal-Nationals Coalition because, when its members have been given a conscience vote, the great majority of them have chosen to oppose and vote against the bill as well.

The Hon. AMANDA FAZIO [10.08 p.m.]: I support the legislation. Indeed, I think it is very important. In order to see why the legislation and the injecting centre are so important, we need to cut through some of the highly charged emotional rhetoric that is trotted out whenever we discuss this matter, and look at the facts surrounding the drug injecting room. The first question we must ask ourselves is: What is the target for this scheme? With whom are we dealing through the drug injecting room? Independent evaluation reports by the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research have shown that the centre has been successful in reaching its target group of long-term drug users, public injectors, homeless injecting drug users, and those engaged in sex work. These people are frequently marginalised and face significant social disadvantage. This group is at the highest risk of drug-related death and morbidity, and it is often unwilling to consider drug treatment during initial visits.

Offering heroin addicts a place in a drug rehabilitation scheme will only work if they have reached a point in their lives where they want to be rehabilitated. If they have not reached that point or desire to remain a user of that illicit drug, we should not as a society turn our backs on them. We should try to provide a safe environment for them to use their drugs where they have regular contact with professionals who may, over a longer term, be able to persuade those people to re-evaluate their lifestyle and try to do something about their drug addiction. It is not going to happen on a one-off basis when people visit the injection room, but we have to look at who is going there.

It might surprise some members of this Chamber and some opponents of the drug injecting room to know that there are long-term heroin addicts for whom the financial side of being a heroin addict does not preclude their regular use of the drug. They have homes and jobs, and regularly would not confront the other health problems that in the main confront the target group for the drug injecting room. To all intents and purposes they function as normal members of society. We are talking about the most disadvantaged people who are using heroin. They are the targets of this scheme and we should not lose sight of that.

The independent evaluation has shown that, in the main, clients of the centre have long-term injecting habits and have failed treatment or have never been in contact with the health system. They are people who inject in public places, and that brings with it a whole range of different problems. The water they use when they are cooking up can come from a puddle or from a tap and it might not necessarily be clean. There is the problem of them being seen in public, and members of the public do not like to see people shooting up or sitting in the gutter. There is a problem if they overdose in back lanes. Who is going to find them? Will they be found in time? There is also the problem of whether they will be using clean needles. If somebody in that situation tries to turn their lives around later it is no good, if by the nature of their drug use they have become infected with HIV or hepatitis B or hepatitis C. It is not going to do them any good to turn their life around when they have another major health problem layered on top of that. That is the sort of issue that a lot of people opposed to the injecting room simply ignore because they choose to ignore some of the positive benefits that this program has for people.

The evaluators have found that the average client of the centre is a 33-year-old male who began injecting at 19 years of age and has been injecting heroin for an average of 14 years—not social skin poppers but people with a long-term problem. The evaluation reports have shown that 72 per cent are not accessing local primary health care services; 60 per cent have attempted drug treatment previously but have not given up drugs; 61 per cent are on social security payments; 49 per cent have injected in a public place; and considering the health epidemic confronting us, 42 per cent are hepatitis C positive—imagine if they were not using clean needles all the time or if they were discarding those needles in public places where somebody else could be contaminated by a needle stick injury; 35 per cent of them have overdosed one or more times; only 27 per cent have completed high school; 24 per cent are in unstable accommodation; and 23 per cent have been imprisoned in the previous 12 months. They are not exactly high achievers in life and are people who should be given a helping hand.

The myth is, according to what one hears and according to some of the contributions made tonight, that just about anybody can use the centre, and can use it not only for heroin but for ecstasy—which most people would not shoot up anyway. Somehow cannabis has been thrown into the debate. Quite frankly, you cannot shoot up cannabis in the Kings Cross injecting room and if you try to smoke cannabis in the Kings Cross injecting room you would be thrown out. So, trying to raise the issue of cannabis and all of the health reports about co-morbidity between people with mental health problems and cannabis use is just a smokescreen. It is a red herring and has nothing to do with the debate about the operations of the Kings Cross injecting centre.

Who can use the centre? People under 18 years of age, women who are or appear to be pregnant and people who are accompanied by children are excluded from using the centre due to health and social welfare concerns. The internal management protocols for the centre establish detailed procedures for referring those individuals to appropriate services and require staff to notify the Department of Community Services of young persons under 16 who are considered to be at risk in accordance with the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998. In addition, the centre will not admit a client who appears to be intoxicated by alcohol or other drugs, due to the increased risk of drug overdose. These clients are discouraged from further drug and alcohol use at this time and are encouraged to consider drug detoxification or other treatment options.
Let us look at the issue that the centre is somehow a honey pot. The New South Wales Government closely monitors any changes in drug use trends within the centre. Over the past six years the primary drugs injected at the centre have been 62 per cent heroin, 14 per cent cocaine and 12 per cent prescription opioids. The use of amphetamines and methamphetamine by the centre's clients has slowly increased from 3 per cent in mid­2002 to 7 per cent in early 2007. Arguably this reflects increased use in the community and may also be due to a reduction in heroin availability. However, the rate remains low compared to other drugs use, with the trend to being relatively stable. It does not matter if you are using a syringe to inject heroin, cocaine, prescription opioids, amphetamines or methamphetamines. All those issues in relation to contracting aids, hepatitis B or hepatitis C still apply, no matter what you are injecting. There is also the contamination of what you are injecting, the risk of suffering an overdose still remains the same regardless of what drug is being injected but, as I have said, the majority, 62 per cent, are heroin users.

I want to look at some of the other issues raised by honourable members in this debate. Particularly, I was quite surprised to hear reference made to what was said to be the policy of the United Kingdom metropolitan police when looking at drug users. In March this year the Association of Senior Police Officers of the United Kingdom called for the decriminalisation of heroin and said it supports addicts being given heroin on prescription. It had a whole range of reasons for doing that. It was a package of crime reduction, health concerns and a whole range of other issues. These are the police who, on a daily basis, believed that rather than spending a huge amount of social, policing and legal resources in tracking down and trying to contain the heroin problem in the United Kingdom, it would be better for addicts to get their heroin on prescription, which is to be the case, and there are still some old registered addicts.

The centre is not a honey pot for ice. It is not a honey pot necessarily for heroin. People sell drugs in King's Cross and they have done it for donkey's years, long before the heroin injecting centre was open. If you look at the target group of long-term drug users, public injectors, homeless injecting drug users and those engaged in sex work, there is no surprise that you find a large number of those people in King's Cross. I cannot think of a better place to have the heroin injecting centre than in King's Cross. Where a large number of people sell drugs, a lot of people use drugs; where a lot of people use drugs, sellers will go. So, it is a catch 22. You cannot blame the injecting centre for that.

Much has been made about the policies of the International Narcotics Control Board. The policy of that board is almost completely driven by the drug policies of the United States of America. It is pushing it and promoting it. Let us look at what the United States has done in more recent years about the problem with heroin. Its failure, after invading Afghanistan and not having long-term policies to suppress the poppy crops in Afghanistan, has led to Afghanistan suppling 85 per cent of the very cheap heroin that is flooding the United States market, and that is one of the reasons why that body of senior police officers said it had a change of view. So, until the International Narcotics Control Board comes up with some firm policies and until its backers in the United States do something about suppressing the poppy crops in Afghanistan, we should take some of its pronouncements as being pretty useless and not realistic in the longer term.

We should all say "No." Everyone should be drug free, everyone should be referred to rehabilitation and everyone should have a happy outcome. Nancy Reagan said, "Just say 'no' to drugs" in the 1980s. It did not work then. It should have been called the campaign to "Just say 'no' to a sensible drug policy" or "Just stick your head in the sand." It does not work. A huge number of underlying problems cause people to be so unhappy in life and so dissatisfied that they look for some release and they want to use drugs, like heroin. If we were being fair dinkum and we looked at the family backgrounds and life experiences of a lot of people who are in the target group for the centre, we would realise that "Just say 'no'" is about as good as saying "Have a nice day" to them. It is unrealistic and it does not work. But the bottom line is that we have to look at what it costs. Since 1999 the New South Wales Government has spent $406 million on dedicated drug and alcohol programs, a small part of which is spent on the heroin injecting centre in Kings Cross. What price do we put on human life? What price do we put on the lives of the people whom I have described as being the target group of the heroin injecting room?

Sometimes those who complain about how much the injecting room costs and how we spend that money think it depends on whose life it is. We should support the legislation. The life saved of someone who has overdosed and been revived in the injecting room is the life of one person who, if circumstances and their will allow, will perhaps have a chance at a later time in life to redeem his or her position. But shooting up on the streets, running the risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, or dying in a back alley with a needle sticking out of an arm does not give a person that second chance in life. It is really saying, "You are such a loser that we really don't want to waste any more money on you." Rehabilitation is fine, if that is what people want. But we have not yet got to the stage of dragging people off the streets if they have not committed a criminal offence and locking them up in a rehabilitation centre until they have been permanently detoxed. I certainly hope that we do not reach that stage and that we continue to respect people's civil liberties and their right to choose what they do with their lives. The injecting room is serving a useful purpose: It saves lives. As long as it is saving lives we should support the legislation.

Ms LEE RHIANNON [10.22 p.m.]: The Greens are pleased to support the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill 2007. I congratulate the New South Wales Government on its continued support for the Kings Cross Medically Supervised Injecting Centre. However, it is a shame that the bill is not for the conclusion of the trial stage and, instead, for the establishment of a permanent facility at Kings Cross. We should make the Kings Cross facility permanent and expand these services to other areas of need. This could be the longest ongoing trial in history for what is patently a successful service. It seems obvious that the centre has well and truly proven its worth. This is borne out in evaluations conducted by the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research and by the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

The National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research found that almost 10,000 people have registered with the Kings Cross injecting centre since 2001. That is a success figure. The centre has prevented more than 191,000 public injections, made more than 6,000 referrals for medical consultation, drug treatment and social welfare assistance, and helped reduce local needle syringe collections in public places by 50 per cent. The report shows that overdoses are being treated more quickly and effectively and that, in turn, has decreased the demand on emergency medical services and ambulances in the area. Over its lifetime the centre has managed more than 2,100 overdoses that may otherwise have lead to death or serious harm. An independent evaluator has found that there is high and sustained support from the majority of local business operators—around 68 per cent.

The centre has been successful in removing injections, drug overdoses and syringes from public places. It has reduced the risk of morbidity and mortality associated with drug overdoses and transmission of blood­borne infections. Importantly, it has also provided a space for drug users to have contact with health professionals and, in turn, the social welfare system if necessary. I have visited the Kings Cross safe injecting room, and I was extremely impressed by the dedication of its staff, and the professional and dignified approach of the centre to its clients. The allegations of Mr David Clarke that the centre promotes drug taking are ridiculous. The criticism was not evidence based, but a biased attack designed to back up the discredited war on drugs policy. I understand that the centre now handles more than 200 visits a day; that is 200 visitors who may otherwise be forced to inject, unsupervised and unsafe, in inner-city backstreets. The centre has been successful in removing injections, drug overdoses and syringes from public places. It has reduced the risk of morbidity and mortality associated with drug overdoses and transmission of blood­borne infections. Importantly, it has also provided a space for drug users to have contact with health professionals and, in turn, the social welfare system if necessary. I have visited the Kings Cross safe injecting room, and I was extremely impressed by the dedication of its staff, and the professional and dignified approach of the centre to its clients. The allegations of Mr David Clarke that the centre promotes drug taking are ridiculous. The criticism was not evidence based, but a biased attack designed to back up the discredited war on drugs policy. I understand that the centre now handles more than 200 visits a day; that is 200 visitors who may otherwise be forced to inject, unsupervised and unsafe, in inner-city backstreets.

I put on record my concerns about the new licence conditions that the bill imposes on the centre. The bill requires that the centre maintain an average of 208 client visits per day over a one-month period. Is this really necessary? That question has not been answered, but the Minister should give us a response in reply. The licence conditions seem to put unnecessary pressure on what is already an overstretched service. The bill also imposes an obligation on the Commissioner of Police and the Director General of NSW Health to review the economic viability and ongoing need for the centre if service levels drop below 75 per cent of the required 208 visits per day. If this happens and it is found that the centre is no longer economically viable, the bill requires that the licence of the centre be revoked.

Is economic viability really the basis upon which the Government will judge whether health services will remain open? Obviously, it would be difficult to justify keeping open a centre that had only a handful of participants. But even if service levels at the Kings Cross injecting centre dropped by 75 per cent the centre would still handle upwards of 150 people a day. That is a huge achievement and a contribution to the community. I urge members who are speaking so strongly against the bill to consider that the work of the safe injecting room is a contribution to our whole community and of benefit to all of us. The real question is: Why is the Kings Cross injecting room being singled out amongst other health services and subject to these onerous conditions? Clearly, all health services have to show a basic level of utilisation, but why is this service the only one in the State, potentially in the country, that has this licence condition written into legislation?

We hear the arguments that safe injecting rooms send the wrong message to people. On the contrary, I believe that safe injecting rooms send the right message: we are a caring and compassionate society and we are a society that offers support, care and treatment to those suffering from drug-related problems and to their families. What sends the wrong message is heavy-handed policing that damages public health, community safety and relations between the police and members of our community. Tony Newman, Director of the Drugs Policy Alliance in Canada, recently commented on the worth of the tough-on-drugs approach of the United States. I urge members who heard Mr David Clarke quote from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to consider these comments from an expert in the field:

For 30-plus years, the US has pushed a war on drugs that is more accurately a war on drug users. This war on drugs has not delivered on its promise to keep drugs off our streets or prevent people from using, but it has filled our prisons beyond capacity and led to far too many cases of HIV/AIDS relating to sharing contaminated needles.

His comment about filling prisons could well apply to New South Wales. We have the interesting situation in New South Wales where the public face of the Labor Government is very much "Lock 'em up and keep 'em there". But beyond the scenes Labor has established a number of harm-minimisation programs on which it should be congratulated, of which it should be proud and about which it should speak more frequently in public. The Drug Court is a good example, as is the Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment Program. It is a shame that the Labor Government chooses to sweep such programs under the carpet and, too often, criticises the Greens in the media for our harm minimisation approach when it suits their political agenda.

I remember the Drug Summit well. As a newly elected member of Parliament I felt privileged and excited to be part of a rich and diverse discussion with drug users, families of drug users, police, researchers, parliamentarians and government officials all together at the same table. I believe we made headway at the summit. The Kings Cross Injecting Centre is a great example of a project that came out of the Drug Summit. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go and too many recommendations that came out of the summit are collecting dust on bookshelves rather than being put into practice. Last week I was fortunate to visit the St Vincent's Drug and Alcohol Centre. I was extremely impressed by Dr Wodak and his hardworking staff and the programs they offer at the centre, which sees over 300 people per week—an amazing feat for a small centre with few resources. When I was there probably 30 people were crammed into the waiting room. Unfortunately, the centre simply does not have the capacity to meet demand. People who want to get off heroin and reclaim their lives cannot get into the clinic because of inadequate funding. It is disappointing, to say the least.

The Greens are pleased to support the bill and we urge the Labor Government to put more resources into harm minimisation programs. I acknowledge some of the courageous people and organisations that were integral in laying the groundwork for the centre and keeping it running, in particular, the Wayside Chapel, UnitingCare, the AIDS Council of New South Wales and NSW Users and AIDS Association, Reverend Ray Richmond, Reverend Harry Herbert, Dr Alex Wodak, Ms Ann Symonds—a former member of this House—Mr Tony Trimingham, Dr Ingrid van Beek and many others. We need to thank courageous people, and we must remember their hard work and make sure we continue the fight.

Reverend the Hon. Dr GORDON MOYES [10.31 p.m.]: The purpose of the bill is to continue the trial of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre for another four years, until 30 June 2011. The Christian Democratic Party has always strongly opposed the Kings Cross injecting room. We opposed its establishment in 2001 and we remain opposed to it. Our opposition is based upon one fundamental principle: harm reduction is far better than harm minimisation. There is no such thing as a safe level of drug use. Drug addiction can be stopped only through preventative measures, such as detoxification, treatment and rehabilitation. This facility does not help drug users kick their habits. It simply provides a legal rubber stamp for users to continue their deadly habits. If this disgraceful bill is passed and the room remains open until 2011, it will have been operating for 10 years. Ten years is not a trial; it is government-supported drug institutionalism.

The International Narcotics Board specifically stated that the Kings Cross injecting room breaches the international conventions against illicit drug use. Currently 8 per cent of injections in the room are for ice. We all know the impact of that drug. On the one hand, the New South Wales Government spends millions of dollars fighting the spread of drugs in the community. On the other hand, the Government says that people can use drugs so long as they do it in "our place". The drugs consumed at the centre are illegal. They are illegal in the community. They are illegal at my house and they are illegal at your house. The guise of extending a trial will not save the Government from being accused of acting outside the law. Public funding of at least $2.5 million per year is being wasted on committed drug addicts who have no intention of quitting. The Hon. Amanda Fazio admitted that fact in her speech. Why are New South Wales taxpayers encouraging the habit of these drug users when others who want to quit cannot access facilities? Ms Lee Rhiannon referred to the crowds of people wanting help. The funding for the centre could pay for 109 drug rehabilitation beds or 700 naltrexone implants for heroin users for one year. New South Wales can use the funds much better elsewhere. In a State where the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has to stop prosecuting child sex abusers to save $4 million, we can still find $2.5 million to provide facilities so that people can continue to abuse themselves.
What have been the so-called benefits of the injecting room to date? Newspapers report that 1,700 overdoses have occurred on the premises without one fatality. So the New South Wales Government has supported 1,700 episodes where people willingly put themselves close to death. How is that a success? This centre, which receives $2.5 million in funding per year, resulted in zero occasions when a person walked away from drugs. It resulted in zero occasions when anyone became free from drugs or was rehabilitated from drugs. Unfortunately, two other countries followed New South Wales in setting up injecting facilities—the United Kingdom and the INSITE Program in Canada. In the current issue of the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice , Dr Colin Mangham, who is one of Canada's foremost leaders into theory and practice of drug prevention, draws out the problems and failings of injecting facilities. His article analyses the assessments that are done in these types of injecting rooms, and Dr Mangham concludes that a bias exists to retain these facilities, backed by the philosophy of harm reduction. Policy pundits and the media lent their support without fully considering harm reduction. The article states that evaluations of these injecting rooms include:

… considerable overstating of findings as well as underreporting or omission of negative findings, and in some cases the discussion can mislead readers. The reports show no impact on the key issues that would most warrant its existence … getting clients into treatment and off of drugs, reducing overdose deaths.

New South Wales shows a similar bias. The so-called independent evaluation of the injecting room, which was released in July 2003, was put together by five researchers. It is interesting to note who those five researchers were. Three were colleagues of the injecting room's Medical Director at the University of New South Wales medical faculty and a fourth shaped the proposed injecting room trial at the New South Wales Drug Summit in 1999. I question the independence of the evaluation. It is like getting five alcoholics to report on the impact of alcohol abuse. Earlier this year Drug Free Australia released a report on the so-called merits of the centre. Over 1,700 overdoses that did not result in one death may sound good, but not one user went off drug use or overcame drug addiction. On the information provided, we could conclude that 1,700 lives were saved. But not so fast! An overdose is not always fatal. Earlier this evening the Hon. Marie Ficarra spoke movingly, with insight and in detail about this issue. The Government estimated that the injecting room saved four lives per year. However, that does not account for the enormously increased overdose rate. When this is factored in, the injecting room may claim to have saved 0.18 lives in its 18 months evaluation period. When the figures are annualised, on average the centre saved one person every eight years.

According to the final report on the evaluation of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, 1 per cent of dependent heroin users die each year from heroin overdose and they inject at least three times per day. The injecting room would have had to host 300 heroin injections per day before it could claim to have saved even one life per year. The room currently hosts 87 heroin injections per day. At this rate, this method of treatment may save one life every 3.5 years. Judged on its results, the centre would be closed down. The injecting room was set up to handle 330 injections per day. But the room's own figures show an average of 208 clients per day, which is only 63 per cent of its proposed capacity. The New South Wales Government has already wasted a third of its investment. This bill seeks to keep the injecting room open till levels drop to 75 per cent of current levels. That is only 156 clients per day—less than half the level the room was designed for. The supporters of this room know that community support for and use of the centre are dropping and are seeking to keep it open as long as possible.

At school, an effort rated at below 50 per cent is marked "fail", but with the New South Wales Government it means an extra four years! It does not mention that the overdose rate in the room is 36 times higher than that on the streets of Kings Cross, at least 40 times higher than the client's average before they entered the injecting, and 49 times higher than estimated national overdose averages. According to their own registration data, before the room opened clients were overdosing only once every 3,200 injections. The rate of opiate overdose inside the room now is one in every 129 injections. This begs the question: Why so many overdoses in the injecting room? The injecting room's own evaluation stated:

In this study of the Sydney [injecting room] there were 9.2 heroin overdoses per 1,000 heroin injections in the MSIC, and this rate of overdose is likely to be higher than among heroin injectors generally. The [injecting room] clients seem to have been a high-risk group with a higher rate of heroin injections than heroin injectors who did not use the [injecting facility], they were often injecting on the streets, and they may have taken more risks and used more heroin in the MSIC.

I repeat that—"they may have taken more risks and used more heroin in the MSIC", according to the centre's own report What really concerns me is that there have been no referrals over the last period of investigation. The Salvation Army had a total of five referrals in five years. Wesley Mission Drug Arm, which is filled to capacity every week with people seeking rehabilitation, has never had a referral from the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre . Gary Christian from Drug Free Australia was able to interview two former clients of the injecting room who confirmed this view. I will read a brief transcript of a recorded conversation that Gary Christian had with two former clients of the room.

DFA: Have you been a client of the injecting room?

Ex-client: I have, I have. To me I believe it has got a lot to do with the pills, people using pills in injecting rooms. They shouldn't be allowed to inject pills in my opinion.

DFA: Our understanding was that they weren't allowed to be polydrug [using], you know, mixing … drugs [and pills].

Ex-client: Yeah, but they don't know that, do you know what I mean? Like they go in there, and they start using, I have seen that they are going in for one thing but really they are going in for two [or three], with the heroin on top of the pills, but they won't … [tell anybody that].

DFA: And the kinds of pills, I mean, benzodiazepenes we know are very dangerous when it comes to mixing with heroin and overdose. They are an extremely dangerous mix.

Ex-client: Extremely.

DFA: What other kind of pills are you talking about?

Ex-client: I was talking about Normasins, Oxycodones, just yeah all that kind of stuff. Xanax. Everyone I have seen drop in there, like one every now and again will drop on heroin, but it is the pills and the heroin [that they mix] together.

DFA: That's very revealing. There is something that has been going on in the injecting room, but we just haven't been able to work out why there are such high overdoses. And we've imagined that it must be experimentation … Is it the case that people would be experimenting with drugs in a way they wouldn't … [out] on the street?

Ex-client: They feel a lot more safer, definitely because they know they can be brought back to life straight away. They know … they can, like some people go to the extent of using even more. So in a way they feel it is a comfort zone, and no matter how much they use if they drop [meaning, die] they … [might] be brought back. What users look for in heroin and pills is to get the most completely out of it as they can, like virtually be asleep … For … [example] to get that you have to test your limits. And by testing your limits that is how you end up dropping [dead].

DFA: This does put some question marks on how the injecting room is being used and how lax they are, if they are being lax and allowing people to experiment.

Ex-client: Really people are sneaking behind their backs. They [don't know what is going on in there. They don't] … do it in front of them, but they're sneaking … they're criminals. You can hide anything from everybody. If you are doing it every day, night and day, you are only going in there for 10 minutes and you can just put yourself in front of your needle, something there so you can mix them up and then you can mix it up again, and they don't know you are mixing up again something different if you are just mixing up pills or mixing up heroin, they are just standing behind you and you're covering or you get the guy beside you to mix up something and [they look at him and] you can get kicked out for it—I've seen people get kicked out for passing things over, but they try and stop it, it is not the workers [fault] … they try their best, it is just [that we] are [all] sneaky people …

A second former client was questioned by Drug Free Australia. I will not read the transcript of the questioning in full. He revealed that the safety of the room allows clients to use much higher doses of heroin, which he did, and that clients are using the safety of the room to get the biggest rush they can, even if there is the risk of overdose.

Consequently, far from combating the problem and helping these people to stop harming themselves, the injecting facility has actually encouraged them to try harder, to try wilder mixes of drugs, and to push themselves right to the point of death. For six years the New South Wales Government has funded a drug experimentation laboratory where users can push their boundaries and where they have medical help immediately on hand from a nursing sister if they go too far. We are now extending that so-called trial for another four years.

The final evaluation of the Sydney injecting room was released in mid-2007. The spin doctors have communicated success without the full facts being conveyed or maybe even closely considered. The injecting room cannot save lives when it encourages addiction. The addictions have not gone; if anything, they have increased. The voices of addiction are still calling and the likelihood of emotional and physical death is still very high. If a person does not quit, the injecting room at best can only delay the inevitable. The person is not likely to quit while the New South Wales Government is telling them it is okay to continue.

As the Hon. Amanda Fazio said, those who go to the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre are the most drug-dependent and most needy of people—people who are the most vulnerable. Because the centre has no program of treatment or referral for rehabilitation, they are totally dispensable. No-one cares as they decline into death. Some asked: What price do we put on a drug abuser's life? Our concern is the total elimination of death and their successful rehabilitation to life. Ms Lee Rhiannon says that we should care for the users of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre so that they can use the centre to inject themselves. That kind of care is as useful as the care of a florist at the crematorium. I oppose the bill in the strongest terms.

Mr IAN COHEN [10.47 p.m.]: I support the comments made earlier by Ms Lee Rhiannon, who led for the Greens on this bill. I state at the outset that I support this bill and the Government's initiative on this matter. I listened with interest to a number of comments made by other members in this debate. Some of the accusations made about misinformation and spin really were just a case of more and more spin, and that disturbs me greatly. However, it is not unexpected, given the extent of some of hypocrisy in this debate. At the outset I give thanks and recognition to Reverend Harry Herbert, who is a member of the Uniting Church and is the Executive Director of Uniting Care. Reverend Herbert is also the licensed operator of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre , which is operated on a yearly budget of $2.5 million. Reverend Herbert has stated:

The board feels as strongly now as it did back in 1999 when the original decision was taken. It is serving a very important social purpose and it is appropriate for a church body to be involved.

I am really heartened by the involvement of people such as Reverend Harry Herbert and Reverend Ray Richmond, whom I have met and with whom I have had a very productive association in regard to this and other matters. They are deeply involved and are working with The Wayside Chapel. They strongly support the institution and continuation of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre. They are caring, true Christians. They are brave; they stepped forward when the vehement, narrow-minded opposition, some of which we have heard tonight in this House, was baying at them. They stood firm and supported—

Reverend the Hon. Dr Gordon Moyes: And neither of them runs any rehabilitation programs.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Reverend the Hon. Dr Gordon Moyes will cease interjecting.

Mr IAN COHEN: Let him interject. I understand why the injecting centre would not send people in such a weak and vulnerable state to the organisations for which some members have said they are responsible. I will deal with that later. The members who oppose this centre do not recognise the different levels of addiction and the levels of despair that people are living in and that they cannot escape their cycle of addiction. I was on the original safe injecting room inquiry and I was happy to be one of those who helped it along in a small way. I acknowledge the great contribution of Ann Symonds, a former member of this House, who drove the reform that in part led to the Drug Summit and to the Carr Government taking positive steps. The vital issue that is missed in this debate is that the levels and types of addiction and the reactions of addicts are as intricate and complex as human personality itself.

No one system or remedy will solve the problem. We have seen the naltrexone magic bullet, naltrexone deep-sleep therapy and other radical approaches. In some cases they work, but in many cases they do not. In many cases methadone is of great assistance and in a significant number of cases abstinence and churches have a role to play for people who are at their most vulnerable. In other cases, all of these methods fail. It is important to keep these drug addicts alive until they turn their lives around and voluntarily see their way out. It is extremely difficult for people who have not been addicted to these sorts of substances to understand the hell that addicts go through. If we can keep them alive and in reasonable health for long enough for them to see their own way out, that it is a good thing. A Sydney Morning Herald article entitled "1,700 overdoses that didn't end in death", dated 8 July 2006, referred to an addict named Sally. The article stated:

"If they close the centre it is going to go back to how it was—the mess in the street, the overdoses in the street, the death in the street will be a recurring nightmare," says Sally, who fought and beat a 17-year heroin habit.

One of the first drug users to register when the centre opened on May 6, 2001, she gradually moved from heroin to methadone, and from the streets to public housing.

In August she celebrates three years off methadone, and four years of sleeping indoors.

With assistance from staff at the injecting centre, Sally gathered the strength to move away from drugs when she discovered that her partner of eight years had cancer.

It took something like that for a long-term heroin addict to be shocked into another reality that gave her the strength to change her life. She said:

It didn't matter how many times I had overdosed and been brought back, it wasn't until I was confronted with my boyfriend's mortality that it made some sense to get straight.
She was kept alive and in a healthy condition by the injecting centre until she could take her own steps towards rehabilitation. The article continues:

A long-time Kings Cross resident, Margaret Harvie, said the centre had made a huge difference to those who live and work in the area.

"The injecting centre has significantly improved things—you do not have people overdosing, there are not ambulances screaming around the streets."

Ms Harvie dismissed the idea that the centre is a honeypot for dealers and users.

People have been hanging around Kings Cross for years, she says, attracted by the nightclubs and the prostitution rather than the injecting centre.

The purpose of this bill is to continue the trial of the Medically Supervised Injection Centre for another four years until 30 June 2011. The Greens support the bill, and I certainly support it. The trial centre has been operating at 66 Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross, since May 2001. It was established in response to recommendations made by the New South Wales Drug Summit in 1999. The centre has been operating successfully for six years. Lee Rhiannon, who led for the Greens in this debate, has already covered many aspects of this issue, but I would like to add some comments. The centre has come under increasing fire from a group called Drug Free Australia.

The Hon. Christine Robertson: What does it mean?

Mr IAN COHEN: I have an interpretation, and I will come to that in a minute. Members have probably received glossy brochures that the group has put together. The book entitled The Kings Cross Injecting Room: a case for closure , written by Gary Christian of Drug Free Australia, confines itself to analysis of the centre's first 18-month evaluation period, which ended in October 2002. Over the past four years the centre and a range of respected health professionals working in the addiction medicine field have pointed out the errors in Gary Christian's various calculations and extrapolations based on this initial evaluation period. It is disappointing to learn that Mr Christian has been unwilling to accept any of this expert advice or integrate any of the new information as it has come to hand. Instead, he has continued to convey misinformation to political decision makers at this crucial time.

Evidence provided in the following reports prepared by the independent evaluation team pertains to the entire six-year evaluation period. I urge members to read these reports and inform themselves rather than rely on the word of Drug Free Australia: "Interim Evaluation Report No 1: Operation and Service Delivery (November 2002 to December May 2004)", May 2005; "Interim Evaluation Report No 2: Evaluation of Community Attitudes Towards the Sydney MSIC", March 2006; "Interim Evaluation Report No 3: Evaluation of Client Referral and Health Issues", March 2007; "Interim Evaluation Report No 4: Evaluation of Service Operation and Overdose-related Events", June 2007; and "Crime and Justice Bulletin No 105: Recent Trends in Property and Drug-related Crime in Kings Cross", November 2006.

I will go through the centre's arguments, addressing the six key points presented by Drug Free Australia in the order that they appeared in its covering letter to members. First, the centre points out that heroin injections comprise only 26 per cent of its total injecting capacity. A range of drugs has been injected during the 391,027 visits that injecting drug users have made to the centre over the six years to the end of April 2007. Of them, 62 per cent were to inject heroin, 12 per cent other opioids, 14 per cent cocaine, 6 per cent methamphetamines and 3 per cent benzodiazepines. Over the past year about 75 per cent to 80 per cent of all centre visits have been to inject heroin and other drugs in this opioid class of drugs, and about 350 opioid-related overdose cases were successfully treated. That is 350 lives saved. Members might say that those people experimented in the safety of the injecting room. The fact is that 350 opioid-related overdose cases were successfully treated. Surely that speaks for itself.

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: That is if it is correct.

Mr IAN COHEN: I stand by these figures. They come from reputable sources.

The Hon. Charlie Lynn: Who?

Mr IAN COHEN: They come from those who have been oversighting the injection centre and I stand by them, and I am sure the Government will support them. Those who condemn the injecting centre offer mealy-mouthed platitudes and use rubbery figures. Prove them! I ask Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile to prove his figures. The Medically Supervised Injecting Centre further argued that the proportions of the respective drugs injected at the centre have fluctuated widely during this time, and reflect their relative price and availability in the Kings Cross area over time. The centre's ability to monitor this on a day-by-day basis also provides a timely and sensitive early warning system. This information is provided to local police and other health services, NSW Health and national surveillance systems on a regular basis. The article in the Sydney Morning Herald of July 2006 to which I referred earlier states:

"There is no evidence the centre is contributing to crime in the area, or has attracted more drug dealers", said Mark Murdoch, the Kings Cross Local Area Commander for the police.

"There is nothing to indicate that the centre is anything but good for the area".

"Police support Government initiatives such as the [injecting centre] and police are there to enforce the law, which is evidenced by Kings Cross Local Area Command attaining the highest rates of drug detections in the state.

Yet at the same time they support the injecting centre. The centre further argues that like the other 76 supervised injection facilities currently operating in eight countries since 1986, the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre was established to prevent and reduce injecting-related harm associated with all injectable drugs, not just heroin, while also recognising that injecting drug users almost never inject only heroin. Injecting is a way of using drugs and significantly increases the risk of overdose, dependence and blood-borne infections including HIV and hepatitis B and hepatitis C, regardless of the drug being used. All risks are amplified when drugs are injected in public situations, which supervised injecting facilities specifically target.

The second key point presented by Drug Free Australia is that experimentation with dangerous drugs dominates its statistics. The Medically Supervised Injecting Centre relocates injecting episodes that would otherwise occur in unsupervised, less safe, often public circumstances in the local environs of Kings Cross to its clinical premises staffed by health professionals. There is no evidence that attending the centre influences the amount or type of drug injected there by injecting drug users. Staff observations verify that the amounts injected at the centre are standard quantities. A recent anonymous survey among checked-in drug users attending the centre also confirmed that.

Furthermore, intoxication is one of the exclusion criteria of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre. All injecting drug users who present to inject at the centre are assessed by staff for signs and symptoms of intoxication. That includes breathalysing those who are potentially alcohol affected, thereby preventing hazardous drug use at the facility. Those assessed to be intoxicated are advised about the dangers of injecting elsewhere, an intervention that would not otherwise occur. Injecting drug users are also allowed to inject only once per visit, thereby further reducing the risks of dangerous drug combinations such that injecting episodes at the centre are far less risky than they would otherwise be in all other circumstances.

There is no problem with the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre definition of "overdose". The centre uses the internationally accepted clinical definition of opioid overdose syndrome documented in Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine , Thirteenth Edition, Volume 2, on page 2426. This includes shallow respirations of between two to four per minute; pupillary miosis, that is pin-point pupils; bradycardia, which is slow heart rate; a decrease in body temperature and a general absence of response to external stimulation, or a decreased level of consciousness. Staff use the validated Glasgow coma scale to assess and monitor the level of consciousness, and oximetry to measure the hypoxia, or low oxygen levels resulting from depressed respiration, of injecting drug users and to monitor the effectiveness of treatment being administered in overdose situations.

The apparently higher rate of overdose measured at the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, where clinically trained nursing staff are in a unique position to easily diagnose these events, demonstrates the extent of the problem in having previously relied on retrospective self-reporting by injecting drug users, and their cohorts, of their past experience with overdose when attempting to estimate such rates. While researchers have acknowledged the likelihood that such events would be underreported, given that the person involved would necessarily have been heavily drug affected at the time, thus decreasing short-term memory and other cognitive functions, the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre's ability to reliably measure the relative overdose rates of all drugs allows quantification of such under reporting and is an important contribution to the field understanding of the overall incidence of drug overdose in the injecting drug user population. The third key point referred to by Drug Free Australia relates to ambulance call-out rates that are not due to the injecting room.

The Hon. Christine Robertson: A gross improvement.
Mr IAN COHEN: Yes. I acknowledge that comment. The most recent analysis of ambulance call-out data demonstrates definitively that the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre has had a significant impact on ambulance call-outs to drug overdoses in Kings Cross over the past six years, comparable to that attributable to the national heroin shortage. The executive summary of Evaluation Report No. 4 states:

A substantial proportion of the overdoses, 2,106, managed at the site would have resulted in significant morbidity had they occurred elsewhere.

Ambulance call-outs to overdoses in the 2011 postcode, Kings Cross, have decreased 80 per cent since the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre opened in May 2001, whereas they decreased by only 60 per cent elsewhere in New South Wales. However, the neighbouring postcode, 2010, is arguably a better area to use as a comparison, given that it is more likely to share the same drug supplier and drug-using population and therefore the same drug overdose risk characteristics with Kings Cross. Indeed, it was found that ambulance call-outs to overdoses in the 2010 postcode had decreased only 45 per cent compared with 80 per cent in Kings Cross, showing that the centre had a very significant impact on such call-outs, almost doubling that attributable to the ongoing heroin shortage. Evaluation Report No. 4, at page 41, states:

It would be reasonable to conclude that the Sydney MSIC has provided an environment where IDUs at risk of overdose can receive appropriate care and early intervention, without the need to access ambulance services. This in turn may have freed ambulance services to attend other life-threatening callouts within the community.

This reduction in the need for emergency ambulance call-outs due to the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre will also have cost-saving implications. The fourth point raised by Drug Free Australia relates to the trial that finished with the 2003 evaluation. All the countries currently operating supervised injecting facilities including Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, Canada, Norway and Luxembourg—with the United Kingdom, Portugal, Denmark and Poland considering their introduction in the near future—are signatories to all United Nations drug control treaties. At various times over the years the International Narcotics Control Board of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime has contended that these facilities contravene the United Nations drug control treaties by "publicly inciting or inducing as well as aiding and abetting, facilitating or counselling the illicit use of drugs for personal use".

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: Hear! Hear!

Mr IAN COHEN: But that is the American war on drugs, which has failed miserably. More people are dying from the American war on drugs than in any facility or organisation on this Earth. It is the American war on drugs that is creating the problem, not solving it. However, a report prepared in 2002 by the legal affairs section of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime specifically for the International Narcotics Control Board concluded that drug policy must come up with new strategies to cope with new health threats such as growing rates of intravenous HIV transmission. The report stated:

It could even be argued that the drug control treaties, as they stand, have been rendered out of sync with reality, since at the time they came into force [in the early 1960s] they could not possibly have foreseen these new threats.

(UNODC Legal Affairs Section (2002) The flexibility of the treaty provisions as regards harm reduction approaches. Document E/INB/2002/W. 13/SS5.)

With regard to supervised injecting facilities the report specifically stated:

It would be difficult to assert that, in establishing drug injection rooms it is the intent of parties to actually incite or induce the illicit use of drugs, or even more so, to be associated with, aid, abet or facilitate the possession of drugs. On the contrary, it seems clear that in such cases the intention of governments is to provide healthier conditions for IV drug [users], thereby reducing risk of infections with grave transmittable diseases and, at least in some cases, reaching out to them with counselling and other therapeutic options.

While the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre is therefore very unlikely to contravene these treaties regardless of its trial status, any more than the national needle syringe program, which has had bipartisan support since 1988, the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre appreciates that this would not necessarily prevent the Federal Government from launching a potentially costly legal challenge in the High Court, which is best averted. Given the rates of infection in Canada, which does not have a needle exchange program, it is acknowledged that Australia is at the forefront of life-saving policy with the Government's needle exchange program. The program is saving lives and preventing the spread of disease.

The Hon. Catherine Cusack: The Greiner Government introduced it.
The Hon. Charlie Lynn: It's not an exchange program; it's an issue program.

Mr IAN COHEN: I acknowledge the Hon. Catherine Cusack's interjection. If the Greiner Government introduced the program, it is to be congratulated. It is the way to go, and it is to be supported. The Hon. Charlie Lynn interjected that it is a needle supply program rather than a needle exchange program. I have seen it being undertaken. It is a needle exchange program. If it also supplies needles, and that gives people clean, safe injection equipment—because they are going to do it anyway—I support that.

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: It's needle distribution.

Mr IAN COHEN: And it is saving lives. Fifthly, statistically the facility is not capable of saving even one life per annum. In its first six years of operation the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre successfully treated 2,106 overdose cases, 94 per cent of which were opioid related, without fatalities. As noted in Evaluation Report No. 4's discussion section at page 40:

It can be assumed that all of the opioid overdose cases treated at the MSIC would not have otherwise received such prompt assistance and that the early and effective intervention provided by the service is likely to have reduced the morbidity and mortality associated with these events had they occurred elsewhere.

Brain damage and other medical impacts are caused to people who are not treated in time. Even if they are brought back to life, the time lapse involved in the delivery of services is extremely damaging. The tragedy at a human level is significant, but the cost to society of caring for those people—who are in a much worse state than they were before the incident took place—needs to be acknowledged and properly assessed in cold, hard cash terms. Sixthly, the facility provides cubicles for pairs to share the experience of injecting. As I said, the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre accommodates injecting episodes that would otherwise occur in unsupervised, less safe, often public locations in the area, where they would always be more risky. I do not know what other people's experiences are in terms of these situations. Perhaps I hang out on the seedy side of life a little too much. However, I have friends who have been addicted—

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: Byron Bay?

Mr IAN COHEN: The Byron Bay and Nimbin areas, as well as the inner-city and Redfern areas. I have friends in most of these areas, right across New South Wales. I also have experience from when I was in fifth year at high school. A friend of mine overdosed in Cronulla when he dropped out of school in 1968. The lives of numerous other people I have known have also been cut short. I am sure that some members of this House know of similar tragedies—obviously not all members, because some simply do not seem to understand the drug problem and have not been touched by that side of life. A friend of mine—I will not mention names—who is a prominent person in my home community had a son who was an addict and shot up in the local public toilets. He did not die from the overdose; he died when he fell unconscious and hit the side of his head on the sharp edge of the toilet dispenser. What a disgusting, tragic waste!

That is the sort of thing that happens to real people—and that is the sort of thing the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre prevents from happening. There should also be one in Nimbin and other areas where there is a lot of drug usage. I have supported that. There should be a medically supervised injecting centre in areas such as Nimbin, where there is a huge amount of heartfelt public support for people who have problems with addictions.

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: Byron Bay?

Mr IAN COHEN: I said Nimbin, where the concept is supported. It would be very likely supported in Byron Bay as well. Clinical staff are trained to identify first-time injectors, who are in fact very rare in the Kings Cross area. The average injecting drug user registering to use the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre is 33 years old and has a 14-year history of injecting drugs. Injecting drug users must be 18 years old to be eligible to use the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre. Injecting drug users are not allowed to inject each other at the centre—which is common practice in all other settings and is associated with the transmission of blood-borne infections, including HIV, and hepatitis B and C.

As well as providing clean injecting equipment and a clinical environment, staff at the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre have provided personally tailored advice to injecting drug users about how to reduce injecting risks on more than 21,000 occasions to date. Health promotion campaigns are also regularly conducted at the centre, to prevent blood-borne infections in the injecting drug user population.
While the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre supports all calls for additional funding for drug treatment and rehabilitation programs, unlike Mr Christian we do not accept that this justifies the closure of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Kings Cross. Over the past six years the centre has successfully addressed the range of serious public health and public order problems resulting from a longstanding concentration of street-based, drug-related activity in the Kings Cross area. In this sense the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre is a unique facility for unique problems, which are not addressed by any other programs.

It is worth exploring the background of Drug Free Australia. Last year Federal member of Parliament Laurie Ferguson asked a question in Parliament regarding the $600,000 grant received by Drug Free Australia to "promote abstinence-based strategies". Apparently, there was no submission process and Parliamentary Secretary Chris Pyne, in his response to this question, refused to shed any further light on what Drug Free Australia would actually provide for the $600,000. It is apparent that at least part of this allocation has been used to fund Gary Christian's full-time salary to develop and produce the rather well laid out glossy brochure "The Case for Closure of the Kings Cross Heroin Injecting Room", thousands of copies of which have been distributed to all members of Parliament in Australia, both Federal and State—indeed, twice to New South Wales members of Parliament—and to residents in the Potts Point-Kings Cross area.

Drug Free Australia is basically a lobby group that advocates zero tolerance and is fiercely opposed to harm reduction. While the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre has been its main target in the last four years, the group also advocates closure of the entire needle syringe program. I am advised that the Howard Government has a specific policy that states that government national drug strategy moneys will only fund service provider organisations, not advocacy organisations. So, apart from the lack of transparency regarding how Drug Free Australia got the $600,000 and what it was for, it should not be eligible for this funding in any event.

These facts are probably not unrelated. What binds the group together appears to be its Christian fundamentalism. Gary Christian is high up in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Other leading lights include its past patron, Major Brian Watters, who is close to the Prime Minister, and who is now Deputy Chair of the United Nation's International Narcotics Control Board, which oversees these drug treaties.

Those quoted as having provided expert advice regarding Gary Christian's analysis of the centre's 18­month evaluation report include Dr Stuart Reece, who is described as an addiction medicine specialist in the brochure but who holds no post-graduate qualifications let alone specialist qualifications in addiction medicine. He was almost struck off the Queensland Medical Board, which investigated him for an usually high mortality rate among his naltrexone patients. In a Federal parliamentary inquiry run by Bronwyn Bishop, Reece cited as part of his evidence Sodom and Gomorrah, the biblical cities destroyed by their immorality.

He suggested that Australia's civilisation was similarly under threat from injecting rooms, syringe programs and methadone clinics. He also gained notoriety for suggesting that condoms caused HIV-AIDS. It shows where these people are coming from when they advocate the closure of a health facility aimed at harm minimisation—a facility that has been operating successfully and saving lives. I commend the Government's decision to extend the trial of the Kings Cross Medically Supervised Injecting Centre and applaud it for its brave stance against these rabid attacks.

The Hon. TREVOR KHAN [11.21 p.m.]: Some members know that this is an issue about which I have mixed feelings. I have mixed feelings for a number of reasons. When I spoke at our State conference I expressed firm views about this issue. I am happy to recount those views. However, let me put this debate into context. I heard views expressed in this debate extraordinarily vehemently. We are talking about people's lives. We are not talking about some academic expression of faith and we are not talking about the passage of some criminal bill that may or may not have an impact on people. We are talking about whether people will live or die and the circumstances in which that will occur. I cannot resile from that.

At the weekend I said in part that I was motivated by the SOD principle, that is, what I would expect to happen to my son or daughter. I think, in particular, in the context of my son, for reasons that I do not need to go into. He is a strong, healthy and intelligent young man who might share many of the weaknesses of his father and other members of his family. I can see that he, like many other young men, could seriously go off the rails. When I look into his eyes I see the possibility that he might not survive young adulthood, and that worries me intensely. I cannot think of this debate in the context of some useless drug addict; I think of it in the context of my family, which worries me.
I have thought about this debate in another context. Harold Metcalfe, the only grandfather I knew, was a printer at Fairfax. He finished at Fairfax without telling his wife or children and, no doubt, that was because he was an alcoholic. He continued to go to work, or so his family thought, for months. But, of course, he did not go to work; he went to the pub. His family never knew that he had finished work. One day when he was coming back from the White Horse Hotel at Kensington he got off the bus on Gardeners Road. He did not succeed in finally crossing the road; he was run over and he died.

When I heard Mr Ian Cohen talking about cycles of addiction I thought of my grandfather in the gutter. When Mr Ian Cohen spoke about friends he had known whose children might have died I thought of Harold Metcalfe, a man of great worth. I can still smell him. I remember the popcorn that he gave me and I can still remember the lawn at the front of his house. Harold died essentially because of his addiction. He died because his addiction was not treated. He died because at that time we found poor excuses for how he could continue to work. We found excuses for how he could cope within his family.

No doubt what was said of him at the time was that he would eventually find a way out of his addiction. He found a way when he was struck by a car on Gardeners Road. I say frankly to Mr Ian Cohen that his way out is appallingly simplistic. It lacks the personal expression of the loss of somebody close. I move next to my school friends. David—I will not mention his second name—died in the toilets at Kings Cross. His life might or might not have been saved if there had been an injecting room at Kings Cross. Tammy, one of my clients and no doubt a prostitute, also died at Kings Cross. There was no question that she had a heavy heroin habit. She died because there were no facilities to help her. She died because she alone would never have found a way out of her addiction.

I come back to my son. Will a heroin injecting room provide him with an answer? It cannot. If he were a heroin addict it might keep him or another heroin addict alive for a little longer, but it cannot provide him with answers. My son, my grandfather and other relatives and friends require appropriate facilities. Drug addicts require additional expenditure on Drug Court facilities that will provide the answers and the motivation for them to give up their addiction. We need people to be placed in appropriate facilities to encourage them to avoid or escape their addiction.

Mr Ian Cohen does not have an answer other than to say that people might find a way out. My experience over 20 years shows me that addicts generally do not themselves have the capacity to find a way out. Despite my great wishes I know that a drug injecting facility will not provide a way out. It might facilitate an injection without infection but it will not provide addicts with a way out of their addiction. I am compelled to state that, at the end of the day, I have struggled with this issue. I still remember that Harold died in the gutter. He needed help. He did not need somebody to provide him with a drink, or even a clean glass; he needed somebody to take him by the arm and show him how not to drink. I oppose this bill.

The Hon. ROBYN PARKER [11.29 p.m.]: I thank the Hon. Trevor Khan for a very moving contribution to the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill 2007. I know that he thought about this issue long and hard. Although I disagree with his conclusion to some extent, I agree very much with the sentiments he expressed and the reasons he gave for his conclusion. Certainly, in part, his conclusion is one many of us can come to. This is the second occasion on which I have had an opportunity to speak in support of the injecting room. On this occasion, honourable members have a conscience vote. I remind all honourable members that we are fortunate in our democratic parties of progressives and conservatives to be able to respect each other's points of view, not only in this Chamber but also outside it, and within the party. That applies not only now but also down the track. We come to these decisions based on our backgrounds, our understanding and perhaps our diversity of experience.

That is the wonderful thing about the Liberal Party. I know Labor members may disagree, but one of the reasons why I am a Liberal is because members of the Liberal Party are progressives, they are conservatives and they are somewhere in between: we are able to agree and we are able to agree to disagree. It seems to me that I am a moth to a flame when it comes to a conscience vote. However, when I looked at my previous contribution in support of the injecting room I found that I have not changed too many of my views. In fact, when I looked back on some of the misgivings I had about the referral rates and other issues, I have been encouraged in my decision.

Why do I come to a decision to support what, to many honourable members, seems to be a facility to encourage drug use? This issue is about people, it is about humanity and it is about having an understanding of humanity. It is about us saying that we value every life if we possibly can; that we value lives that are travelling well by today's standards and by our standards, but we also value those who have fallen by the wayside or those who are ill in a whole range of ways. It is not just an opportunity for us to say we value the lives of some people and not others, because the people who are clients of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre are someone's son, daughter or loved one. They have grown from the completely innocent life of a small child to a life that is not pure. Many clients of the injecting centre may have criminal pastimes to support their habit; some of them are not nice people, and some probably are; and some of them will have slipped from a high-value life to the point of almost no return.

It is for those people who are on the very fringes of society and at a point where they are almost beyond retrieval that this centre serves a purpose. It is not the only answer to dealing with the drug crisis in our country but it is one of a whole range of measures. To be political for a moment, I might say that this Government needs to lift its act in taking more initiatives in regard to dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. Last week we moved towards some amendments in relation to severe drug and alcohol dependency, but there is much more we could be doing and much further we could go. I know and have visited drug-dependent people. The families whose lives have been disrupted by drugs may surprise many people. Addicts are not just marginalised people living in the suburbs who suffer from social disadvantage; addicts can come from quite wealthy families. In fact, the most recent contact I had was with a mother whose son is the same age as one of my sons. This woman said to me that one minute her son was winning prizes at sport, the school captain, almost the dux of school, and the next minute he suffered a drug overdose in his car on his own somewhere on the outskirts of town. Had there been a n intervention of any kind that incident may not have happened.

Many young people drift to inner-city areas. They go to Kings Cross because they know they can procure drugs. But perhaps that is where they can go to find a safe haven, if there is such a thing. The drug problem was almost out of control in Kings Cross when the injecting centre commenced after the Drug Summit. This is the right service, it is appropriately placed and it is appropriate for the clients who use it. However, it is not the only service we should be offering. I do not support an expansion of the service. The service is needed, and I am glad it is there. Many people are alive today because of it. If the injecting centre had not been established, Kings Cross would be no different than it was prior to the introduction of the centre.

On many occasions I have been with drug addicts through their detox process. I have been through squats looking for drug addicts. I have been with parents who have pleaded with police to keep their children incarcerated so they at least stay off the streets and do not overdose. I understand the anguish of people who have the addiction and of their family and loved ones. I understand the powerlessness they all feel. Perhaps the referral rates for clients who go to the injecting room are not as high as they should be. However, honourable members need to understand the types of clients who are going to the centre ¾ they are not the types of clients who are going to be referred immediately, they are at an end point. If we can deal with a number of their other complex health needs—many of them have multiple and complex health needs—if we can solve some of those problems and help them get parts of their lives together, they can be referred on. Let us not forget that other agencies do not have a huge success rate with referrals of drug addicts either. One has to compare apples with apples.

Drug addicts require many opportunities and many referrals into rehabilitation, and they fail more times than they succeed. It is not a perfect situation. The statistics for one group of people cannot be compared to the statistics of another. These people have to be offered referrals to rehabilitation, and we have to keep trying. If they are not referred and if they do not present to particular services, it is because it is just not the right mix of service provider for them. It does not mean that the injecting room has failed as such.

The centre has addressed some serious public health and public order problems in Kings Cross related to street-based drug activity. It is a unique facility that solves unique problems that other programs do not address. It has success stories. The centre's clients are long-term drug users—people on the margins of society—who have not only a drug-addiction problem but also many other health and mental issues. The centre and its amazing staff—whose compassion and humility is an example to us all—are saving lives. Some members are extremely critical of the centre yet they have never been there. They have no idea what it is like inside. They have never spoken to staff or talked to clients. If they visited Kings Cross they could not find the centre in a million years because it does not stand out; it is not a honey pot. The centre has no visible street presence.

I am tired of the virtual hysteria from people who do not understand the centre and its role and who have never been there. It is a health facility. People either support facilities that use a range of measures to deal with drug addiction or they do not. People either support harm minimisation, in all its facets, or they do not. Harm minimisation has worked incredibly well to solve some huge problems with HIV-AIDS. It has certainly improved the amenity of places such as Kings Cross, where disused needles used to litter the alleyways and innocent people could sustain needle stick injuries. This legislation is about harm minimisation, health and a centre that does not condone drug use. It is a medical facility. I remind members that it is called the "Medically Supervised Injecting Centre". It is not a "shooting gallery"—as one of my colleagues likes to call it—but a medical centre. The centre has a clinical, not a party, atmosphere, and caring, compassionate and professional staff. I will relate some of the centre's successes to the House. I have a few anecdotes. Lucille says:

I would like to say a huge thank you to all the wonderful people involved in the centre. I signed up when you opened and now 18 months later I am saying my goodbyes to everyone—hopefully for good.

Shona said:

I'm on methadone now and I'm not going back to the streets any more. I'm looking forward to looking for a place to live and starting TAFE soon—I'm changing a lot at the moment.

Sam said:

Thank you for this service. Lots of my friends have died on the street from overdoses at very young ages. If this service had been around then I'm sure many of them would be alive today. Thank you for this safe, clean and life saving centre.

Drug users often lead very lonely lives. People do not set out to become intravenous drug users; it is on no-one's must-do list. People drift into drug addiction, often very quickly. Intravenous users feel alienated, dirty and alone. Another client of the centre said:

… when I discovered the MSIC I felt safe—safe to know there was help if I needed it.

Chella said:

I hope this service is continued—it is so important to keep people clean and alive until the day they feel they can attack their problems. Too many people die in the gutter—keep up the good work guys. It's good to see that people do care about us—the supposed "dregs of society". We are real people too—with mothers and fathers and people that love us. Your lack of judgement is appreciated.

Contrary to what some members have said, not only drug users appreciate the centre. Many in the business community and many local residents are glowing in their praise of the injecting centre. At a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre Symposium in July last year Tom McMahon said:

When we purchased the Regents Court building in August 1987 we felt that Kings Cross had sunk about as low as it could go. Sadly it continued to get worse into the mid-nineties. The strip actually got to the point where it was controlled by criminals and thugs, the area was awash with drugs and violence was commonplace. Profitable businesses were based on sex or drugs or often both.

Thank God for the Royal Commission without which recovery was impossible.

Mr McMahon went on to explain how Kings Cross had regenerated. There is a real estate boom and people now appreciate living in the area. He said:

Our guests constantly complained about public shooting up, needles left everywhere on the street and drug related assaults often in the middle of the night. Many guests couldn't stomach it and checked out. Ambulance sirens were heard day and night.

He said that he has noticed continuing improvements over the past five years. He continued:

The number of drug affected people on the streets have dropped to almost nil and we are thrilled to see more children in the neighbourhood. Now we have most nights with no sirens …

Several other businesspeople talked about how centre staff, working in conjunction with the police, have improved the area's amenity. That is a good result for local residents and for businesspeople. I know that people have differing views on that point. Perhaps some businesspeople who are complaining about having to close their doors might consider the impact of extensive and ongoing road closures and repair work on their businesses. Perhaps their businesses simply were not relevant in the King Cross environment. Businesspeople speak of how addicts used to overdose and be found slumped in doorways. There have been big improvements since then.

Some organisations, such as Drug Free Australia—which Mr Ian Cohen mentioned—are peddling misinformation about the centre. Drug Free Australia argues that heroin injections constitute just 26 per cent of the centre's total injecting capacity. When I asked centre staff about this they told me that a range of drugs have been injected during the 391,027 visits that injecting drug users have made to the centre in the past six years. Some 62 per cent went to the centre to inject heroin; 12 per cent, other opioids; 14 per cent, cocaine; 6 per cent, methamphetamines; and 3 per cent, benzodiazepines. In the past year about 75 per cent to 80 per cent of clients visited the centre to inject heroin and other drugs in this opioid class; and about 350 opioid-related overdose cases were treated successfully. I suggest that in a different environment they would have been 350 fatal overdoses.

The proportions of the respective drugs injected at the centre have fluctuated widely and reflect their relative price and availability in the Kings Cross area. The centre performs an important function in monitoring the varieties and availability of drugs. It can tip off local police and other health services about impending dangers and indicate what drugs people are using. As Mr Ian Cohen said, 76 other supervised injecting facilities currently operate around the world in eight different countries. We must remember that the objective of these centres is to prevent and reduce injecting-related harm associated with the use of all injectable drugs, not just heroin. We should recognise also that intravenous drug users are usually poly-drug users—in other words, they use a range of different drugs and are therefore at risk of contracting HIV-AIDS, hepatitis and so on.

Drug Free Australia claims that experimentation with dangerous drugs dominates the statistics. In reply the centre states that it relocates injecting episodes that would otherwise occur in unsupervised, less safe and often very public circumstances. Clients are only able to inject once per visit, reducing the risk of dangerous drug combinations, making the centre far less risky than other places. Criticism has been made about the definition of "overdose". The centre states that it uses the internationally accepted clinical definition of opioid overdose syndrome, which has been documented. People who overdose face an increased risk of damage if left too long and the centre's nursing staff are in a unique position to diagnose these events and deal with problems more quickly than if a paramedic had to be called.

Drug Free Australia also claims that a drop in ambulance call-out rates in Kings Cross is not the result of the injecting room but the result of a heroin drought. In reply to this argument, the centre states the most recent analysis of ambulance call-out data demonstrates definitively that the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre has had a significant impact on ambulance call-outs to drug overdoses in Kings Cross over the past six years, comparable to that attributable to the national heroin shortage and that a substantial proportion of the overdoses managed at the site, which were 2,106, would have resulted in significant morbidity had they occurred elsewhere; in other words, some of those people would be dead.

Given the lateness of the hour I will not go into great detail. The centre has more information on its website available to honourable members, and the centre's staff would be delighted if honourable members visited the facility they are so passionately opposed to. They might get further information that refutes a number of claims by Drug Free Australia. Claims have been made that the centre is not capable of saving even one life a year. I do not know how anyone can say that when in six years 2,106 people have been treated for overdose without one fatality. Potentially a large proportion of those people have been saved.

Many statements have been made about the design of the facility being available for people to share. Centre staff have said they accommodate injecting episodes that would otherwise occur in an unsupervised, less safe environment, and staff are trained to identify people who might be first-time injectors, which would be very rare in the Kings Cross area. Most users are long-term users, on average about 33 years of age, with a 14-year history of drug taking. Staff members do not encourage people to go into the centre to use drugs to shoot up for the first time. It is a facility for long-term users.

There is no question in my mind that the injecting room has been successful and that it should have the support of the House. The bill contains a provision to cover the situation if, over time, the need for the services of the centre decreases. It would be wonderful if we reached the point where we did not need this centre. It would show that the centre had served its purpose and that we were successful in the war against drugs or that perhaps the area was not as attractive for injecting as it once was.

I ask honourable members to think long and hard about harm minimisation and the sorts of people who use the centre. We should be a compassionate, decent and humane society. We should remember that taxpayers' dollars are not funding the centre. To suggest otherwise is just another myth. Money would be better spent on a range of other services but we cannot just deny people in need. To do so is to deny humanity, which we should support. I know the people who developed the centre, including Reverend Harry Herbert, Executive Director of UnitingCare, a compassionate man, who stated:

I am proud that UnitingCare has been able to play an important role in operating the centre. We want to help people get off drugs. But while they are struggling to do that, caught up in the chaotic vortex of drug addiction, should we just abandon them to their fate? No, the essence of Christianity is to help our neighbour, even when we don't approve of everything our neighbour has been doing. The premature deaths of drug users have enormous ripple-on effects among their family and friends. Often whole communities are affected. Keeping drug users alive and safe while at the same time encouraging them to change their lifestyle is a most creative work.

Other members have mentioned the Medical Director, Dr Ingrid van Beek, who is internationally recognised. We are very lucky to have her involved in the centre because she has done an outstanding job. A year ago she wrote:

The MSIC has made contact with a significant proportion of the local drug using population, many of whom had not previously had contact with health services.

Most had not had contact with existing health services for drug users prior to attending the centre. It is estimated that the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre made contact with more than 70 per cent of the local drug-using population in its first 18-month trial period, and its coverage of this population will have increased further since then. These people are now in a cycle that enables them to be referred whereas previously they were not attending any health services. The centre is a gateway, indeed an improved gateway. When it was initially established, the referral processes were in need of improvement and that has happened. People are being referred on to other programs such as naltrexone, morphine and other services.

Honourable members should also remember that many people are estranged from their families and that, where it is safe to do so, the centre works hard to reunite people with their families. Honourable members have dispelled many of the other myths but I am sure we will hear these myths repeated as fact again in the debate. However, I encourage members to go to the centre's website to see the value of this service. I extend my personal and sincere thanks and admiration to the staff and board members. I remind honourable members of the environment in the Kings Cross area before the centre was opened. There was undesirable drug-taking behaviour in and around the streets.

The successes of the centre are the reason we should support its continued operation. Several years ago members agreed to give this project the go-ahead in an attempt to reduce the scourge of drugs on the people of New South Wales, particularly in Kings Cross. The centre has made an enormous difference to the lives of users and enabled thousands to reconnect with society, many with their families. We have the opportunity once again to take the lead and allow the fantastic and necessary work that is being under undertaken at the centre to continue. I ask members to consider the thousands of families in New South Wales who may be helped by this service when their son or daughter, or friend, or mother or father seeks help from this service and takes a giant step forward to making a real change for themselves. Last week I was reminded of some of the very wise statements of Robert Kennedy. In conclusion, I quote one of them:

Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.

I urge honourable members to support the bill and allow the work of the Medically Supervised Injection Centre to continue.

The Hon. MATTHEW MASON-COX [12.01 a.m.]: I oppose the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill 2007, which provides for the continuation, for another four years, of the trial of the Kings Cross drug injecting centre. This trial commenced in May 2001, more than six years ago, and was due to end on 31 October this year. The bill seeks to extend its operation until 31 October 2011. I note the statements made by the Minister for Health in the other place as to the rationale for a four-year extension of this controversial trial:

The bill enables the centre to continue providing a service for a group of marginalised long-term drug users with significant health and social problems who have either failed drug treatment or never sought it before. A further trial period will also enable a longer-term evidence base to be established as to the effectiveness of the centre. This is of particular importance, given the long-term drug use of its client group, and will inform any future decisions on the permanency of the centre.

One has to wonder whether the Minister is being a little disingenuous in suggesting that six years is insufficient time to gather evidence as to the effectiveness of the centre. There have been a number of interim reviews as well as the review released last week by the Minister. How many reviews are enough? And when does a trial become a permanent piece of government policy? I suggest we have reached that point with the Kings Cross injecting room.
Indeed, it sounds like the Minister and the Government simply do not want to make a decision and have taken the easy route of simply extending the trial for another four years. Why will the Government not have the courage of its convictions and legislate to keep this centre open permanently or, alternatively, close it down? I wonder. Well, the Government knows that the drug injecting room is a clear breach of Australia's international obligations. The International Narcotics Control Board of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime has consistently contended that these facilities contravene the United Nations drug control treaties by "publicly inciting or inducing as well as aiding and abetting, facilitating or counselling the illicit use of drugs for personal use".

Therefore this Government is running from the risk of being painted as soft on drugs by the international community. It is also running from the risk of being seen as soft on drugs by the people of New South Wales, who, I contend, are strongly against the drug injecting room. That is why we continue with this façade of a trial for another four years. The Minister goes on to say that the trial of the centre has clearly met the Government's objective to decrease overdose deaths, provide a gateway to treatment, reduce discarded needles and d Therefore this Government is running from the risk of being painted as soft on drugs by the international community. It is also running from the risk of being seen as soft on drugs by the people of New South Wales, who, I contend, are strongly against the drug injecting room. That is why we continue with this façade of a trial for another four years. The Minister goes on to say that the trial of the centre has clearly met the Government's objective to decrease overdose deaths, provide a gateway to treatment, reduce discarded needles and drug users injecting in public places, and help reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. On the face of the recent evaluations commissioned by the Government, this is alleged to be true. It is worth noting that evaluation report No. 4 states:

There are many scientific, practical and ethical challenges involved in evaluating health interventions such as supervised injecting facilities and accurately quantifying their effectiveness.

I emphasise the word "accurately". I note that most of the objectives appear to have been met, at least superficially or in part, in as much as that can be effectively measured. However, there is one critical area—I think the most critical area of the evaluation criteria—in which this centre has been an unmitigated failure. This is drug treatment referrals, a matter about which a number of honourable members have spoken.

In the first few years of the operation of the centre the rate of referral was at about 0.5 per cent of total visits. This exceptionally low rate of drug treatment referrals was acknowledged and addressed in October 2004 by the employment of a case referral coordinator. However, this step led to only a doubling of drug treatment referrals to 1 per cent of total visits in the following year—just 1 per cent of total visits. This rate of referral is appallingly low, reflecting the high percentage of hard-core users visiting the centre. What realistic chance does this offer for a drug-free future for those addicts? Not much, I contend—not much at all.

A community worker recently relayed to me the story of a young man, a drug addict, who had moved to Sydney from the country. When asked how he was settling down in Sydney, he replied that he wished he had made the move years ago. In Sydney, he said, he had better access to drugs, cheaper prices, access to needles and also access to a drug injecting room with all the facilities that such a room offers. Everything was free, the police did not hassle him, he got free food, free coffee, a free place to live—free everything, in his own words. He had never had it so good! He wondered why he had not come to Sydney a lot sooner.

Yesterday I visited the drug injecting centre at Kings Cross. What an eye-opening experience that was! Before going in I stopped about 30 metres down the street, just to assess what was going on in the immediate vicinity. I watched as a dozen or so people appeared near Kings Cross station and openly bought drugs from a couple of drug dealers, then moved across the street and went into the centre to shoot up. It was a bit like a procession. I must admit that I was a bit surprised with the openness and brashness of all that activity. I went and had a chat to the security guard who is posted outside the centre at all times the centre is open, just to get an idea whether that was a usual state of affairs. He pretty much confirmed that it was normal, that the same sort of people came along every day, and it was typical of the process involved—the same faces, the same habits, and the same result.

The Hon. Robyn Parker: Did you go inside?

The Hon. MATTHEW MASON-COX: Yes, I did go inside. I spoke to the staff at the centre and asked a whole range of questions. That was an elucidating experience. But I must admit that it only confirmed my very strong opinion that we must close the centre. I will continue to provide some more information in that regard. In assessing the effectiveness of the drug injecting centre we must consider what is in the best interests of the individual—in this case, the drug user. We must make that assessment against the full gamut of other societal responses in this complex area. We must also consider its impact on the surrounding community and the wider community. In this, like in so many other areas, our actions speak louder than our words.
The Government says that it is tough on drugs, and points to factors like legal prohibition and more police on the street. Yet, in this case, it turns a blind eye to illegal drug use and offers assistance for drug users through the Kings Cross drug injecting centre. I do not doubt that the Government's intention is noble; we have heard many honourable members tonight speak strongly in support of that contention. I respect their views in that regard. I also understand that they are very well meaning in holding those views. But, in my mind the centre sends a terribly confusing message to our young people about drugs and their acceptability in our community. Moreover, and probably more importantly, it offers little hope of rehabilitation for drug users. On its own quantitative assessment, less than 1 per cent of drug treatment referrals is an appalling result for this centre. It does little to get addicts off this merry-go-round, and these intractable users are in need of significant support. However, we have support mechanisms working the other way, in that they retain intractable users in these destructive habits. The drug injecting room is one of those mechanisms.

Instead, we should be considering innovative ways to treat and rehabilitate drug users to get them off their addiction merry-go-round and back into mainstream society. We should be trialling other solutions that put treatment and rehabilitation first, not harm minimisation. It is time for this tired drug injecting room trial to be abandoned. It has been a miserable failure, particularly for those it was meant to assist. It is time we looked at treatment and rehabilitation solutions that build hope for the future rather than continue with this failed trial that merely maintains the misery of the present. I urge honourable members to reject this bill.

The Hon. CHARLIE LYNN [12.10 a.m.]: I oppose the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill. The purpose of the bill is to extend the operation of the Kings Cross injecting room for another four years, until October 2011. However, that is not quite true, but that is how this Labor Government would like to think it was. In reality there has already been a trial, so there is no need for another trial. This is about instituting a facility, making it part of the suburb of Kings Cross and keeping it there, all the while retaining the title "trial" to avoid adverse reaction from the community. Based on all the available information, there is no objective reason why the Kings Cross injecting room needs to continue operating.

There are many reasons to close the injecting room in Kings Cross, but the most compelling is that the heroin injecting room is rapidly becoming the ice injecting room. Currently there is an ice epidemic. In 2006 only 38 per cent of injections in the injecting room were heroin injections. Other substances such as cocaine and morphine, but most frighteningly ice, were commonly used. The injecting centre's medical director, Ingrid van Beek, said 8 per cent of the 220 addicts using the centre each day were injecting ice. That is more than twice the number 18 months ago. An article in the Sunday Telegraph of 10 December, entitled "Ice addicts flood injection rooms", revealed that violent ice addicts are using the Kings Cross injecting room to shoot up as police battle a crime wave fuelled by the drug. Ice is a highly addictive and destructive substance. It changes the user's behaviour in such a dramatic way and also causes aggression and can lead to psychosis. The article reported that outside the injecting centre journalists had approached several addicts who admitted to using ice inside. One man said staff did not check the type of drug he injected. The article reported him as saying:

I just don't tell them. They don't care; they just write you down on a piece of paper.

You just say, "I'm doing hammer (heroin)" and go boom, boom quickly. Just keep it quiet.

Another addict, calling himself Ace, was reported as saying:

Hell yeah, bro, it's a proper sealed joint in there with security guards and all. You can do what you want.

It's amnesty once you cross the door; cops can't touch you.

Kings Cross police duty officer Robert Allison said users high on ice were assaulting people and damaging property in the area. He said:

When they're in the episodes, they commit violent crimes—assault and malicious damage, punching a glass pane.

It's more prevalent now. We have noticed people affected by ice are creating more problems for police and tying up police longer because we have had to stay with them.

Even Premier Iemma said ice addiction was a serious problem and that he was "extremely concerned about the increased use of ice across the community, and the use of the drug at the Kings Cross facility is no exception". This is an absolute travesty. While health professionals and law enforcement agencies on the front line are combating the growing ice epidemic within the community, the State Government is on the other side not only condoning but promoting the use of ice.
Another significant reason for closing the injecting room is that it is, by any reasonable measure, a complete and utter failure. While the main function of the injecting room is to provide a safe environment for heroin addicts, thereby enhancing injector safety and decreasing overdose deaths, it was found that those addicts who accessed the injecting room did so on average one out of every 35 injections. So, on the other 34 occasions they injected elsewhere. If every heroin injection is potentially fatal, this statistic alone surely proves that injector safety is not enhanced and therefore the injecting room is a failure. If the heroin user wanted to avoid a fatal overdose, he would have every injection inside the room, not just one out of every 35 injections.

So underutilised is the injecting room that it has averaged just 200 injections per day despite having the capacity to host 330 per day, rendering the injecting room less than satisfactory. Based on this statistic, the heroin injecting room cannot possibly save a single life. To the contrary, the injecting room has an extraordinary rate of overdose—9.2 overdoses for every 1,000 injections. Page 62 of the injecting room's own evaluation stated:

In this study of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre … there were 9.2 heroin overdoses per 1000 heroin injections in the MSIC, and this rate of overdose is likely to be higher than among heroin injectors generally.

The [injecting room] clients seem to have been a high risk group with a higher rate of heroin injections and heroin injectors who did not use the [injecting room], they were often injecting on the streets, and they may have taken more risk and used more heroin in the [injecting room].

Because medical supervision provides this illusion of safety, addicts are taking higher risks by injecting higher doses of heroin and as a result there is a higher rate of overdoses. It is not until the injecting room overdose rate is compared to other overdose rates that its full magnitude is realised. The heroin injecting room overdose rate is 36 times higher than on the streets of Kings Cross, at least 40 times higher than the injecting room client's previous history, and 49 times higher than the estimated national overdose averages. A probable consequence of clients using higher doses of heroin is that the injecting room is adding to the profits of local drug dealers. This would obviously be of concern to the community.

Honourable members will recall that during the Drug Summit the Government stated its aim was to help people find the path to recovery. Unfortunately, experience has shown that very few addicts who have gone to the Kings Cross Medically Supervised Injecting Centre have been put on the path to recovery. While this was a noble objective, there have been only 6,243 referrals to other services. That works out to be 16 referrals per 1,000 visits. Unfortunately there have been no details of the outcomes of these referrals. While the number of total referrals is hardly impressive, the number of clients referred to treatment or rehabilitation is even smaller. The majority of referrals were to social welfare assistance, which might well be assumed to be Centrelink benefits. Other referrals were for legal matters and counselling for issues other than drugs, such as medical or dental health education and testing for blood-borne viruses and sexually transmitted diseases. However, as previously stated, there is no record of follow-up of any referral. Of course, referrals can also be accomplished by any health worker service, and even a soup kitchen.

The injecting room's 2003 evaluation outlined the failure of the injecting room in achieving its other objective to reduce the spread of diseases. There was no identified improvement in HIV infections, hepatitis B infections, hepatitis C infections, new needle and syringe use, overdose presentations at hospital emergency wards, ambulance overdose attendance in the area, or ambulance overdose attendance during the hours the injecting room was open. In areas where there was some evidence of improvement during the trial, such as the number of public injections sighted by residents and the number of publicly discarded syringes, the improvements can be largely attributed to the significant drop in the supply of heroin in Sydney, which is referred to as the heroin drought. The injecting room's own 2003 evaluation declared that the injecting room showed no impact on ambulance callout rates, and callout reductions were the result of the heroin drought, which started six months before the injecting room opened in May 2001. This drought continues.

It is the heroin drought, not the injecting room, that has reduced public injecting and discarded needles. It is the heroin drought, which came about as a result of the Federal Government's tough on drugs initiative, that is getting results by cutting supply, not the State Government's shooting gallery in Kings Cross, which, for all intents and purposes, legalises using drugs like heroin. It is my strong preference and the preference of many in the community that the injecting room be immediately closed, that all funds instead be made available for treatment and rehabilitation services by all levels of Government, and that the focus be on prevention not harm minimisation. Harm minimisation pragmatically accepts that people will use illicit drugs and seeks to minimise the harm of doing so. Consequently, harm minimisation characteristically places little emphasis on the prevention of drug use. Harm minimisation does not work.
In the 2004 report of the United Nation's Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention Australia's statistics indicated the highest levels of illicit drug abuse amongst OECD countries, which may well be due to its long history of allowing harm-minimisation policies to predominate over prevention policies. It had the highest levels of cannabis and amphetamine use, and the fifth highest use of cocaine. Australia's more recent prevention messages and excellent work by the Federal police have seen solid reductions in illicit drug use in Australia, despite harm minimisation still predominating. It is certain that these decreases have been produced not by harm minimisation, but by prevention strategies. Ordinary mums and dads in the community do not want to minimise the harm to their children from illicit drugs and, more importantly, they do not want the State Government to minimise the harm to their children from illicit drugs. They want to prevent illicit drugs from harming their children in the first place, and they want the State Government to do all it can to prevent drugs from harming their children in the first place.

My final reason for supporting the closure of the heroin injecting room is that it has attracted worldwide condemnation. There is a legal question mark over its existence and it is a source of shame to Sydney. Not many cities in the world have a Government that actively promotes breaking the law. The only other countries with a heroin injecting room are Germany, Switzerland, Canada and the Netherlands. The International Narcotics and Control Board specifically singled out the Kings Cross injecting room trial as being in breach of international conventions against illicit drug use. The trial does not utilise legal heroin, rather it depends on the client illegally procuring heroin, illegally transporting heroin and illegally using heroin. Furthermore, if the injecting room trial had been valid, the 2003 evaluation should have marked the end of the trial, results should have been forwarded to the International Narcotics and Control Board and the injecting room should have been closed. According to excerpts of a letter to Australia's ambassador to the United Nations published on 15 December in the Canberra Times , the International Narcotics and Control Board President, Antonio Martins, warned:
      By permitting injection rooms, the Government could be considered to be facilitating the commission of possession and use crimes, as well as other criminal offences including drug trafficking.

I do not support the bill. I urge honourable members to vote against it.

The Hon. CATHERINE CUSACK [12.23 a.m.]: The genesis of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre was the Drug Summit, which was held in 1999. The Medically Supervised Injecting Centre did not commence operations until May 2001. At that time it was a pilot program established for a period of 18 months, which we subsequently extended for a period of 30 months. In October 2003 the House debated a bill without the benefit of research to which the Hon. Charlie Lynn referred, which was an evaluation of the program that was promised to the Parliament to enable it to consider further legislation in 2003. Unfortunately, the Department of Health was unable to provide that in time for our debate, which was held very late in October 2003, only a matter of days before the mandate for the centre expired. At that time Liberal Party members were allowed a conscience vote, but members of the Government and The Nationals were not. The bill passed through this House, and the so-called trial was extended for a further four years. Here we are in June 2007 with a bill that again extends the trial for another four years until October 2011, which means we are now looking at a total of 10 years for the trial.

It is difficult to regard the program as a genuine pilot, given the length of the trial will be 10 years. I think the word "subterfuge" would be a better description of what we are debating in the legislation. I note that over the 10-year period there will be no extension of the trial to any other part of the State. There will be no outcome to the trial. As a result of all the evaluations the only outcome is to extend the trial. No other outcomes have impacted on the serious problem of drug abuse in the State. I note that in the Minister's second reading speech one of the outcomes in the current evaluation of the centre is that the Director of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reported that there is no evidence that the centre has had an adverse impact on drug­related crime. In other words, the centre has not increased the amount of crime. It is a pretty pathetic achievement for a drug injecting centre. The fact the centre has caused no additional harm is not, of itself, a rationale to continue it.

I note from the Minister's second reading speech that only 68 per cent of business operators in the area support the centre. These are business operators in the Kings Cross area who are not impervious to the reality of what goes on in Kings Cross. But the centre has been vigorously opposed consistently by surrounding businesses over a long period of time. Many of those businesses will have sold up and moved. The fact that all this time later only 68 per cent of business operators support the centre does no credit to the Government's promises regarding outcomes for the centre. The research I have seen relating to 2003 and, as I understand it, the most recent evaluation, which has been provided to the Parliament in time for consideration of the 2007 bill, shows that overwhelmingly once-only users use the centre. Obviously I do not mean first-time drug users. Those who use the centre will be frequent drug users and some of them will be only occasional drug users, but they tend to use the centre on only one or two occasions.

In other words, it is not, as was suggested to us in 1999, an alternative to the shooting galleries in Kings Cross. Indeed, the centre is better described as a tourist attraction. Many international visitors take the time to visit the drug injecting centre and many young people from the country will visit it. The statistic that it is overwhelmingly once-only drug users who use the centre is telling. In line with remarks made by the Hon. Charlie Lynn, improvements to many of the crime statistics—we have heard figures indicating fewer ambulance call-outs—relate not only to the heroin drought that occurred in that vicinity from around 2002 but also because of the fundamental shift in our drug culture away from heroin use and towards other drugs that are much cheaper, in particular ice and amphetamines. It is a shame that this was not acknowledged in the presentation of the bill. However, I acknowledge the supporters of the bill support it for noble reasons. They believe it saves lives and it assists us in the fight against drugs.

The Hon. Robyn Parker and Mr Ian Cohen typified this approach in their presentations. Because of the hope they have for vulnerable people, I will not criticise the approach they have taken to the bill. However, I do criticise the Government because the bill represents false hope. The injecting room has been open for so long and we are still talking about a trial, not a program. I would have preferred the bill to be presented as a program and a mandate for the injecting centre to continue ad infinitum. For the Government to present the bill to the House yet again as another four-year extension of a trial is an insult to my intelligence and to the intelligence of all members of the House. It is a program; it is not a trial any longer. It is farcical to continue to use the word "trial", as has been said by many previous speakers.

I do not understand why the Government wants to force the bill through the House on this occasion when we all know that we will be back to debate it all over again in 2011—just as we did in 2003. If the Government believes the room is a vital service in Kings Cross, why does it not just leave it there? Why do we have to go through this four-year farce of pretending it is a trial, when clearly it is not? I have searched the evidence supporting a case for the injecting room. I do not believe that the evidence is convincing. It has been claimed that the injecting room has saved 350 lives from overdoses. Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile expressed doubt about that statistic. Mr Ian Cohen's response was, "Well, you prove that it has not saved lives." That is not how the evaluation system works.

Harm minimisation is a valuable strategy. I do not oppose such a strategy, as perhaps other members who oppose this bill do. That is why I wanted to speak on the bill tonight. The needle exchange program has been extremely valuable and other measures that have been implemented through public health have reduced the degree of suffering and the flow-on of other diseases, particularly AIDS and hepatitis C. I support those worthy initiatives. However, I do not believe the injecting room falls into that category. If I were convinced otherwise, I would support it.

As other members have said, to save lives we must address the fundamental drug epidemic that is ruining a generation of young Australians. I do not believe this centre does that. The centre normalises, even glamorises, drugs, and sends the wrong message to young people. In that sense, it may have the opposite effect to that which is intended. Eight years of this injecting room being in operation has not changed the drug culture. The drug epidemic has moved on and intensified into the ice epidemic. This bill is ancient history. It fails to acknowledge that the whole drug culture has changed and we now face new problems. We are no longer in 1999, which is the year that has been snap frozen in time by this legislation. The centre has provided an opportunity to study and learn about the heroin epidemic. For the first time, the drug injecting centre has allowed health practitioners to study drug users and their self-administering of drugs. Such studies have had benefits, particularly in other drug education programs. But those accomplishments, as valuable as they are, are very much in the past.

The drug abuse issue has moved on. As the Hon. Charlie Lynn said, the centre has become institutionalised. The bill is not fighting for a continuance of the study, but rather a continuance of the centre's existence. The bill is not about a trial. I do not understand why the Government continues to pretend that it is. The Government has taken a weak and insipid approach in this legislation, and that typifies its weak and insipid approach to our drug problem. I regard myself as a philosophical Liberal with an open-minded attitude on many issues. But I draw the line on drug abuse in this country. Our approach is dangerous and shameful, particularly in New South Wales. The drug injecting room has become an excuse for inaction in other important areas.
When asked about the drug problem, the Government keeps referring to the numerous pamphlets it has distributed. Members would have heard me interject on many occasions when the Minister for Education and Training has talked about new initiatives arising from the Alcohol Summit and Drug Summit that throwing pamphlets at a problem is not a solution. The Government talks about the drug injecting room, then it puts blame on the Commonwealth and that is it. That is the Government's approach to the problem. As to initiatives in schools, we are still stuck on the same $5 million the Government first allocated in 1995, from memory, when funding equated to the cost of a postage stamp per child. These days such an amount is an insult and barely runs the bureaucracy that administers the school program. The Government's response to the drug problem is to take an insipid approach to a heartbreaking and difficult problem.

Although it may be argued that this centre does no harm, I see it as dangerous and a potential obstacle in the way of better measures that will address the drug epidemic. The centre is sending the wrong message. Worst of all, it is an excuse for the Government to not have a proper drugs policy. As I have said, the Government has not delivered on the high expectations and promises that came out of the 1999 Drug Summit and the 2003 Alcohol Summit. This bill maintains a discredited idea that must be discarded and we need to focus on new approaches and ideas. In 2003 I voted against this legislation and criticised the setting up of the room saying that it was not a trial. A trial has a beginning, a middle, an end and an outcome. I described the bill then as having a buck each way. Today I say it has gone beyond that, and should the bill pass through the Parliament we will be buck-passing. The bill preys upon the good intentions of members such as the Hon. Trevor Khan, who showed great compassion in his speech. I share his compassion for drugs users, but the bill does not deliver any solutions. That is the harsh reality and truth about this legislation.

With a forced Government vote, the bill will pass the House tonight. If all members were given a conscience vote, the bill would probably fail. I am sure there was robust debate in Cabinet as to whether this legislation should be brought before the Parliament again. I am saddened that the fraudulent concept of a 10­year trial is being forced through the House—a concept that will not bring about action but, ironically, will sustain inaction. I urge the Government to revisit the drug epidemic issue more fully rather than perpetuate a drug trial—a trial that has been perpetuated previously on many occasions. I am sickened by the stories I hear in the Parliament and the evidence I see on the street of drug abuse and tragic loss as a result of drug addiction. I am sickened by the Mardi Grass that takes place every year in Nimbin. I am sickened by the deaths on the road, particularly in my region of the North Coast where drug abuse has become part of the culture. I am sick of deaths in public toilets and I am sick of people dying in the gutter—which the Hon. Trevor Khan also referred to. This bill will pass at the expense of those deaths.

The bill normalises and lies about the drug problem. It is an excuse for inaction against the current drug problem faced by the community today. The farce of 2007 is even greater than the farce of 2003. The review provisions in the bill require us to debate this legislation again in four years time for the fourth time. The pathetic and tragic proposition condoned by this bill is a sad reflection on the Government's drugs policies. I make a broader comment and state that the Government's entire legislative program this session is timid. It seeks to fix embarrassing mistakes and it imposes new taxes and charges, but it lacks vision. The resubmission of this bill for a fourth time is indicative of the actions of a moribund government that has run out of ideas. I did not support the legislation in 2003 and I will vote against it again tonight.

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER (Leader of the Opposition) [12.39 a.m.]: I speak on my own behalf on the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill. It is not my intention to be critical of any member but, rather, to be objective, to be conscious of the views expressed by others and to be respectful of those views. However, in doing so I bring to this debate my personal experience of matters concerning the bill and present those as the basis for my decision on how I will vote. I commence my contribution to this debate by congratulating the Hon. Catherine Cusack on her very well-presented argument in explaining her position on this bill. I commend others also for their well-presented expressions of views on the legislation.

I do not believe that, because a member does not support this legislation, he or she therefore is not compassionate toward those who are addicted to drugs and involved in the drug trade. The debate is more about whether this legislation is taking us along the correct pathway to achieving the desired outcome by minimising the number of people who are affected by dangerous drugs and by instituting mechanisms whereby barriers can be placed in the way of the next generation—or any person for that matter—to prevent them from using illegal drugs. Over the past few years this House has heard much debate on the heroin injecting room, or shooting gallery as it has been called. The central point of this debate does not concern the injecting room itself but whether the injecting room has succeeded in its objectives and is therefore is deserving of further support by the Parliament and the people of New South Wales.
We have been told continually by the Government that the core objective of the injecting room is to provide a gateway to assist people to stop taking drugs. However, it has become a means by which people maintain their position in the drug culture—maintain the status quo—just as many in the past have maintained their position in relation to their use of methadone. As the Hon. Catherine Cusack stated, virtually no evidence exists of the injecting room reaching its core objective of providing a gateway to get people off highly addictive drugs. Nothing has been said by the Government on that point during the debate. Much of the debate so far has revolved around the number of lives that have been saved. As Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile rightly points out, how can we measure the success of the centre by statistics? How can we be sure that the figures are correct?

In my view the debate does not concern the ability of medical workers in the injecting room to resuscitate people who are affected by drugs. After four years of operation of the injecting room the debate is more one about whether the centre has lived up to its objective and provides a gateway to enable people to get off drugs once and for all. As I have said, no evidence has been presented by the Government to show that that is the case. The Parliament has been asked for an extension of the trial period. On a previous occasion an extension was granted to the Government because we were told that an extension was required to satisfy the scientific tests or experiments that would determine the success or otherwise of the centre. Although I have maintained a fundamental opposition to the concept, I was relaxed about granting the extension because at that time I believed that it would produce evidence to enable us to determine the success or otherwise of the experiment. I believed that the Parliament would be in a position to draw some conclusi ons on whether the objectives have been achieved by the centre.

Of course, we have nothing of the sort before us. All we have are the usual mantra and rhetoric about the number of lives that have been saved as a result of resuscitation and the excellent health care that is provided by professionals in the injecting centre. Nothing indicates that we have had significant referrals from the injecting centre to assist long-term users of drugs to beat their addiction. The Hon. Catherine Cusack referred to information of which I was not aware. She told the House that many users are just one-time or two-time users at the injecting centre. It is fair to say that those people are now somewhere else in the system and are possibly still addicted to one form of drug or another. That raises questions about the success or otherwise of attracting people to a safe area that is meant to be a gateway to curing addiction. If people use the centre on only one or two occasions and go elsewhere to use their drugs, it seems that the centre has not been able to achieve its objective.

Emotive arguments advanced in support of retention of the centre have suggested that the centre could be assisting one of us, a loved one or a family member. But it is important to understand more often than not those who use the heroin injecting centre to take amphetamines, heroin or other drugs are involved in serious assaults to obtain money to pay for their drug addiction. The victims and the families of victims of such assaults are traumatised because of the violence associated with such assaults. Sadly from time to time we hear of someone who has been killed by a person who was stealing money to satisfy their craving for drugs. We hear of someone's innocent loved one, someone's innocent child, being killed, maimed or assaulted by someone who is driven by drug addiction to commit serious criminal offences. For many years I was involved with people who had been methadone users. When methadone users and heroin users appear before the courts, they assure the sentencing judge or magistrate that, having been so heavily affected by drugs, they want to get off drugs and will do so if they are given one more chance. And it is no surprise that they spin the very same line before a different judge or magistrate at their next court appearance for drug-related offences.

Most members of Parliament have lost count of the number of times they have heard about people becoming the victims of crime as a result of someone trying to satisfy their craving for methadone or heroin. Perpetuation of the myth that somehow the attendance by drug addicts at the methadone clinic will provide a gateway to curing drug addiction fails to take into account the pre-eminent requisite for any person who goes to the injecting centre, the Salvation Army, the Wesley Mission or any other organisation providing treatment for drug addiction: the person must have a desire to cure himself or herself of their addiction. Is not as simple as drug addicted person standing before the Drug Court and declaring that they want to get off drugs. The person must take the first step; he or she must want to beat the addiction. Although drug addiction is probably the most devastating addiction of all, the first step to curing the addiction is similar to the first step taken by those addicted to alcohol or cigarettes: the person must sincerely want to give up drugs and not continue to use the same spin at repeated court appearances to avoid the predicament of penalty.

The Hon. Catherine Cusack correctly referred to changes in culture and the switch from heroin to amphetamine. Many users of amphetamine, methamphetamine and ice regard heroin as a dirty drug of the 1970s and 1980s—a drug that was used by the old scraggies who used to hang out at the Cross or in the park. Many young drug users think that methamphetamine is okay; that it has been made socially acceptable; that street names like ice make it trendy. That is the future challenge.
Of course, we hear nothing from the Government about this. The Hon. Catherine Cusack is correct in recognising the shift towards more domestic drug production and a home-grown or home-baked product. Much of that relates to the significant improvements in the efforts of customs authorities both here and overseas. There has been a significant move towards amphetamines by outlaw motorcycle gangs, who produce drugs within their network. Generally speaking, they do not bring in drug users from the outside as couriers because they are seen as weak links in the organisational structure. They maintain the drug production and distribution within their organisation. These highly organised outfits have a job security scheme to provide for dependents if a husband or partner is arrested for a drug-related crime and sent to jail for a considerable period. Dependents, whether they be partners or children, are looked after by the organisation.

The other point that is not lost on me is that many of the people involved in the drug trade do not want to take their chances travelling into South-East Asia to access drugs because the ramifications of being caught are far too serious. For that reason they have focused primarily on the domestic, home-grown product of methamphetamine, which is far easier and cheaper to produce, and which is equally addictive as crack cocaine or heroin was seen to be in the 1970s and 1980s. Australian heroin was always far stronger than the heroin produced in the United States and other western nations because it was not as severely cut in the production process as the European, American and British heroin. As a result, it was highly addictive. As I said, the move has been away from heroin towards locally produced drugs.

Mention was made of Mark Murdoch, the local area commander in Kings Cross. I have known him for nearly 30 years and I have a great deal of respect for him. I note that some quotes were attributed to him, and I am not in a position to test to their veracity. However, like a number of other honourable members, I have been there and I know that the place is an absolute mess. Anyone who suggests otherwise simply has no understanding of what is taking place in the central business district. I use that term cautiously because there is very little business going on in the area ¾ that is, legitimate business or business that would be acceptable to the wider community. Any suggestion that there is a business boom in the area is ridiculous.

Honourable members should visit the area and have a look at what is going on. However, they should not go on the organised tour that no doubt members of the Government or some of the bureaucrats would be more than happy to conduct, showing everything nice and clean and welcoming with happy, smiling faces at the gallery. They should go unaccompanied and unannounced; they should go to the street behind the shooting gallery and look at the coffee cups strewn all over the place and have a sniff. They should look at the deserted shops and what has happened over the past few years in Kings Cross.

The Hon. Amanda Fazio: That is all Clover Moore's fault.

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: It interesting that the Hon. Amanda Fazio blames Clover Moore. She should take time to go there and speak to the last few remaining shopkeepers and ask them for their views. They do have things to say about Clover Moore, but they pale into insignificance compared with what they have to say about the honourable member and her mob. They have the Government well and truly in the crosshairs because of this legislation. As honourable members know, I have worked on the streets in an undercover capacity and I have seen what has happened. Over the past 10 to 15 years the changes to the environment of Kings Cross have been remarkable. I worked there and mixed with drug addicts and witnessed illegal activities; I saw it first-hand.

Years ago Kings Cross was renowned for a number of things. I am talking not about the sleaze but about the boutique clothing and jewellery shops, the banks and food outlets. The fruit and vegetable markets in the main street of Kings Cross outside the Lido—one of the recognised brothels in the area—were outstanding. We used to buy many legal, socially acceptable products, but those shops are all gone. What used to hide the sleaze and the drug culture that existed there has moved away. All that is left to see are the empty shops, backpackers' accommodation and the very small number of shops that rely on the passing trade. There is far from a real estate boom in the area.

It has also been suggested that people are no longer roaming the streets as a result of the establishment of the shooting gallery. That is completely false. The addicts walk in through the front door, which is innocuous with its grey windows, and come out the back door, usually armed with a cup of coffee with up to six teaspoons of sugar to keep them rolling. They go back onto the streets and hang around; they continue to move around the streets affected by the drug they have just injected. They have not overdosed, but they are still affected by the drug. They do not inject drugs to return them to normality; they inject drugs so that they can feel high or comfortable. The suggestion that when they come out of the shooting gallery they get on a bus or take a taxi to work or outside the area in many instances is false. They still hang around the area and can be seen there, particularly in the mornings and late in the afternoon.

The Hon. Ian Cohen spoke about his knowledge of drug use in the Sutherland shire as an adolescent growing up in Cronulla and the death of a close friend who died as a result of a heroin injection. The honourable member suggested it would not have happened if there had been a safe injecting room. The suggestion that flows from that is that there should be more injecting rooms. He also cited Nimbin and other places with a high incidence of drug use. I ask the honourable member to show me a suburb that does not have drugs use of this nature. There would not be a suburb that would not have some form of drug use. How does one determine that the level of use is high? Does it relate to the number of people using or the number of overdoses and ambulances call outs? Bondi has traditionally had a problem with heroin and amphetamines and according to the police drug use is rife in the eastern suburbs.

Honourable members should consider the impact on the local shopping centre of the establishment of the Long Jetty methadone clinic. It was turned into a ghost town and as soon as the Government moved the clinic to the local hospital businesses began to thrive. The Entrance, Port Stephens, Liverpool and Armidale all have recognised drug problems. I am not suggesting that these are the only towns or suburbs with a problem; every suburb would have a problem.

The Greens propose that injecting rooms be spread through suburbs that are determined to have high drug usage. That frightens me. I do not want places such as Bondi, The Entrance, Port Stephens, Liverpool or Armidale, to name a few, to have their own injecting centres. What is being played out on the streets of Kings Cross will be played out in those areas as well. The Greens need to reconsider their policy in relation to injecting rooms and make a decision that is in the best interests of the community. They should say no. The Kings Cross experiment has not met its objective, which is to provide a gateway. Therefore, the Greens should not suggest that other communities be subjected to what has occurred in and around Kings Cross.

Kings Cross is located within five kilometres of the Sydney central business district. Some of its real estate is worth an absolute fortune, but the place is a cancerous sore. There is no other way to describe how Kings Cross looks. Anyone who suggests that somehow everything is hunky dory there, and that the Kings Cross shooting gallery is not having an effect on the community, is being unrealistic. As I said earlier, one need only go there uninvited, sit down, have a good look around and talk to some of the businesspeople there to find out what it is really like. As members have probably determined, I am opposed to the extension of the trial of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre.

When we talked about this some years ago, I said that the trial of the injecting centre was a modern form of an extension of methadone treatment. In my years as a detective I learned that methadone was a failure. I became sick and tired of talking to people who had committed crimes—break and enters, armed robberies, stealing from persons, or home invasions, one offence after another. At about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, mid­way through an interview, they would often say, "Look, I have to go to the methadone unit at Long Jetty to get my methadone." We had been told that methadone would get people off drugs. It did not; it just maintained the status quo. As I said earlier, it did not satisfy the first criteria, that is, that people wanted to get off heroin. When they eventually appeared before a court methadone simply provided them with an excuse for their criminality. They would say, "I'm sorry, I'm addicted to this drug. I won't do it again." Unfortunately, time and time again they reappeared before the court. I am happy to oppose the bill. Years ago I thought the trial was a failure. Until such time as the Government proves otherwise—and I do not believe it can—it will continue to fail.

The Hon. DON HARWIN [1.02 a.m.]: For seven years beginning in the early 1990s I lived within three kilometres of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Kings Cross, and I certainly wanted the trial to succeed. During those seven years I experienced the drug problem in the area from many perspectives. My home was burgled three times. I was bashed in the street, almost certainly by people who wanted money for drugs. Because of a particular difficulty I had with the property I owned at the time—I had a night carter's lane that I could not secure—I had direct experience of people using my back yard for injecting, prior to the opening of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre.

Despite coming from a family background which I would characterise as one with zero tolerance for drugs and despite having lived in that area, when I came into Parliament House to attend the Drug Summit, which was practically my first experience as a member of this place, I found it confronting. However, at that time I supported the trial of the injecting centre, because I wanted it to succeed. In 2001, when I again had a free vote, I supported a short continuation of the centre to enable a proper evaluation to be completed. In 2003 I voted against the trial, and I will vote against the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill 2007. Evaluations have consistently shown that the trial has not met the objectives that those at the Drug Summit had high hopes it would meet.

I have read closely the evaluation reports as well as other material sent to honourable members. The latest evaluation report certainly makes it clear that the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre has not been a gateway to further treatment. Basically we are being asked to sanction a continuation of a program that will effectively cost $25 million over 12 years. The public health outcomes from that $25 million trial have not really been demonstrated. The report cannot say definitively that the public injecting problem has been reduced by the operation of the centre. A number of members have touched on this issue. As I foreshadowed in my remarks in 2001, the heroin drought has rendered almost impossible a proper evaluation of the success or otherwise of the injecting centre's objective of reducing the public injecting problem.

Claims made in this debate and elsewhere in that respect are hard to validate and hard for me to rely on as support for a continuation of the trial. I cannot do so. I am greatly concerned about material that has emerged as a result of freedom of information requests about the operation of the centre. The material shows a massive decline during 2006 in the number of people who inject heroin in the centre and an alarming increase in the number of people who are injecting ice there. Injecting any drug is dangerous, but injecting heroin is quite different from injecting ice. It has often been said that it is possible to maintain someone on heroin for a long time and that a heroin addict who has a maintenance dose can lead an almost normal life.

Ice is completely different. I am concerned that the injecting room is a long way from where we envisaged it would be when we gave support to the trial eight years ago. Between 15 and 20 years ago, when I was in my teens and early twenties, people used to say that marijuana was less harmful than cigarettes. We now know how wrong that was. We are only just beginning to understand how damaging ice will be in the long term, but we know that its effect can be absolutely catastrophic. I am very concerned about the increasing use of ice at the injecting room. In summary, I am disappointed that the Government does not have the courage to declare the injecting room a success. If the Government were to do that, it would be extending this model to other parts of the State where there are serious problems with public injecting.

I disagree with some of the remarks made earlier in the debate about the characterisation of Kings Cross. It is clear that Kings Cross is rapidly changing. One simply has to look at the development applications that have been lodged for the precinct to realise the extent to which it is an area under rapid transformation. That brings me to the provision regarding the centre's early closure. In a sense, the Government does not have the courage to admit that the trial has been a failure, and yet it has included the provision. At present the injecting centre is running at, in round figures, 70 per cent capacity. If it drops to about 50 per cent the Government will close the centre completely. As other speakers in the debate have said, not only has the nature of the drug problem changed; the clientele of the injecting centre has moved on as well. Kings Cross is a very different place, and that is one of the reasons why the centre is running at only 70 per cent capacity.

While some members have said that we will come back in four years time to debate all over again an extension of the trial, I believe that the centre will not last for another four years, because Kings Cross is changing so rapidly. My prediction is that the centre will be closed within the next four years, simply because the drug problem has changed and the clientele has moved on. If the Government regarded the centre as a success it might consider establishing it somewhere such as in Caroline Lane in Redfern, where there is a serious drug problem. But it is not investigating that, and it will not do so, because the amount of money involved in doing that would not deliver the required public health outcomes.

The bill will pass tonight. The Government supports it and the Greens have indicated their support for it, which means that it will pass through the House. My prediction is that this will be the last time we will deal with the issue. The trial, sadly—I mean that sincerely, because I had high hopes for it, as did others, including a number of my friends who put time into it—has not met its objectives and I believe that the centre will be closed and this will be the last time this House will deal with the issue.

Dr JOHN KAYE [1.13 a.m.]: I support the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill 2007 and wish largely to echo the comments of Ms Lee Rhiannon and Mr Ian Cohen. First I congratulate all those who were responsible for creating the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre. Regardless of one's opinion of it, one must accept that those people were motivated by the very best of intentions: to save lives. I also congratulate those who operate the centre. Having met a few of them and spoken to them about what they do through the day and how they work, one cannot but be impressed by what they have done.
The evidence on the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre is absolutely clear: lives have been saved. About 350 people who are alive today would not otherwise be alive. At that point this debate ought to end. Once you have a scheme that saves lives it is difficult to say anything else about it. We need to value lives, and we do value lives. Regardless of whether they are people who use drugs or people who have other aspects of their lives that need to be addressed, we should value their lives, and we do value their lives.

The benefits of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre go on. There is no doubt that there is reduced public injecting, which is both an amenity issue and a safety issue, and the streets are safer. The spread of blood-borne diseases, including HIV-Aids and hepatitis C, has been curtailed. Australia has an enviable record in controlling the spread of those diseases, and the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre has played a role in that.

The injecting centre stands at the crossroads of two very different views on how we should deal with the scourge of drugs in our society. One view involves prohibition, or zero tolerance, prosecuted through a war on drugs: the idea is that governments can control the use of drugs and the damage done by them by introducing ever-tougher laws. Unfortunately for those who support that concept, the war on drugs has been a massive failure. It has turned out to be a war on drug users, who are in many respects the victims of drugs rather than the perpetrators of the crime of drug use. The war on drugs has also been a failure because it has been expensive for our society, it has been expensive for the families of those who are addicted to drugs, and it has been expensive in terms of the damage it has done to the police force, law enforcement, and society in general. The war on drugs has also failed to produce a safer society.

As many speakers have observed, Australia is still awash with illegal and legal drugs. However, no amount of war on drugs seems to be able to address that. When we clamp down on heroin we create an increased use of methamphetamines. There is a fantasy idea encapsulated in the name of an organisation that many members have referred to tonight, the concept of a drugs-free Australia. I would like those who are working towards a drugs-free Australia to go to their local hotel or RSL club and say to the patrons there, "I am sorry, you cannot have your beer, you cannot have your wine, and you cannot have your spirits." To talk about drugs and a drugs-free Australia and not recognise that alcohol is responsible for the overwhelming amount of damage done by drugs in Australia—economic, social and personal—is to ignore the major component of the drugs issue within Australia.

The second view at the crossroads of which the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre stands is the one based on harm minimisation, which I would claim is evidence based. It focuses on the harm done by drugs and seeks ways to reduce that harm. It recognises that prohibition has been a failure. It recognises that people will and do use drugs, and it recognises that we as a society can do best by doing the things that will reduce the damage done by those drugs. The Medically Supervised Injecting Centre has been a successful expression of the harm minimisation view, and the Greens support its continued presence as envisaged by the bill.

I conclude by examining one argument that I find particularly problematic, that if we continue with a harm minimisation approach, if we continue with the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, we are sending the wrong message to our young people—that somehow or other by having a medically supervised injecting centre that saves lives, that takes addicts off the street, it sends the wrong message. There are three reasons that the argument is wrong. First, there is absolutely no evidence to support that view. I have not seen a single piece of evidence that says that a medically supervised injecting centre creates a desire among young people to use heroin. Indeed, exactly the opposite applies. A medically supervised injecting centre—the name, the style and the clinical nature of it—is a total turn-off to young people who contemplate experimenting with injectable drugs, precisely because it stops it from being forbidden fruit. Placing it into a hard, cold clinical environment takes away a big component of the attraction that exists for young people.

It has been argued that the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre will send the wrong message and that extreme judgmental attitudes and prohibitions somehow or other will drive young people away from using drugs. I wish it were true, but it is not. To the contrary, all that it does is to create the forbidden fruit that makes young people want to experiment with drugs. So, far from sending the wrong message, the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre sends a good message—that is, that we, as a society, care for all members of our community, regardless of what drugs they use or what trouble they find themselves in. We, as a society, will reach out our hand to them, help them to survive, help them to find time to assess their habits and their use of substances, and possibly find a better way. I commend the bill to the House.

The Hon DUNCAN GAY (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [1.20 a.m.]: My Nationals colleagues and I oppose this bill. People who dislike our Prime Minister—and I am not one of them—
The Hon. Amanda Fazio: There are a lot that would.

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: There are not that many. Those people said that the Prime Minister's stance on Tampa should be condemned. They referred to it in a derogatory way by stating that it was the Prime Minister's Tampa moment. Bob Carr, the former Premier of New South Wales, faced a certain situation in the election immediately preceding the Drug Summit. Suddenly the light bulb went on and he decided to hold a summit—a key plank in the final weeks of the election campaign. Immediately after the election we rolled into that Drug Summit.

Earlier the Hon. Don Harwin said it was one of the first occasions on which he entered the Parliament. He might not have known, but long-serving members who had been members of committees such as the Standing Committee on Social Issues and others met people involved in the drug networks and knew that the audience was handpicked. The greatest proportion of that audience was heading in one direction. The Government threw in people such as Major Watters and others to provide colour and movement.

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: And ridiculed him.

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: And it ridiculed him. However, it would never have got the numbers. The Leader of the Government in this House, one of the key architects of the Drug Summit, has just comes into the Chamber. The Medically Supervised Injecting Centre—the key issue on which the Government hung its hat and which came out of the Drug Summit—was the centrepiece of that summit. The Medically Supervised Injecting Centre trial was extended and we have now been asked to extend it again.

If the trial had been successful in the first place the Government would not have sought a further extension. The trial would have been stopped and injecting rooms would have been located in Kings Cross and in other areas. We can be thankful that the first trial was a failure and that we do not have a preponderance of injecting rooms across the State. The Government is now asking for a third injecting room trial. If the first trial had been successful the Government would now be asking us to legalise injecting rooms and locate them everywhere.

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: The Greens will.

The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: The Greens will. Many people are keen to locate these injecting rooms in communities other than those in which they live. I spend part of my time in an inner city suburb of Sydney that one of my colleagues suggested tonight would be a good place for an injecting room. The families who live in the area that the Government has been trying to identify as a good site for an injecting room, the young couple with four children who live beside the site in Redfern where the Government wants to locate an injecting room, the family that lives next door to them, the family that lives two doors down, and shopkeepers in Kings Cross are not that pleased about it.

If the injecting room had proved successful we would be passing legislation to enable it to go ahead. It has not been successful and the Government cannot face the fact that it has a disaster on its hands. It cannot admit that the key thing it set out to achieve at the Drug Summit has been a failure. So we now have a further trial on our hands. That is why I oppose the bill.

Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [1.26 a.m.]: The Christian Democratic Party opposes the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill 2007. I commend Reverend the Hon. Dr Gordon Moyes for his earlier speech. We appear to be on a merry-go-round: once again we are debating the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, which I still refer to as a shooting gallery. That is the way in which addicts refer to the place in which they shoot up heroin and other drugs. The object of this bill is to amend the principal Act:

(a) to extend the trial period so that it will finish on 31 October 2011, and

(b) to require a review of the economic viability of a licensed injecting centre in certain circumstances.

An usual aspect—perhaps the only positive part of the bill—is the inclusion of a review of the economic viability of a licensed injecting centre if service levels at the centre drop below 75 per cent of the level set in the new licence conditions. Responsible authorities will be entitled to revoke the licence if they are of the view that it is no longer economically viable. It is strange that only the economic viability of such a health facility is being judged and not whether it is medically viable or solving any drug problems. Is this a fallback situation to give the Government an opportunity to close the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre solely for economic reasons? If that is the case, so be it.

The Government referred to this as a trial because of the strong criticism it received from the International Narcotics Board for introducing this whole concept. I do not think such a reference has reduced criticism; that body has still been critical of the Kings Cross injecting room. I believe that the original purpose of this trial was to allay community concern, but it is an ongoing trial. It is the view of Dr John Kaye and other members that the Kings Cross injecting room has no effect on the war on drugs. I believe that it does: it sends a false message to members of the community and to young people that the Government is facilitating the injecting of a drug that is harmful and illegal.

Such a contradictory message undermines all the other things that the Government is doing to get young people off drugs. Earlier the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the Drug Summit. I agree with him that the Drug Summit was stacked: a number of rational speakers such as Major Brian Watters and I were ridiculed by a number of delegates and by many in the audience. That showed a bias in the delegates that were selected to attend the Drug Summit and a collusion to come to certain decisions.

I still believe there was probably greater support on Labor's left wing for an injecting room than on the right wing. During the Drug Summit there was a strong push to approve a motion to establish five injecting rooms in Sydney. It seemed that would be going overboard and there would be much criticism. To satisfy the Labor left wing the Labor Government decided to compromise and have just one. The Labor Government ended up being stuck with it. I believe many members of the Labor Government are still not happy with the injecting room. They consider it to be a lemon and they would get rid of it if they could. They think that the economic evaluation could be a way to close it down.

As honourable members know, I have consistently opposed the concept of the injecting room. I have supported the approach of the Swedish Government. Some honourable members are critical of the term "drug­free". Sweden followed the Green party policies, was very liberal with its drug policies and legalised drugs. Because of its soft approach to drugs Sweden had massive social problems. At one stage the situation became so serious that all political parties, including the Green party, acknowledged that the drug policies had been a failure. All the As honourable members know, I have consistently opposed the concept of the injecting room. I have supported the approach of the Swedish Government. Some honourable members are critical of the term "drug­free". Sweden followed the Green party policies, was very liberal with its drug policies and legalised drugs. Because of its soft approach to drugs Sweden had massive social problems. At one stage the situation became so serious that all political parties, including the Green party, acknowledged that the drug policies had been a failure. All the parties came together and resolved to make Sweden drug-free with a national policy. In 2000 I spent some time in Sweden on a tour studying its drug-free program. The Swedish Government recognised that in adopting a liberal drug policy it had gone so far in the wrong direction it had to re-educate the whole society—teachers, police officers, politicians and all the leadership groups in the community—to convince them to change from a permissive attitude to a drug-free policy.

It was a remarkable success. Drug use rates dropped from the high levels we have in Australia—around 30 per cent—down to 3 per cent, and they gradually edged back to 9 per cent. The Government said it thought it had won the war and relaxed its efforts, but it did not realise it had to re-educate every generation and had to keep the motivation going for a drug-free society for each generation. If the Government relaxed, positive attitudes towards a drug-free society would start to slide backwards.

In Sydney Reverend Richard Raymond was in charge of the Wayside Chapel. He was very keen to provide an injecting facility and announced there would be a facility at the Wayside Chapel for injecting heroin. I knew that this was against the law so I contacted the police and the facility was closed down. The Government realised the only way such a facility could operate would be by legislation: the law would have to be changed because there was a two-year penalty for anyone assisting someone to inject a drug such as heroin, because it was against the law. That was why the initial bill was introduced to set up the injecting room.

I was shocked when it was announced that the injecting room would commence and would be run by the Catholic Sisters of Charity. I waited for some response by Cardinal Clancy but, as far as I am aware, he never issued a statement and he has been silent on the matter. I thought the only thing I could do was write to Pope John Paul, whom I met on two occasions in Rome. I wrote to the Vatican and asked whether it was aware the Sisters of Charity would be running an injecting room in Sydney. Within a few days a directive came to the Sisters of Charity ordering them not to be involved in the injecting room and to withdraw from the project. Sadly, the Uniting Church, of which I was a Minister at the time, stepped into the gap and said it would run the injecting room, particularly under the leadership of Reverend Harry Herbert, whose policies on drugs I totally disagree with. Reverend Herbert has a very different attitude from most clergy towards drugs. He has even advocated the decriminalisation of marijuana. He was quite happy to use his efforts and his department of the Uniting Church to run the injecting room, which it does to this very day.
As I travelled around the Uniting Churches I found no support for this decision. In fact, there was great embarrassment that members of their denomination were running an injecting room. It was not a popular decision within the parishes. I proved that by challenging Reverend Harry Herbert to have a referendum of the parishes of the Uniting Church so they could vote on whether the Uniting Church should be involved. He would not do that. He knew that if he did there would be an overwhelming rejection of the Uniting Church being involved. The Uniting Church would not let the grass roots have any say in that decision made by Reverend Harry Herbert and his department.

I undertook a study tour with my wife, which we called The Drug Epidemic and Solutions, to find out what was happening worldwide. We visited the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Sweden, Switzerland, Egypt, Bulgaria, Taiwan and Singapore. I particularly wanted to see what Asian nations were doing and how their policies differed from those of Western nations. I deliberately picked that range of nations. To sum it up, two nations have adopted almost opposite policies: Switzerland and Sweden. Sweden had tried the permissive approach, reversed it and then had a drug-free nation approach. Switzerland went in the opposite direction and is still going in that wrong direction.

I was quite shocked when I went to Zurich and visited the consumer rooms—they do not call them injecting rooms; they call them consumer rooms. There are about six rooms where people can not only bring their own heroin and have it injected; they can also be supplied with heroin. When I questioned the police and the authorities in Zurich City Council and read its policy documents it became very clear that they had a simple reason for allowing the consumer rooms to operate. They said that Switzerland is totally dependent upon tourism and the tourists get upset when they see young people injecting heroin. There was a big park where some thousands of drug addicts used to converge and use drugs. Many of them came to Switzerland from other nations because of its permissive policies. Consumer rooms were set up to get the drug addicts off the streets. The policy had nothing to do with rehabilitation and reducing the harmfulness of heroin; it was simply a policy so that tourists travelling to Switzerland would never see drug addicts.

As soon as the police identified an addict on the streets that person would be collected and delivered to a consumer room, where he or she could be completely doped up. It would not affect the tourist trade because people would not be lying in the gutters and so on. To me that was a self-centred policy to simply protect the reputation of the city and the country. They did not care about a person's lifetime addiction. Young people were virtually being put into a position where they would be addicts for the rest of their lives. There was even a discussion about drug addict villages, where addicts could go when they reached middle age and older. They could live in a community and have drugs as drug-addicted old-age pensioners. What kind of lives would those people lead?

I acknowledge that, in spite of its permissive drug injecting room policy, the Government is moving slowly in the direction of the Swedish model. In Sweden the police take anyone who is identified as having a drug problem to an assessment centre run by social workers. They make an assessment as to the seriousness of the addiction. Addicts are then taken to a drug court, which has the power to order them into compulsory rehabilitation programs that have proved extremely successful. Some people claim that people cannot be forced into drug rehabilitation programs, but that is the basis of the Swedish policy. Compulsive drug rehabilitation programs work. I know because I visited the centres and talked to addicts.

I have commended the Government previously for establishing the Drug Court—which is a step in the right direction—and, more recently, the Nepean Hospital trial of coercive treatment of serious drug addicts. Those projects are nibbling at the Swedish solution, and I am sure they will be successful. The Drug Court has already proved to be a success and I am sure that the Nepean Hospital trial will achieve good results. The long­term success of such programs depends on the people who run them. They must have special qualifications, including a caring attitude. The Swedish program succeeded mainly because the social workers who ran the program were selected carefully. They identified with the drug addicts and cared for them. The young male and female nurses and social workers were like brothers and sisters to the addicts in their care. They spent nights with addicts who were suffering withdrawal. I was most impressed with their commitment. That was a key part of the program and the reason that so many drug addicts were rehabilitated successfully.

Other members have provided evidence of the failure of the injecting room. The Government had four objectives for the centre: to decrease the number of overdose deaths, to provide a gateway to treatment, to reduce the number of discarded needles and discourage users from injecting in public places, and to help reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. I believe the injecting room has failed on all counts. Diseases such as HIV and hepatitis are prevalent in the areas surrounding Kings Cross. For example, the eastern suburbs health region has an extremely high level of HIV and hepatitis infections. So the Government cannot claim that the injecting room has been a success.

I will not repeat arguments that other honourable members have made already in this debate. I simply put on record my opposition to the injecting room. A few months ago I had a meeting outside the injecting room with a number of ex-drug addicts who are associated with an organisation called Victory Outreach International. It is a worldwide organisation comprising thousands of ex-drug addicts who have been cured and who have compassion for other addicts. They are establishing rehabilitation centres around the world. There is one in the Fairfield area of Sydney, one in Brisbane and another in Melbourne. The organisation is similar to We Help Ourselves in that drug addicts are helped by ex-drug addicts who empathise with their problems.

The young men and women from Victory Outreach International told me they would happily volunteer to run the injecting room as a rehabilitation centre. The Government could save millions of dollars if it made the courageous decision to keep the facility open not as an injecting room but as a rehabilitation centre. The young ex-drug addicts could meet addicts on the street, build a relationship with them, take them back to the rehabilitation centre, give them moral support and help them to get off drugs. Addicts could then move from the rehabilitation centre to a residential program at Fairfield and elsewhere. Drug rehabilitation does not happen overnight; it takes months for a drug addict to get clean. I encourage the Government to have faith and trust. I urge it to turn the Kings Cross shooting gallery into a rehabilitation centre run by ex-drug addict volunteers. I oppose the bill and call for the establishment of a rehabilitation centre in Kings Cross.

The Hon. GREG DONNELLY [1.45 a.m.]: The Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill is a Government-sponsored bill and, as a representative of the Government in this House, I will support it. I do so, however, with a sense of unease and anxiety. Those who know about my involvement in the Australian Labor Party will be aware that I have argued—obviously unsuccessfully—the No case with respect to illegal drug injecting rooms. My advocacy against them goes back to the 1990s, when I served on the Australian Labor Party New South Wales Branch Health Policy Committee. As I have indicated that I am supporting the bill I do not believe it is appropriate for me to take up the time of the House detailing reasons why I am anxious about doing so. I confirm that I share some of the concerns expressed by other speakers in this debate.

I will conclude my remarks with a small anecdote. In March this year I represented the Minister for Health at the Phoenix Unit Reunion Dinner at Forestville. The Phoenix Unit is a 28-day drug and alcohol rehabilitation unit located at Manly Hospital. The unit has been operating for 14 years, and the annual reunion dinner is a celebration of the recovery of clients who attended the unit. About 130 people were at the function. I spent the evening until about 10.00 p.m. speaking with people who had passed through the rehabilitation program or who were currently enrolled in it. I was also fortunate at dinner to sit across the table from Dr Stephen Jurd, the founder of the Phoenix Unit.

What struck me in all the conversations I had was that, more than anything, in their heart of hearts, those who had an addiction knew that it was something they had to overcome themselves; nobody could do it for them. They also understood that a person cannot be a little bit addicted. Each individual knew that tomorrow could be another day when they remained clean or, alternatively, they could slide back into their addiction—a dreadful scenario. For them all it was a matter of one day at a time. Despite their human frailty—the temptation—they picked themselves up when they fell down. They all knew that there was only one way forward.

I sincerely hope that as a Government we are able to support comprehensive rehabilitation programs like that offered by the Phoenix Unit at Manly Hospital and offer them not just to those who have a illicit drug addiction problem in and around Kings Cross but across the State. It is through such programs that the lives of individuals are truly changed and that the addiction and human misery associated with it are put behind them. As a Government, we must stand by these people and help them get out of the living hell that drug addiction has turned their lives into. They deserve no less.

Ms SYLVIA HALE [1.49 a.m.]: During my four years in this place I have been dismayed to watch a Labor Government undoing so much progressive legislation in a whole variety of areas. It has changed planning laws, undermined key human rights, reversed of the onus of proof, disposed of public assets, changed laws on brothels, and proposed desalinisation plants. This Government has a record of retreating from progressive social measures. Indeed, in the area of addiction the Government has passed bogus legislation with respect to the introduction of smoke-free areas in pubs and clubs. In the undoing of progressive legislation the Government has been supported, generally to the hilt, by its Opposition partners.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind the Hon. Charlie Lynn that all interjections are disorderly and invite a response. He should desist.

Ms SYLVIA HALE: I am pleased that for the moment the Government has chosen to stand firm on this issue because no-one can deny that the exchange of needles and injections in dirty conditions in furtive back lanes has resulted in harm and death from AIDS, hepatitis C and other infections. It is bad enough that people should be addicted to drugs; it is worse that the conditions that facilitate the condition increase the chances of people dying or suffering accidental harm.

It is irrelevant that the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre is not operating at full capacity. The fact that it is operating and is providing clean, hygienic facilities for some addicts is justification enough for its existence. However, I am disturbed that by focusing on its economic viability rather than on its record of minimising harm the Government may be laying the basis for backing away from a genuinely positive initiative that has saved people's lives. Together with my Greens colleagues I am pleased to support the bill.

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE (Parliamentary Secretary) [1.51 a.m.], in reply: I thank honourable members for their considered contributions to the debate on the Drug Summit Legislative Response Amendment (Trial Period Extension) Bill 2007. I do not intend to respond to every issue raised but a number of members have asked the Government to respond to certain matters and I shall do so. Basically, the purpose of the bill is to continue to trial the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre for a further four years so that the trial will conclude on 31 October 2011. This will enable the centre to continue providing a service for a group of marginalised long-term drug users with significant health and social problems who have either failed drug treatment or never sought treatment.

The bill set out clear parameters for the continuation of the trial. For the first time they include a provision that if the average number of client visits at the centre falls to 75 per cent of current levels there will be a review of the need for the centre and its economic viability to determine whether the licence should be revoked. Ms Lee Rhiannon asked about this and I can confirm that it is not a condition of the licence specifically and it does not mean automatic closure. However, it will trigger the need for a review if the level of use drops.

The independent evaluators have provided considerable evidence to show that the centre is meeting the Government's objectives. As there has been considerable debate about the evidence, I shall place some of that on the record. The federally funded National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research has undertaken systematic research into the operation of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre from its inception in 2001. Its latest findings were released in June of this year and all its reports are publicly available on the web.

Contrary to the material circulated to members by Drug Free Australia, which is based on the distortion of outdated evidence, the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research has concluded that the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre has been successful in reaching long-term drug users, public and high frequency injectors, homeless injecting drug users and those engaged in sex work. It has provided nearly half of all registered clients with injecting and vein care advice, an important achievement as recent studies show that poor injecting technique is independently associated with syringe sharing and HIV and hepatitis C infection. It has acted as a gateway to drug treatment by providing one in ten clients—11 per cent—with a referral to drug treatment in the first five years of operation. It has targeted those clients at highest risk of drug-related mortality and morbidity for referrals to drug treatment. It has targeted, via the brokerage referral scheme, particularly marginalised and at risk injecting drug users, including those in unstable accommodation, resulting in 84 per cent of clients attending the referred service. It has increased drug treatment referral rates with the introduction of a case referral coordination position. It has facilitated the uptake of drug treatment among treatment naive injecting drug users, with almost a third of all drug treatment referrals made to clients with no previous history of drug treatment; and potenti ally it has averted up to 234,000 public injections in five years through the provision of an accessible and safe injecting environment.

I turn now to matters raised by honourable members. With respect to breaches of international drug treaties and conventions, the Government believes that the centre complies with Australia's international treaty obligations. The Government obtained legal advice to this effect prior to the opening of the centre, and its most recent legal advice is that continuing the trial at the centre will not be in breach of any international treaties. It is important to note that the report of the 2002 United Nations Office of Drug Control concluded:

It would be difficult to assert that, in established drug injection rooms it is the intent of parties to actually incite or induce the illicit use of drugs … or even more so … to be associated with, aid, abet or facilitate the possession of drugs.

Honourable members mentioned referrals. Independent evaluation report No. 3 of March 2007 found:

MSIC provided referrals to treatment for drug dependence to 11% of clients. The more frequent attendees at the centre were more likely to be referred for treatment and take up the referral.

It is important to note that drug treatment referrals from the centre are made to a range of facilities including Odyssey House and the Salvation Army. In reply to whether there is a honey pot effect on crime and drug use in the Kings Cross area, there is no evidence from the independent evaluation that the centre has had the effect of drawing drug users and dealers into the local area or caused any increase in local property or drug-related crime. On 21 December 2006 the Director of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reported there was no evidence that the centre has had an adverse impact on drug-related crime. This is supported by the fact that, as similar to downward long-term crime trends statewide, the independent evaluation reported that crime trends have also gone down in Kings Cross.

In reply to Reverend the Hon. Dr Gordon Moyes, trained medical staff at the centre closely supervise clients and supervise the substances being used. People using the centre are asked what drug they intend to use and whether they have used any substance in the past 24 hours. More important, intoxication is one of the criteria for exclusion from the centre. Far from encouraging dangerous experimentation, the latest evaluation results suggest that the centre's clients are taking fewer risks and experiencing fewer overdoses.

The evaluator found that 77 per cent reported improvements in injecting practices since registering at the centre, including 54 per cent reporting they were less likely to share injecting equipment; clients have received advice on safe injecting practices, drug and alcohol counselling, and information and advice on drug treatment on more than 29,700 occasions; and the overdose rate for heroin-opiate use has decreased from 9.2 per 1,000 visits in the centre's first 18 months of operation to 7 per 1,000 in 2007.

In reply to whether the centre is a honey pot for ice, the New South Wales Government closely monitors any changes in drug use trends within the centre. Over the past six years the primary drugs injected at the centre have been 62 per cent heroin, 14 per cent cocaine and 12 per cent prescription opioids. The use of amphetamine and methamphetamine by the centre's clients has slowly increased from 3 per cent in mid-2002 to 7 per cent in 2007. This arguably reflects increased use in the community and may also be due to a reduction in heroin availability as people substitute their drugs. However, the rate remains low compared with other drugs used and the trend appears to be stable.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked about more centres. The Government remains committed to one centre, as provided in the legislation. Kings Cross is unique and has a long history as an illicit drug area, with high levels of drug overdoses and a transient population. The other matters have been well canvassed in the report. The Government continues to do everything it can to eliminate drugs from our society, with tough policing and law enforcement. The outcomes of the Drug Summit have continued to expand beds and treatment across the State. In light of the Government's commitment to evidence-based drug and alcohol policy, it will continue to carefully monitor the trial and look at it again in four years time. Given the late hour, I will not seek to continue the debate.

Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. Penny Sharpe and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
BIOFUEL (ETHANOL CONTENT) BILL 2007

Bill received from the Legislative Assembly, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Tony Kelly.

Motion by the Hon. Tony Kelly agreed to:
      That standing orders be suspended to allow the passing of the bill through all its remaining stages during the present or any one sitting of the House.

Second reading set down as an order of the day for a later hour.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Postponement of Business

Government Business Orders of the Day Nos 4 to 8 postponed on motion by the Hon. Tony Kelly.
COMMITTEE ON THE HEALTH CARE COMPLAINTS COMMISSION
Establishment and Membership

Motion by the Hon. Tony Kelly agreed to:

(1) That, under section 64 of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993, a joint committee known as the Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission be appointed.

(2) That, under section 67 (1) (a) of the Act, Ms Westwood, Mr Clarke and Revd Nile be appointed to serve on the committee as members of the Legislative Council.

Message forwarded to the Legislative Assembly advising it of the resolution.
COMMITTEE ON THE OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN AND THE POLICE INTEGRITY COMMISSION
Establishment and Membership

Motion by the Hon. Tony Kelly agreed to:

(1) That, under section 31A of the Ombudsman Act 1974, a joint committee known as the Committee on the Office of the Ombudsman and the Police Integrity Commission be appointed.

(2) That, under section 31C (1) (a) of the Act, Ms Voltz, Mr Lynn and Ms Hale be appointed to serve on the committee as members of the Legislative Council.

Message forwarded to the Legislative Assembly advising it of the resolution.

COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
Establishment and Membership

Motion by the Hon. Tony Kelly agreed to:

(1) That, under section 27 of the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998, a joint committee known as the Committee on Children and Young People be appointed.

(2) That, under section 29 (1) (a) of the Act, Ms Griffin, Ms Cusack and Revd Nile be appointed to serve on the committee as members of the Legislative Council.

Message forwarded to the Legislative Assembly advising it of the resolution.
JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON ELECTORAL MATTERS
Establishment and Membership

Motion by the Hon. Tony Kelly agreed to:

(1) That this House agrees to the resolution in the Legislative Assembly's message of Thursday 21 June 2007 relating to the appointment of a Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.

(2) That the representatives of the Legislative Council on the joint standing committee be Ms Sharpe, Mr Harwin, Miss Gardiner and Ms Rhiannon.

(3) That the time and place for the first meeting be Thursday 28 June 2007 at 10.30 a.m. in room 814.

Message forwarded to the Legislative Assembly advising it of the resolution.
ADJOURNMENT

The Hon. TONY KELLY (Minister for Lands, Minister for Rural Affairs, Minister for Regional Development, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [2.05 a.m.]: I move:

That this House do now adjourn.
OFFSHORE OUTSOURCING

The Hon. MICHAEL VEITCH [2.05 a.m.]: I wish to speak about the dangerous trend in Australia toward offshore outsourcing. Whilst most industries are encountering a degree of offshore outsourcing it is a substantial issue for the service-related industries. I have a number of concerns about offshore outsourcing, including the national consequence of lost skills, lost jobs and consumer and employee rights. During a recent meeting with Mr Geoff Derrick, the State Secretary of the Finance Sector Union, Mr Derrick expressed his profound concern at the transfer of payroll activity by the ANZ Bank and the National Australia Bank to Bangalore. Mr Derrick continues to hold grave concern for the security of private employee information that is now being handled offshore without the clear approval of the employees involved.

The House may not be aware but employees of these banks do not get a choice as to where they can have their salaries paid—they must have a bank account with their employer as a condition of their employment. Mr Derrick's argument and his resulting commitment to the protection of Finance Sector Union members' personal details are indeed compelling. Finance Sector Union members are fortunate to have such an articulate servant enunciating their cause. Individual employees must have the right to choose whether their personal details are treated offshore as a part of an employer's commercial decision. This trend toward locating employees' personal data offshore should be of grave concern to everyone in Australia. Every Australian should have a clear understanding of where services are delivered from, and every Australian should have the right to control whether their personal information will be transferred offshore.

A large number of Australians already have their personal information held offshore without their informed consent or permission. The grave risk with offshore outsourcing of personal information is that there are no protections under Australia's privacy laws. Coupled with threats of cyber fraud and identity theft, Australians have every right to be concerned about who exactly has access to all their personal information. However, the companies in the service industries of banking, finance, information technology and communications are clearly prepared to compromise the privacy laws and data protection laws in Australia for inferior protections offshore in the pursuit of reduced overheads and larger profit margins.

So not only is offshore outsourcing an issue for employees of the ANZ or the National Australia Bank, it is a serious matter for all Australians. One of the inherent principles of all consumer legislation is informed decision-making by consumers. Currently in Australia this does not apply to offshore outsourcing in the service industries and the consumers' right to know where their information is held. In fact, research commissioned by the Finance Sector Union and conducted by McNair Ingenuity shows that 85 per cent of Australians are concerned about the security of their personal information being accessed by foreign countries, and that 85 per cent of all Australians agree that the Federal Government should require all financial institutions to disclose whether they store customer information overseas. Some 91 per cent believe that their personal information should not be stored offshore without their express permission.

These figures clearly display the level of concern held by Australians about their right to know where their personal details are being held. In addition the OECD has released figures that suggest that close to 20 per cent of all work performed in Australia could potentially be conducted offshore. Given that potential and the concern that Australians have, it is imperative that "right to know" legislation be enacted. Australia lags behind. France and several United States of America State legislatures have already adopted similar legislation making companies inform their employees and gain their permission to handle their personal information offshore.

Australian Labor Party member Anna Burke, the Federal member for Chisholm, has introduced a private member's bill, the Privacy Protection for Off Shoring Bill 2007, in the Federal Parliament. Again it is left to the Labor Party to look after the rights of working Australians against companies that choose to ignore, and indeed compromise, the rights of workers in the pursuit of greater profits. It is the Labor Party that is devising legislation to protect consumers and workers. It will also serve to increase public confidence in the emerging e-commerce markets. It is hoped that this bill in Federal Parliament is given serious and immediate consideration.
HUNTER VALLEY WINERY TOURISM
POLICE OFFICER OF THE YEAR AWARD

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER (Leader of the Opposition) [2.09 a.m.]: This morning I raise two significant matters that fall under my shadow ministerial roles, they being shadow Minister for the Hunter and shadow Minister for Police. In the 15 days following 8 June 2007 hot dog sellers and Mr Whippy vans have been making a small fortune nearly every day of the week adjacent to Nobby's Beach, Newcastle. Whilst the media focus, and betting markets hover, over the likelihood of success or failure in the ongoing salvage operation involving the Pasha Bulker , a pressing economic disaster is developing in another part of the Hunter Valley.

In the 15 days following 8 June 2007 the three major tourism sectors in and around the Hunter Valley wine industry, which include accommodation, cellar doors and restaurants, have lost approximately $5.3 million in trade. Yesterday, in a desperate plea for help they forwarded to the Treasurer and Minister for the Hunter this figure, which has been tipped to soar to over $51 million over the next three months. This is an independent assessment that has been conducted for the industry. With over 12,000 full-time jobs in the Hunter tourist sector, the impact of a loss of this magnitude will have a devastating effect across the entire Hunter region.

The Hon. Greg Donnelly: What is the reason?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: The reason is that a number of people have been pulling out of accommodation and restaurant bookings, and the like, as well as conferences in the Hunter Valley. I have come into possession of a proposal put to the Minister yesterday seeking urgent financial assistance from this Government to enable the Hunter Tourism Task Force to initiate an immediate consumer education campaign to stem the flow of a false impression that has permeated the tourism industry of New South Wales that it will take the wine and tourism sector at least six months to get over this natural disaster. It is important for everyone to know that the Hunter Valley, in particular the wine region, is open for business and that any view to the contrary is simply wrong. The amount being asked by the sector is an enhanced contribution by the State Government of $150,000.

Equally, the Federal Government is being asked to contribute in a similar fashion and I am advised that the Federal member for Paterson, Bob Baldwin, has personally taken charge of seeking this assistance. I am confident that Bob Baldwin will be successful for his region yet again. But tonight we must focus our attention on what we in State Parliament can do. This matter is extremely grave and needs urgent action from the State Government. Tomorrow will mark three days since the Treasurer received this urgent request for help. I would have thought this is sufficient time for the Government to consider this application. Anything else would be sheer neglect of the Hunter Valley. I look forward to Minister Costa reporting on the Government's position tomorrow.

Turning now to a completely different issue that relates to my parliamentary responsibilities for policing, last night I attended a truly special evening held at Club Marconi by the Rotary Club of Cabramatta. It was the 2007 Police Officer of the Year Awards. This event was initially organised by the Rotary Club of Fairfield; however with the closing of that club some years ago, the responsibility for organising this event was taken up by the Cabramatta club. This annual event involves the distribution of over 25,000 nomination forms throughout the electorate and members of the community are asked to nominate a police officer they have come into contact with who is worthy of recognition of good community-based police work. A further award is given and this involves nomination by peers within the local area commands of Cabramatta and Fairfield.

A large number of local police were nominated and received certificates issued by Rotary for the good police work that they have done over the past 12 months. The successful recipient for Police Officer of the Year (Public Award) was Senior Constable Sam Cognetta of Cabramatta-Fairfield Police Citizens Youth Club and the successful recipient for Police Officer of the Year (Peer Award) was Detective Sergeant Mark Doubleday of Fairfield local area command. Congratulations to these two officers, together with all of those nominated for a job well done and a special thanks to their families and loved ones for giving them the support that enables them to do the important job they do so well. Congratulations also to the Rotary Club of Cabramatta, in particular President David Butterfield, for the work he does supporting his local police as he maintains the motto of Rotary "Service above Self".
NUCLEAR WASTE DUMPING

Mr IAN COHEN [2.14 a.m.]: After years of being ignored in the bush, traditional owners and community representatives from four sites in the Northern Territory targeted by the Federal Government for a radioactive waste dump have brought their concerns to the heart of Australia's biggest city. The group is in Sydney and was at New South Wales Parliament—now the day before yesterday—as part of a national tour to highlight the growing issue of radioactive waste ahead of the Federal election. Audrey McCormack, whose homeland is four kilometres from the proposed Mount Everard dump site, had this to say:

People in the Northern Territory know about this issue. Now others need to hear the story. This concerns all Australians, especially people living along the roads leading from Sydney to the Northern Territory.

The waste is to be deposited out of sight and out of mind on Aboriginal land. Half a century of the nuclear era and still we are no closer to effective disposal of nuclear waste. We may find eventually that Muckaty or another region in the Northern Territory will be a repository of global nuclear waste. It is an horrific scenario for those who live there, the environment, and the small vulnerable communities along the transport corridor. In 2004 a New South Wales parliamentary committee, of which I was a member, examined the transport and storage of nuclear waste in New South Wales. The current president was the chair of that committee. It highlighted serious and unresolved safety concerns, particularly for New South Wales regional communities on the primary transport corridors. Mitch, an Arrernte-Luritja woman representing Engawala, the community closest to the proposed Hart Range site, said:

The Northern Territory is not nowhere and we are not no-one. There are communities living close to all of the proposed sites. We collect bush tucker and bush medicine and water from underground.

Margie Lynch, an Arrernte woman from Central Australia, concluded:

This dump plan is the thin edge of the wedge and opens the door to an international waste dump in the Northern Territory. The Federal Government has lied to us about this dump not being in the Territory, so why should we believe it won't become an international dump?

Since overwhelming community opposition stopped the proposal for a national nuclear waste dump in South Australia, the Federal Government seems determined to let nothing stand in its way to find a site in the Northern Territory to dump its radioactive waste. Despite giving an "absolute categorical assurance" that the Territory would not be targeted for a Federal dump, in June 2005 it was announced that three Department of Defence sites in the Northern Territory—Mount Everard, Harts Range and Fishers Ridge—would be assessed for suitability. None of these sites was shortlisted when the Federal Government undertook a study to find a site for a national repository but science is not at the forefront of the latest proposal. At a media conference in June 2005, then science Minister Brendan Nelson explained why the Territory was being targeted. He said:

… why on earth can't people in the middle of nowhere have low-level and intermediate level waste?

The reasoning behind the Northern Territory dump proposal was also bluntly put by Julie Bishop, the current science Minister, when she suggested that all of the sites are, "some distance from any form of civilisation." In fact, people are living on country and running successful pastoral and tourism enterprises three, five and 18 kilometres from all of the Department of Defence sites that have been assessed for the dump. We believe it is very uncivilised of the Government to dump radioactive waste on their land without their consent.

The Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act 2005, which overrides Northern Territory law opposing nuclear waste transport and storage, also allows the Northern Territory Government or land councils to nominate sites other than Commonwealth defence land for assessment. The Northern Territory Government remains strongly opposed to the Federal plan, but after a year of media speculation and meetings between Federal Government officials, the Northern Land Council [NLC] and traditional owners, last month the full council of the Northern Land Council agreed to nominate Muckaty Warlmanpa land 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek. If science Minister Julie Bishop accepts the Muckaty nomination, a short scientific study will be carried out and then the preferred site of the four will be subject to an environmental impact statement.

The nearest neighbours to the proposed site are the Mount Everard community, which is 40 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs. The Werre Therre community is across the road, only three kilometres away from the Mount Everard site. Traditional owner, Steven McCormack said:

This land is not empty—people live right nearby. We hunt and collect bush tucker here and I am the custodian of a sacred site within the boundaries of the defence land. We don't want this poison here.

Harts Range is 160 kilometres north of Alice Springs. The Engawala community and the Aboriginal-owned Alcoota Cattle Station are situated 18 kilometres north of the Harts Range defence site. Mitch, of the Engawala community, said:

We stand strong in our own culture as indigenous people, and want the land and water to be protected for all children, black and white. If this nuclear waste is so safe, why can't they keep it at … Lucas Heights—

[ Time expired.]
SEXUALISATION REPORT

The Hon. GREG DONNELLY [2.19 a.m.]: I draw to the attention of honourable members a report recently released by the American Psychological Association titled "Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualisation of Girls". The task force was established in February 2005 comprising six psychologists, four of whom had PhDs, plus a member of the public. The report has taken almost two years to produce. It is 45 pages long and annotated with 439 references covering another 20 pages. The report is a major and significant piece of social science research on this particular subject that is, as far as I can establish, the most comprehensive ever done.

The report looked at issues across a number of media formats including television, music, videos, music lyrics, movies, cartoons and animation, magazines, sports media, video/computer games, Internet, advertising, products, clothing and cosmetics. It is also worth noting that the report examines in detail the literature and research relating not only to girls but also to women. Such a detailed report cannot have its content simply reduced to a few brief sentences. Interested members can source the executive summary and a full report on the Internet. However, in my view the keystone observation in the report is to be found at page 21 where the authors say with respect to the consequences of the sexualisation of girls and women:

Ample evidence indicates that sexualisation has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality and beliefs.

The language used by the authors of the report is candid and not ambiguous. They do not say "may" or "possible". They specifically use the phrase "ample evidence". After examining the evidence under the various domains, the authors go on to look at the evidence of the impact of the sexualisation of girls and women on others, including boys, men and other women. There is then a detailed examination of the impact on society as a whole. The American Psychological Association report does not pull any punches. It is confronting and will seriously challenge some deeply held views. However, I do not believe that we can, or should, ignore what the report is fundamentally saying.

It can also be said that this should not be seen as just a girls and women's issue. The impact of the sexualisation of boys and men on individuals and society should not be underestimated. More needs to be done by social science to help us understand more clearly its impact on boys and men. The report should agitate strong anecdotal public debate not only in America but also in Australia where most, if not all, of the issues have a similar cultural relevance. Of course, the nay-sayers will argue that the report has methodological flaws and paradigm issues or that social science is subjective by its very nature. It seems to me that if a report like this is not persuasive, then for some people nothing would be persuasive. The report also contains a number of recommendations that are clear and unambiguous. Recommendation 5 under the heading Public Policy says:

That the APA work with Congress and relevant Federal agencies and industry to reduce the use of centralised images of girls in all forms of media and products.

It is my view that policy makers and lawmakers in Australia should have a very close look at the report and its recommendations. At the recent Australian Labor Party National Conference in Sydney I was pleased, together with a number of others, to participate in a debate on this issue. As a result two new provisions were incorporated into the party's national platform. The second dot point in paragraph 5 of chapter 10, which deals with health, states:

Labor will:

· Acknowledge the over-representation of young women with eating disorders and body image related mental health issues. Labor will develop strategies to prevent and reduce the damage being caused by the increased sexualisation of young women in all media;

New paragraph 65 in chapter 12, which deals with justice, states:
      Labor is concerned about the sexualisation of children and adults in the media. Labor will support the conduct of research into these areas.
I believe that the time has come for politicians to engage the community on this matter. Likewise, the community should engage politicians in a considered discussion on this issue, which is having a major impact on our society.
POLICE LEADERSHIP

The Hon. CHARLIE LYNN [2.23 a.m.]: Recently I have had cause to raise a number of concerns about the corrupt culture of leadership at the most senior levels of the New South Wales Police Force. These concerns were caused by a number of internal police investigations that have been conducted and covered up under the current police hierarchy. The two reports that cause me most concern are the Tunks report and Operation Retz. These reports reveal a disturbing insight into the police command and control structure, which is destined to fail if it is ever put to the test. If responses to the riots in Redfern, Macquarie Fields and Cronulla are the current benchmarks then the command and control systems in the New South Wales Police Force would be considered to be dysfunctional. Since my concerns have been made public I have received emails, letters and phone calls from former long-serving police officers. I cannot mention all of them in the time I have available, but a couple of quotes will provide honourable members with a feel for the depth of the problems that must be addressed. One email states:

I have read the Hansard entries by you relating to the Retz report. On behalf of all hardworking decent police I would ask that you not give up. As a police officer of 24 years of service, 19 of those as a designated detective, I have given up on enthusiasm for my work. I have suspected for many years that promotion has more to do with sponsorship than ability. I have frankly reached the end of my tether and despair of the quality of leadership. You could call me disgruntled and to a certain degree I am. I now feel as though there is no place left for me in NSW Police Force. I know of many police of my vintage who feel the same way. I always thought that I had a lot to offer junior police and the organisation as a leader but the organisation feels otherwise. I will have to remain content as a senior constable as this new promotion system improves very little on the previous.

Please continue with this matter for the benefit of future police and police leadership.

Another email states:

Dear Mr Lynn,



I have read with a great sense of relief and anticipation an article relating to your comments in today's Daily Telegraph touching on the topic of corruption and incompetence within the senior ranks of the NSW Police Force. Congratulations on raising this awful but truthful issue in Parliament along with your calls for a commission of inquiry. Thousands of police would heartily agree with this course of action for there is no other way that the NSW Police Force will ever admit to having incompetent, corrupt or bullying managers unless there is independent and far-reaching scrutiny of this issue.



I was an executive member of our Police Association for 16 years in total. In this capacity I saw and experienced first hand the mechanisms of administrative corruption in the NSW Police Force



What you are proposing is critical to re-establishing the credibility of senior management and those aspiring there because I have never seen the state of integrity, ethics and morale in the NSW Police Force so debased and toxic in my 30 years in policing. I do not say this lightly.

Mr Lynn, there are a great number of thoroughly honest, highly principled and ethical police who love their chosen career. Many continue to express to me their deep concerns over the state of the administrative and promotional corruption which creates young, relatively inexperienced leaders who can do no wrong, even when faced with glaring misconduct issues. It is a toxic culture that allows a senior police, when promoted, to be sprayed in Teflon as it were …

I have numerous other emails, one of which states:

Having served for more than 38 years in that organisation I couldn't agree more with your claims [the police promotion system].

Yet another email states:

I am a former NSW Police Officer, 26 years of service, now retired on medical grounds.

I write to you and offer my full support in your call for a public inquiry…

The Tunks report was commissioned to review a report conducted by Superintendent Newling into criminal activity in Cabramatta. Superintendent Tunks found that Superintendent Newling's report was a sham, and he recommended that criminal charges be laid against him and other senior police. Soon after the release of the Tunks report I understand that Superintendent Newling took an early retirement on health grounds and now enjoys a lifetime pension of around $95,000 a year. Newling's retirement allowed the police hierarchy to bury the Tunks review. I believe it is in the public interest for this review to be examined to clear the air and to obtain the answers to some outstanding questions, for example, what happened to the original criminal charges recommended against Superintendent Newling? Who was involved in downgrading the criminal charges against Superintendent Newling to counselling sessions? Did the Police Integrity Commission and the New South Wales Ombudsman support these downgrades?
The same applies to Operation Retz. This report cannot be allowed to gather dust in this House. The 30,000 supporting documents that remain under privilege contain explosive examples of criminal cover-ups, paedophile protection, police incompetence, nepotism and corruption within the police promotion system. I believe that the only option for this issue to be cleared up is for an independent judicial inquiry to be established. The information I am receiving from once-proud, long-serving police officers would indicate that such an inquiry should be established as a matter of urgent public importance.
KURNELL DESALINATION PLANT
MR KEN O'HARA

Ms LEE RHIANNON [2.28 a.m.]: Prior to yesterday's announcement of the Kurnell desalination plant we knew the project was bad news for the environment. Now the desalination consortium has been announced, we know that the desalination plant could be very bad news for job safety. John Holland, one of the companies that will construct the desalination plant, is now operating under ComCare, a system that compromises job safety in New South Wales and expands the reach of John Howard's industrial relations regime in New South Wales.

Mr Stephen Sasse is a senior manager at the John Holland group of companies. He is the Group General Manager, Human Resources and Organisation Strategy. Mr Sasse is spearheading the company's move away from State workers compensation to ComCare. Like other large companies, the John Holland group will say this is all about streamlining its processes, cutting costs and increasing returns to its shareholders. On 13 March John Holland was granted a licence to operate as a self-insurer under ComCare and will exit from WorkCover. The shift of John Holland out of WorkCover comes at a price for the company's employees. This has meant a reduction in workers compensation benefits and undermines the strong occupational health and safety regime that exists in New South Wales. The deal that Mr Sasse has negotiated for his company means that if workers are killed or injured when working for the company, they and their families in most cases will be worse off than if John Holland was operating under New South Wales laws.

Mr Sasse, like John Howard, appears to be ideologically driven when it comes to dealing with working people. Maximum death benefits are expected to be lower for the families of any John Holland workers who are killed on projects in New South Wales; there are no benefits if a worker is injured on the way to or from work; there are no lump sum benefits for injuries that cause up to 10 per cent permanent impairment. ComCare has only 31 inspectors to enforce safety standards across the whole of the country. In New South Wales under WorkCover there are more than 300 inspectors. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the union's secretary, Andrew Ferguson, are resisting the rundown in workplace safety and are informing construction workers of the reduced safety regime under the Federal industrial relations laws. This reminds us again of the importance of having active unions in this country. Mr Sasse, like John Howard, appears to be ideologically driven when it comes to dealing with working people. Maximum death benefits are expected to be lower for the families of any John Holland workers who are killed on projects in New South Wales; there are no benefits if a worker is injured on the way to or from work; there are no lump sum benefits for injuries that cause up to 10 per cent permanent impairment. ComCare has only 31 inspectors to enforce safety standards across the whole of the country. In New South Wales under WorkCover there are more than 300 inspectors. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the union's secretary, Andrew Ferguson, are resisting the rundown in workplace safety and are informing construction workers of the reduced safety regime under the Federal industrial relations laws. This reminds us again of the importance of having active unions in this country.

Mr Sasse and John Holland are working to stop the employees of this company being informed of the real aspect of the company's strategy. The company is using United States-style slapp—strategic litigation against public participation—tactics to crush dissent and free expression. The result is that Mr Sasse and John Holland are suing the union and Andrew Ferguson. Prime Minister John Howard would be proud of the way Mr Sasse is using the Federal industrial relations regime. He has stripped away workers' rights. That will boost profits to John Holland shareholders, but at what cost to employees and their families?

The Kurnell desalination plan is the benchmark for bad environmental planning and bad economic management. It is now set to become the benchmark of negligence in occupational health and safety measures. Although John Holland is operating under ComCare, the New South Wales Government can save the employees of this company from the ravages of Howard's workplace regime. Because John Holland is part of a consortium that is working on a public works project, the Government has the power to insist on a contractual requirement that John Holland workers be protected by the benefits of the New South Wales Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The Government should exercise this power.

I would also like to pay tribute to Mr Ken O'Hara, who is 87 and lives on the South Coast. People who live in that area and read the local paper would often read letters to the editor from Ken O'Hara. He is a prolific writer, taking up the causes of the world peace movement and speaking up for the unemployed. I first met Ken in the 1960s when we were both members of the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament. Ken has worked all his life for peace, having had terrible experiences during times of war. Four of his brothers were caught up in war—one died in an air fight over Germany and another came home from war a complete nervous wreck. Ken continues to speak about his experiences. He was active in organising Vietnam moratoriums and was particularly thrilled when there was a huge turnout at a march in Wollongong. I congratulate Ken on the considerable work he undertakes. He and his wife, Maureen, continue to be in good health. They are well known and well respected in their community. Ken's work has been acknowledged with an Illawarra Healthy Cities Award.
ABORIGINAL CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

The Hon. CHRISTINE ROBERTSON [2.33 p.m.]: I have a very personal fear that child sexual assault will be singled out as a symptom of unhappy dysfunctional communities. I plead with all governments to recognise all peoples and to treat their problems as a whole—that is, problems associated with work, education, family support, health, housing, food and law in order. Here we go again: destruction at the hands of the master of wedge politics! So many people, friend and foe, do not recognise the long-term outcomes of some of the actions that are being proposed today. I trust there will be much healthy discussion in this House and the other House of the New South Wales Parliament on this issue. I trust that we will all make ourselves familiar with the current policies that have been negotiated for Aboriginal people in New South Wales. I trust that the New South Wales Government will continue its good record of working with and for Aboriginal people to ensure that they have a good life. I recognise that we have major problems, but emphasis has to be placed on education and family support.

[ Time for debate expired.]

Question—That this House do now adjourn—put and resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

The House adjourned at 2.35 a.m. Wednesday 27 June 2007 until 11.00 a.m. on the same day.

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