Full Day Hansard Transcript (Legislative Council, 27 October 1999, Corrected Copy)

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LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
Wednesday 27 October 1999
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The President (The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann) took the chair at 11.00 a.m.

The President offered the Prayers.
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
Report

The President tabled, in accordance with section 31AA (1) of the Ombudsman Act 1974, the annual report of the New South Wales Ombudsman for the year ending 30 June 1999.

The President announced that, under section 31AA (2) of the Act, she had authorised that the report be made public.
PROTECTED DISCLOSURES ACT REVIEW

Motion by the Hon. M. R. Egan agreed to:
    That the review under section 32 of the Protected Disclosures Act 1994 be referred to the Committee on the Office of the Ombudsman and the Police Integrity Commission.

Message forwarded to the Legislative Assembly advising it of the resolution.
DRUG SUMMIT LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE BILL
Second Reading

Debate resumed from 21 October.

The Hon. M. J. GALLACHER (Leader of the Opposition) [11.02 a.m.]: I lead on behalf of the Opposition on the Drug Summit Legislative Response Bill. This is extremely important legislation. This is the first opportunity that the Opposition has had within the context of the Parliament to put its concerns on the record and I am not only pleased but honoured to do so. Polarised thinking on different approaches to illicit drugs is certainly passionate but ultimately unhelpful.

Whether to pursue a liberal approach or a restrictive one and whether to trial an injecting room or undertake a heroin trial should principally be questions of policy, not morality. The necessary approach should be to pursue not what feels good or is simply held to be right for its own sake but what works in fact. Measures to reduce the consumption of illicit drugs and the number of addicts need to be debated. That is the Coalition’s principal objective.

The Coalition is of the view that parts of the bill are progressive and beneficial. These include provisions for amending the Bail Act to allow for an offender to attend a rehabilitation program, amending the Correctional Centres Act to implement better detection in detention centres, and amending the Young Offenders Act to allow for a cautioning system to apply to juveniles. Regrettably, the Government has placed these progressive and beneficial reforms together with the heroin injecting room proposal and for this reason the Coalition opposes the bill.

I stray from the main thrust of my arguments relating to specific flaws in the bill to put on record my personal support for the measures relating to the Young Offenders Act. It has been a long held view of mine, after many years as a member of the New South Wales Police Service, that young offenders up to the age of 16 who have been subjected to peer group pressure and who we acknowledge can make mistakes should be given a chance to rectify that behaviour so that they do not pursue a life of drug taking or, worse, drug taking and criminality.

Well before I became a member of this Parliament I supported a formalised system that acknowledges that young people in particular can make mistakes and that the court system, the legal system and the community of New South Wales should give young people who have strayed and who have been caught up in the taking or possession of drugs an opportunity to move away from that potentially devastating lifestyle. Unfortunately, the Government has put these progressive and beneficial reforms to the way in which young people are dealt with by the courts together with heroin injecting rooms in the Kings Cross area. The Opposition opposes that approach.

I turn now to specific flaws in the bill. First, on the restrictions on issue of licence, new section 36F (2) requires that if a community drug action
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plan is in force in relation to the area within which the premises of the proposed injecting centre are situated, the responsible authorities must have regard to that plan. This new section contravenes recommendation 3.15 of the New South Wales Drug Summit 1999 communique, at page 15, which requires that proposals for a tightly controlled trial of medically supervised injecting rooms should be contained in a local community drug action plan.

The plans, developed by local agencies, non-government organisations, volunteers and community organisations, must be part of a comprehensive strategy for local law enforcement, health, community and preventative education initiatives. This new section also contravenes the Carr Government’s own response to recommendation 3.15 of the New South Wales Drug Summit 1999, at page 47 of the Government plan of action dated July 1999, which states:
    The proponent must demonstrate that the facility has a requisite level of community support. This must be demonstrated by support from the local council and by linking the facility to a wider local community drug action plan.

It is evident from the bill and from what has been said so far in this debate by the Government, both inside and outside the Chamber, that such action has not been instituted. It essentially places the cart before the horse by implementing the injecting room before a community strategic plan is in place. New section 36G, in relation to duration of licence, states that unless sooner surrendered or revoked, a licence has effect for the period specified in it.

Why does this proposed section not contain the stipulated period of 18 months as proposed in new section 36A (1)? The Special Minister of State has said that he will take that matter on board and reply to it. I have a number of questions for him and I hope he takes the opportunity to consider these serious concerns outlined by the Opposition. New section 36N, in relation to exemption from criminal liability for users of a licensed injecting centre, states:
    (3) In this section:
    exempt quantity, in relation to a prescribed drug, means:
    (a) in the case of a prohibited drug, a small quantity of the drug (subject to paragraph (b)), or
    (b) in any case, such quantity of the drug as is prescribed by the regulations.

Further, new section 36N (4) states:
    (4) Nothing in this section prevents a police officer from exercising a discretion not to charge a person with an offence under section 10 or 11:
    (a) in respect of the possession of a prescribed drug, or
    (b) in respect of the position of an item of equipment for use in the administration of a prescribed drug, while the person is travelling to or from, or is in the vicinity of, a licensed injecting centre.

The effect of this proposed section would be, first, to turn the small quantity column in the schedule of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act into an exempt column. It is a quite simple transition. It would no longer be small quantities. It would be an exempt quantity column as specified in the Act for those persons in the vicinity of, or travelling to or from the shooting gallery. In the case of heroin, for example, the current small quantity which would become exempt is one gram. The Opposition has considered its position. Quite clearly, this subsection provides the defence of travelling to or from the licensed injecting centre for any person, dealer, user or courier carrying a quantity of illicit drugs. The question we ask is: How is this to be enforced?

Does the provision mean that any person carrying such a quantity of illicit drugs may invoke the defence of travelling to or from or being in the vicinity of the injecting centre? This is a fairly straightforward proposition. From my own practical policing experience, it will not take very long for people, irrespective of where they live in the State, to invoke this defence the moment that they are stopped by a police officer.

They could say, "We are travelling to an injecting centre to use the drugs," and if they have the amount that will become the exempt quantity on their person at the time, they have a legal defence that will restrict greatly - and I would suggest, remove totally - the ability of the police to bring about a satisfactory result. Exemption from civil liability in connection with the conduct of a licensed injecting centre is the subject of new section 36P (1), which states:
    Anything done or omitted to be done in connection with the conduct of a licensed injecting centre does not subject:
    (a) the person by whom that thing was done or omitted, or
    (b) any other person (including the licensee, the State and any Minister of the Crown in right of the State),
    to any action, liability, claim or demand if the thing was done or omitted to be done in good faith for the purpose of executing this Part, and was not done or omitted to be done in a reckless or grossly negligent manner.

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This subsection indemnifies the shooting gallery absolutely against any liability for any death or injury associated with the administration of an illicit drug on those premises. New section 36Q, dealing with application of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, states:
    (1) Development for the purposes of a licensed injecting centre is permissible during the trial period without the need for development consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
    (2) Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 does not apply to or in respect of development during the trial period for the purposes of a licensed injecting centre.

This new section would exempt the shooting gallery from the need to acquire consent from the local council and would deny community consultation in the location and operation of the gallery. This new section contradicts recommendation 3.15 of the New South Wales Drugs Summit 1999 Communique, at page 15, which requires that the Government "should not veto proposals for a tightly controlled trial of medically supervised injecting rooms . . . providing there is support for this at the community and local government level".

By virtue of this legislation, the Government proposes to simply ignore community and local government concerns, because it has not even bothered to ask. This new section also contravenes the Carr Government’s own response to recommendation 3.15 of the New South Wales Drugs Summit 1999 Government Plan of Action dated July 1999, at page 47, which states:
    The proponent must demonstrate the facility has a requisite level of community support. This might be demonstrated by support from the local council and by linking the facility to a wider local community drug action plan.

The Opposition puts its position firmly on the table: This has not been done; there has been no consultation; there is no drug action plan. Therefore the Opposition will continue in its resolve not to support the bill. I turn now to potential inconsistencies between the bill and the Commonwealth Customs Act 1901. New section 36E states:
    The responsible authorities -

meaning the Commissioner of Police and the Director-General of Health -
    may issue a licensed authorising the holder of the licensed to conduct specified premises as an injecting centre.

New section 36N would provide that a small quantity of a prohibited drug, as defined by the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985, would be an exempt quantity. In the case of heroin, for example, the Opposition stipulates that this means one gram. New section 36N, which refers to a "prescribed drug" - that is, a prohibited drug or a substance prescribed by the regulations for the purpose of this definition - states:
    (1) In this section:

exempt quantity, in relation to a prescribed drug, means:
    (a) in the case of a prohibited drug, a small quantity of the drug (subject to paragraph (b)), or
    (b) in any case, such quantity of the drug as is prescribed by the regulations.

New section 36N (2) would also make it not unlawful to be in possession of an exempt quantity of the prohibited drug or any item of equipment for self-administration of the prohibited drug, or to administer to oneself the prohibited drug. As spelled out in new section 36N (2), despite any other provision of this Act or any other Act or law, it will not be unlawful for a person at a licensed injecting centre to be in possession of, otherwise than for supply, an exempt quantity of a prescribed drug or to be in possession of equipment for the use of a prescribed drug, or to administer or to attempt to administer to himself or herself an exempt quantity of a prescribed drug.

New section 36N (4) provides that a police officer may exercise a discretion not to charge a person with an offence in respect of the possession of a currently prohibited drug, an item of equipment for administration or the act of self-administration. New section 36N (4) states:
    (4) Nothing in this section prevents a police officer from exercising a discretion not to charge a person with an offence under section 10 or 11:
    (a) in respect of the possession of a prescribed drug, or
    (b) in respect of the possession of . . . [or] . . . the administration of a prescribed drug.

According to the "Medically Supervised Injecting Centre Police Service Guidelines", which were released by the Special Minister of State on 23 September, "Police will not carry out unnecessary patrols in the vicinity of the medically supervised injecting centre and police will not seek to routinely enter the centre." From a practical policing perspective and having given evidence at virtually every level of court in this State, I am at a loss to understand how a police officer will ever be able to
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satisfy that a patrol of an area that has been set aside as a medically supervised injecting room was not conducted in an unnecessary way.

Do the guidelines refer to one or two patrols of a street each day as being unnecessary, or do the guidelines refer to half a dozen or more patrols? It will not take very long for criminals to realise that their conduct in a street or in the vicinity of a medically supervised injecting centre will be basically in no-man’s-land for the Police Service. They will soon know that if they are spoken to on more than one or two occasions, they may be in a position to lodge a complaint about being unfairly treated or harassed because police are conducting unnecessary patrols.

How can we expect New South Wales police officers to operate in an area in which demarcation lines are being drawn on their ability to conduct themselves responsibly as members of the Police Service? Many years ago I worked in Kings Cross and I know that the area for the proposed medically supervised injecting room is a significant thoroughfare for both criminals and subsequent police routine patrols.

How does one define an unnecessary patrol? What constitutes a number of patrols? If a number is not to be placed on patrols, how can we ensure patrols related to the safety of local residents as distinct from patrols related to those using the medically supervised injecting room? Can residents be assured that their area will be patrolled only once or twice a day, between 9.00 and 10.00 in the morning and 6.00 and 7.00 at night? What are the practical implications of the unnecessary patrol guideline tabled in this House by the Special Minister of State? Section 232 of the Commonwealth Customs Act 1901 states:
    Collusive Seizures Penalty
    Whoever:
    (a) Being an officer of the Customs or Police . . . makes any agreement . . . not to seize any . . . goods liable to forfeiture . . . shall be guilty of an indictable offence and shall be liable to imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding 5 years.

Section 229 of the Customs Act 1901 defines goods liable to forfeiture as follows:
    Forfeited Goods
    All prohibited imports.
    All goods, the importation of which has been prohibited unless a licence or permission containing conditions or requirements has been granted.

The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations require, on the question of importation of drugs as set out in regulation 5, that:
    (1) . . . the importation into Australia of a drug is prohibited unless:
    (a) the person importing the drug is a holder of:
      (i) a licence to import drugs granted by the Secretary of the Department of Human Services and Health or an authorised person under this regulation; and
      (ii) a permission to import the drug granted by the Secretary of the Department of Human Services and Health, or an authorised person under this regulation.

Item 104 of schedule 4 to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations lists heroin, otherwise known as diacetylmorphine, as a prohibited import. The Commonwealth legislation, as spelt out in the Customs Act, makes it an offence to import the drug and also an offence for police officers or customs agents to make any agreement to not seize goods liable to forfeiture. Section 233B of the Customs Act 1901 requires:
    (1) Any person who:
    (ca) without reasonable excuse (proof whereof shall lie upon him) has in his possession, or attempts to obtain possession of, any prohibited imports to which this section applies which are reasonably suspected of having been imported into Australia in contravention of this Act . . . shall be guilty of an offence.

Again, there is a distinct contradiction between what is being proposed in New South Wales and the Commonwealth legislation with respect to illegal importation of goods or drugs into this country. The Act states:
    (IB) On the prosecution of a person for an offence against subsection (1), being an offence to which paragraph (ca) of that subsection applies, it is a defence if the person proves that the goods were not imported into Australia or were not imported in contravention of this Act.

It further paints a clear and stark dichotomy between the proposed legislation, which legalises the use and possession of heroin, and the Commonwealth legislation, which opposes it. Section 231 of the Customs Act requires that:
    (1) All persons to the number of 2 or more assembled for the purpose of:
    (c) preventing the seizure, or rescuing after seizure, of any prohibited imports . . . shall be guilty of an offence punishable upon conviction . . .

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    (e) if the offence is committed in relation to goods that are narcotic goods - as provided by section 235.
    (2) This section, in so far as it relates to prohibited imports, shall apply to all prohibited imports that are narcotic goods.

There is no grey area in what I am putting to the Special Minister of State; there is a clear contradiction between the proposed State legislation relating to the legalisation of a shooting gallery and the Commonwealth legislation. The Commonwealth Customs Act includes the following reference to the penalties for offences in relation to narcotic goods:
    (2) . . . where:
    (a) a person commits an offence against subsection 231 (1), section 233A or subsection 233B (1) . . . the penalty applicable to the offence is . . .
    (e) in any other case - a fine not exceeding $2,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 2 years, or both.

What guidelines has the Government and the Minister given to the New South Wales Police Service, to every police officer who is doing his or her best to stop the flow of drugs, the use of drugs, and the crime associated with it? What is the Government doing to clarify the situation for members of the New South Wales Police Service? They will now find themselves not in a moral dilemma but forced to make a distinction between what the Government says is legal and their responsibilities under Federal legislation to take appropriate action; and the fact that in failing to take action they are knowingly committing a criminal offence under Federal legislation.

The net effect of the bill therefore appears to be that the Commissioner of Police may contravene section 232 of the Customs Act and become guilty of collusive seizures by entering into an agreement not to seize what the Customs Act defines as "any goods liable to forfeiture" - which I understand may include heroin - by consenting to not seize heroin or other illicit drugs "while the person is travelling to or from, or is in the vicinity of, a licensed injecting centre".

Further, the Commissioner of Police and the Director-General of Health by consenting to issue a licence for an injecting centre may breach section 231 of the Customs Act, which applies to persons assembled for the purpose of "preventing the seizure of any prohibited imports". As honourable members would be aware, section 109 of the Commonwealth Constitution requires that Commonwealth law shall prevail over State law to the extent of any inconsistency that may exist between them. I reiterate: the bill’s potential inconsistency with the Commonwealth Customs Act is of major concern and the Opposition requests that the Minister advise the House in respect of the serious matters I have raised in this debate.

The Hon. Dr A. CHESTERFIELD-EVANS [11.38 a.m.]: I support the bill but it is discouraging to be forever supporting tiny progress when large progress could and should be made.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Why don’t you stand up to get more money for treatment? Why don’t you stand up to get more money for education, or for detox?

The Hon. Dr A. CHESTERFIELD-EVANS: A number of suggestions have been made by the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti by way of interjection. Obviously his ideas for increased money for interventions and education equate with our policy but, again, are not being dealt with in this debate. This bill is a response to a massive drug problem in Australia, sufficient to cause the Government to hold the Drug Summit which has brought forth a decidedly sickly infant compared with what could have come from such a Summit with such massive positive public response.

The Government, having obtained massive public endorsement for radical action at the Drug Summit, has brought forward a very minimalist bill. It is sad that with such a huge majority in Parliament, such a huge public endorsement and such a huge need it has taken such a small incremental step. The word "timid" is not strong enough.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: It understates the case.

The Hon. Dr A. CHESTERFIELD-EVANS: It understates the case for this Government. It is true that the reactionary approach of the Opposition is less than encouraging, but that should not stop the Government from doing the right thing and doing it much less timidly than it has with this bill. The Democrats support the bill. We cannot oppose things merely because they are too timid. The Australian Democrats continually find that it is better to make some progress than no progress. However, we would like to have it recorded that we regard this response as very timid, very minimal and not enough.

The size of the drug problem in Australia is large. The Sydney Morning Herald of 15 May reported that Australians are said to spend $14 billion a year on illicit drugs; $4 billion on
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injecting 10 tonnes of heroin; $4 billion snorting about the same amount of cocaine, and an estimated $4 billion to $6 billion on amphetamines. The very large harvest of marijuana has not been quantified. By their own admission, 46 per cent of Australians over 14 have used illicit drugs.

The latest national household drugs survey revealed that 39.3 per cent of Australians have used marijuana; 10.7 per cent have used hallucinogens; 8.7 per cent have used amphetamines; 4.7 per cent have used ecstasy and dance drugs; 4.3 per cent have used cocaine and 2.2 per cent have used heroin. Again according to the Sydney Morning Herald, young females have been targeted by heroin pushers. In the 14 to 19 age group 1.4 per cent of females and 0.5 per cent of males are heroin users, but by the age of 21 there are twice as many male users of heroin.

In the three years since the survey in 1996 heroin use amongst young females has increased by almost 60 per cent. I was fortunate to receive, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, a prepublication copy of an overdose fact sheet prepared by Wayne Hall. The document is due for publication. That fact sheet reveals that opioids were a major cause of death in the 15 to 34 age group - 76 per cent of illicit drug deaths in Australia in 1995 were from opioids, 32 per cent of all drug-related deaths and 9 per cent of all deaths in the 15 to 34 age group.

The most frequent causes of those deaths were dependence and accidental poisoning, in other words, overdose. According to Hall and co-researcher Darke, in the period from 1979 to 1995 overdose deaths increased from 70 to 550. In the 15 to 44 age group the rate increased sixfold and the rate was highest in New South Wales. Interestingly, over that period the age of death increased from 24.5 to 30.6. Older users are most at risk although deaths among new users are increasing. In 1997 there were 242 male deaths in New South Wales and 50 female deaths.

The rate of opiate overdose among those aged between 15 and 44 rose from 30 per million of the Australian population in 1991 to 72 in 1997. In the period 1992-1996 there were 953 heroin-related fatalities. Heroin-related deaths increased substantially from 152 in 1992 to 226 in 1996. Twenty per cent of deaths occurred outside the metropolitan region, with the Illawarra having the largest number of deaths outside Sydney.

The increase in the number of deaths outside Sydney was greater than that which occurred in the metropolitan area - 230 per cent as opposed to 134 per cent. However, Kings Cross and Cabramatta contributed 35 per cent of all New South Wales fatalities. Male fatalities amounted to 85 per cent, and the mean age was 31 years. In addition, 85 per cent of those who died were classified as dependent on the drug at the time of death, 5 per cent had recently been released from prison, 2 per cent died in custody, 3 per cent were involved in methadone maintenance and 5 per cent committed suicide.

Of those deaths, 61 per cent occurred in a home setting - 46 per cent in their own home and 15 per cent in the home of a friend or member of the family. Only 12 per cent occurred in a street or park or in bushland. This suggests that education of family members would be likely to greatly increase survival rates. The other interesting thing is that only 15 per cent were identified as having died instantly on heroin administration and more than a quarter of the deaths, 26 per cent, took longer than one hour to occur.

No intervention took place in 79 per cent of fatal cases. The majority of cases, that is 76 per cent, involved heroin with other drugs: alcohol 46 per cent; benzodiazepines 27 per cent; anti-depressants 7 per cent and cocaine 7 per cent. In only 24 per cent of cases was morphine the sole drug detected. The study revealed that males were more likely to have ingested alcohol - 49 per cent compared with 25 per cent of females - whereas females were more likely to have taken benzodiazepines - 41 per cent compared with 17 per cent of males.

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre suggests the following approaches to curb the number of overdoses: education of users on the dangers of mixing heroin with other drugs; the provision of safe injecting rooms; the expansion of methadone maintenance services; the distribution of naloxone directly to heroin users; and an improvement in responses by witnesses to overdoses.

However, this bill provides that one treatment centre will be open seven hours a day, seven days a week - 49 hours per week. The New South Wales Users and AIDS Association Inc [NUAA] is concerned that the establishment of a restricted trial of only one medically safe injecting centre is the narrowest possible approach. The association believes a multisite approach would be preferable. That would provide a larger quantitative pool by which to demonstrate effectiveness in the reduction of overdoses and enable the tracking of pathways to treatment.

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The association believes that legislation should provide for the possibility of other organisations applying to responsible authorities for licences within the 18-month period, although licences would only be granted on the basis that the conditions set out in new section 36F had been met. The legislation should provide for possible extension of a trial licence, and the capacity to grant further licences once the trial and review are complete.

The trial licence must be continued beyond 18 months. The provision in new section 36E (2) entitles responsible authorities to refuse an application for a licence "for any or no reason". It is submitted that accountability and transparency must be present in government decision-making. New section 36E (2) does not allow for that. The Australian Democrats believe that conditions should be set and that licences should not be refused "for any or no reason". We are also concerned that no-one under the age of 18 will be able to use safe injecting rooms, while a child over the age of 16 may have access to a needle and syringe program.

Children over the age of 16 who have access to needle and syringe programs must be referred to the Department of Community Services. It is anomalous that a 16-year-old child who has obtained injecting equipment is unable to use that equipment in a safe environment. Any public health measure that is good for adults should also be good for 16-year-old children. New section 36P (1) requires that an act or omission must be done in a "reckless or grossly negligent manner" to incur civil liability in connection with the conduct of a licensed injecting centre. NUAA submits:
    . . . the same standard of care should apply to those involved in the safe injecting centre as applies to any other health service. The State and those operating the centre should be covered by the same standards of liability as the rest of the community.

After all, this is a professional service. In these areas a minimalist approach is evident and injecting rooms will be extremely tightly controlled. Honourable members might say that this project, which is new and innovative, has to be carefully evaluated. We are all scientists and this is new ground. Justification for the opening of an injecting room for only seven hours was provided to me in a letter from the Special Minister of State, the Hon. J. J. Della Bosca, in response to letters from a number of members on the crossbenches.

The Minister said that in some areas in Switzerland injecting rooms were open for only seven hours a day. The point is that, as there are a number of injecting centres in that country, addicts can move between injecting rooms in a relatively small geographical area, thus giving themselves longer periods at injecting rooms where they can inject drugs. However, the bottom line is that more injecting rooms are needed in more areas, and those injecting rooms should be open for longer periods. We are to have one trial centre operating for 49 hours a week.

Presumably, not many people - probably fewer than 10 staff - would be needed to operate that centre. Let us be scientific and ensure that they justify their effectiveness statistically. What is happening in the area of crime and punishment? Alternatives to custody will cost $39,978,000; assessment and classification and the development of inmates in our prison system, $72,373,000; and containment and care, which involve the gaols, $328,072,000.

An amount of $328 million has been allocated to run the gaols and to build a number of new gaols, and that figure does not include juvenile justice centres. However, the Government is saying that it can staff this centre for only seven hours a day and employ only one staff member and that it all has to be done scientifically. All we have heard from Government members is a lot of rhetoric about offenders, righteousness, and putting offenders in gaol without conducting any cost-benefit analysis.

Does putting people in gaol actually work? Is it the cheapest way to solve our social problems? We have no literature about these problems, yet the Government is spending $328 million on programs without conducting any scientific evaluation at all. The Government is not even pretending that this program is necessary. It has said that the centre can operate only for a few hours because a scientific evaluation has to be conducted over the next 18 months. All we have heard from Government members is rhetoric.

Some honourable members referred anecdotally to someone who was injured, and suddenly we are all for truth in sentencing and increasing the number of inmates in our gaols. Of all those who work in a gaol, a gaol administrator would be one of the most respected. A gaol administrator is of the opinion that about 35 per cent of people should stay in gaol forever because they could not be rehabilitated; that the rest of them basically need a more supportive environment and the sooner they are released the better for all concerned.

In the next few days this Chamber will debate the recently released hepatitis C report, which refers
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to the incubation of hepatitis C in gaols because of shared syringes and needles. Hepatitis C, a relatively fatal disease, incurs huge treatment costs and immense human misery, basically because some drugs find their way into prisons. That report makes certain recommendations to try to fix that problem, for example, the use of clean syringes and needles in prisons.

Those recommendations will be far too radical for this Government, so hepatitis C will continue to spread, at great detriment to our society. Government members have a totally unintelligent approach to the drug problem in this State. We have a massive cumulative allocation of resources and even more gaols being built without the slightest sensible experimentation or cohort studies to determine whether these programs will work, and the Government is taking a miserly approach by allowing the operation of only one part-time centre.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: How much is it going to cost with 10 staff?

The Hon. Dr A. CHESTERFIELD-EVANS: It will represent a negligible cost to this State. The Australian Democrat’s drug policy at the last election - which I contested - is available on http://www.democrats.org.au. I will not take up the time of the House by reading all that policy, but the specific policies are as follows:
    •The provision of heroin to registered addicts
    •Provision of safe injecting facilities
    •Expanded treatment programs
    •Greatly increased funding for community based support for children at risk, the mentally ill and other vulnerable groups
    •Further decriminalization of possession
    •School and community focused drug education programs.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Who is calling for this?

The Hon. Dr A. CHESTERFIELD-EVANS: That is Australian Democrats policy.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Free heroin.

The Hon. Dr A. CHESTERFIELD-EVANS: It relates to the provision of heroin to registered addicts. When something does not work it is necessary for governments to look at alternatives that might work rather than put more and more money into the gaol system. The punishment system does not work and there is no evidence that doing more will make it work. The Government must be courageous and increase the operating hours of treatment centres and safe injecting rooms. I do not support the proposal that such centres should be open for only seven hours a day.

That highly restricted operating period could skew the effective operation of such a trial. I foreshadow an amendment to be moved in Committee to increase opening hours to 15 hours a day. I will suggest the following opening times: 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m., and 6.00 p.m. to midnight. Drug users and addicts must be given different times at which they can access safe injecting rooms in order to maximise the effectiveness of the trial. Seven hours a day will be totally inadequate.

People injecting cocaine often inject between 10 and 30 times a day. I realise that many of the Swiss safe injecting rooms are open only seven hours a day, but the impact of that was much reduced due to the availability of multiple centres in cities such as Zurich. This information was outlined in a report by Kate Dolan and Alex Wodak into injecting rooms in Switzerland, which also pointed out that the operating hours at different centres in the same city were staggered to ensure maximum coverage. The Australian Democrats will support this bill but we are extremely disappointed that there is not a lot more on offer. We will try to increase the movement in this progressive direction.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI [11.59 a.m.]: The Drug Summit Legislative Response Bill replicates the Swiss experiment, because Swiss research has more respectability than the Dutch.

The Hon. D. J. Gay: Or the Germans.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Or those parts of Germany that have tried it. To put the Swiss experience into perspective, it is clear that they have a plan to deal with drugs. Switzerland is about the same size as New South Wales and has a population of about seven million. It is surrounded by a number of nations. Its aim is to reduce the number of new drug users and addicts, to increase the number of addicts that quit addiction, to reduce the damage to the health and social disintegration of users and addicts, to protect society from the harmful effects of drug problems, and to fight organised crime.

The Swiss have aims to combat their drug problem. Part of the plan goes towards law enforcement. They call it repression of drugs. In 1997 there were 44,698 violations - persons charged
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and convicted - of the narcotics law in Switzerland. Of that number, 8,000, or 8 per cent, were offences for trafficking in drugs and 10 per cent were for trafficking and using. Compare that with the pathetic situation in New South Wales. In the same year we had 3,336 total arrests - cases that did not necessarily end up in court - and 685 of those arrested were dealers. What a pathetic response by the New South Wales criminal justice and police systems!

Even in Victoria, which has a smaller population and less of a problem, 5,637 people were arrested for drug offences, of whom 1,901 were dealers. That is a considerably different position from our pathetic situation. The Commonwealth is doing its fair share of enforcing the law to achieve drug represssion, as the Swiss call it, and it is having great success. However, the Commonwealth has massively increased law enforcement funding. The previous Labor Government would not increase funds; instead, it hacked into the customs and excise budgets every time it needed money.

This Commonwealth Government and its customs Minister, Amanda Vanstone, have taken the bit between their teeth and are achieving huge results. On 24 October there was a report that cocaine seizures had increased from 78.2 kilograms to 292 kilograms and ecstasy seizures had increased from 32.5 kilograms to 289.2 kilograms. New South Wales has to attain those results if it is to achieve drug repression.

The Swiss Government spends 500 million francs, which is exactly the same as $500 million, on drug repression. How much is spent on drug repression in New South Wales from the total police budget of $1.3 billion? We no longer have a drug squad - what a pathetic response to the community’s concern about young people dealing with drugs! The issue is all about the availability of drugs, and this bill will seriously limit even further the present pathetic power of the police to reduce the drug trade in this State.

The Hon. J. H. Jobling: It will make it impossible for them.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: It will be impossible for honest police who want to do their job, and it will be impossible for honest patrol commanders who are prepared to use some of their allocated funds to solve this problem. What does this year’s State budget provide for policing? It provides less money than was spent last year. The screams were so loud that the Minister for Police had to go to the Treasurer, who gave him $40 million extra to tide him over. Where is the extra $400 million that would be equivalent funding for health services in New South Wales? The Government has not yet found that, but it grossly underallocated the police budget.

Funding for special agencies has been cut. In particular, $3.5 million has been cut from key crime agencies alone. That in turn reduces the ability of our police to fight the drug problem. The Government’s funding of the Police Service to fight this problem is absolutely pathetic. Switzerland allocates $500 million although it has a lesser drug problem, which I will demonstrate later. The age of heroin addicts in Switzerland has increased by one year every year for 10 years, and the average age of heroin addicts there is now more than 32. In New South Wales the average age of heroin addicts is around 18 years.

The Hon. J. H. Jobling: And going down.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: And going down rapidly. Positive results can be achieved if the right thing is done. The Government is dramatically reducing police funding and this is crippling any attempt to get young people onto the rehabilitation ladder. The Swiss have been very successful in achieving that aim. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile asked a question of the Treasurer about reports that the Government was taking urgent action to allocate extra funds for police, particularly on the North Coast of New South Wales. He asked:
    Is it a fact that as a result of budget cuts the Drug Enforcement Agency has been ordered to stop marijuana plantation raids and eradication, especially on the North Coast of New South Wales?

I confirm that that is the case. The Northern Star regularly reported that police were raiding the odd place, but more recently were doing nothing. What Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile asked about is relatively common on the North Coast. The Treasurer simply flicked the question and said he was advised that there would be no change to the programs. He said:
    In other words, New South Wales police officers will continue to target the supply and manufacture of illegal drugs in New South Wales, as one would expect.

Without any money, how can they possibly do that? The Government is sweeping that serious matter under the carpet. In a ministerial statement on 23 September the Special Minister of State, and Assistant Treasurer said:
    . . . the [people] must be caught and punished, and that drug addicts should be given the chance to break their habits and
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rehabilitate themselves. Within the $93 million package there is provision for a further 23,500 addicts to be treated and rehabilitated over the coming months and years.

I will refer to the treatment shortly. He further said:
    . . . police officers will continue their crackdown on drug dealers . . .

What crackdown? This Minister is either delusional, does not know the real world, or is simply misleading the Parliament. I hope he is not misleading the Parliament. I hope he is simply naive, but I hope also that he asks his colleague the Minister for Police what crackdown he is talking about. Nobody else in the State believes that there is a crackdown on drugs, even though the Drug Summit strongly called for that sort of action.

The main drug strategy for prevention in New South Wales is the Quit program. It comes under the auspices of the Drug Offensive, which is to be abandoned. The Drug Offensive Act 1987 was brought in by Barrie Unsworth in the dying days of his regime. However, that program will be scrapped under these new provisions.

Members of the Drug Offensive Council will be told to go away. They have known for years that the Swiss spend about $200 million annually on drug prevention. That is a staggering amount of money when one considers that the total budget for drug programs in New South Wales, including treatment and prevention, is about $68 million. I accept that this year the Government has marginally increased that amount and promised $100 million over four years. I and everyone else know that we do not have the people to provide treatment and detoxification.

A prevention strategy launched in 1994, an initiative of various labour union representatives responsible for the Italian migrant community, would be close to the heart of the Special Minister of State, and Assistant Treasurer. The campaign was based on the idea of harnessing the labour union network to reach the working environment, particularly that of immigrant workers. The campaign targeted alcohol, tobacco, drugs and AIDS and its pilot was very successful. A forum was attended by 600 people, two-thirds of whom were mainly Italian-speaking males. Such a forum would cost a lot of money.

What has this Government done in the workplace? What has it done in schools since it stopped funding the Rock Eisteddfod and communicating with young people through their music and performances? The amount of money spent on trying to stop young people from smoking has declined, and unfortunately the consequence is that the number of young women in New South Wales taking up smoking is skyrocketing. It is tragic to see this Government’s lack of direction or commitment to treating the problem of drugs and drug addiction.

When I was in Switzerland I received a document entitled "Evaluation of the Federal measures to reduce the problem related to drug use" which refers to primary prevention. The next step is secondary prevention, the role of drug courts and how professionals are trained. Where is the money to train professionals in the counselling and treatment of people with drug addiction? The Fairfield detoxification unit, opened before the election by Dr Refshauge, is still not functioning. However, I note that one of the Labor members in the lower House said he was looking forward to its opening. During the Drug Summit I visited the Fairfield detoxification unit and I can assure honourable members that it is complete. It has 20 in-patient beds, but no staff because no staff have been trained to operate the nursing model under which it will operate.

If one were to follow Dr Refshauge and, I presume, the new general Knowles, who has taken over, one could access the Fairfield detoxification unit. Alternatively, one could try to go to the detoxification unit in Lismore that was launched three years ago. There are also detoxification units at Orange and the Cumberland Centre at Westmead Hospital. But they are the only detoxification units in New South Wales funded by the State Government. How many treatment places would there be in New South Wales? I suppose there might be 60 beds in the public sector and about the same number of beds in the private sector.

The Drug Summit called for money to be spent on treatment and rehabilitation, but what have we got? We are getting an injecting room. We are not getting a detoxification unit. The unit in Lismore is not open, and it is not proposed to be opened for at least another year. When it does open will its focus be on alcohol or drugs?

I know that alcohol probably kills more people than drugs, and that cigarettes probably kill more people than alcohol. But what opportunities are there in New South Wales for people who wish to enter detoxification programs to get off drugs? The Drug Court is in place. The juvenile Drug Court diversion program is in place. But where is the money in the budget to pay for those who decide to go into a detoxification unit or a treatment program? I
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commend those who choose one form of treatment or another, and I commend the process of the Drug Court. But where are the programs? Where is the extra money?

The Hon. I. Cohen: It has been invested in the Olympics.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: As the Hon. I. Cohen said, it has probably been invested in the Olympics. But the more serious aspect is that the Government’s response to the call for treatment and detoxification arising from the Drug Summit is totally inadequate. Even if we tripled the amount of money, as suggested by the Opposition, we would not come close to meeting demand. The amount of money spent on training and professional education is totally inadequate.

The report I received when I was in Switzerland, to which I referred earlier, covers the years 1990 to 1996. Switzerland has a population of seven million, 1,750 of whom are currently in treatment. Switzerland has 15,000 methadone treatment places; New South Wales has 11,000 and climbing. The Government’s commitment to reviewing methadone clinics, their operation and accountability, as well as increasing the number of available places, is to be commended, but New South Wales has a long way to go to match the 15,000 methadone treatment places available in Switzerland.

The Hon. I. Cohen: Switzerland also has safe injecting rooms.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I will come to injecting rooms in a moment. The Government promised in the budget estimates to increase the number of places in the methadone program to 16,000 over four years. Switzerland has a lesser problem than New South Wales has right now.

The Hon. Janelle Saffin: Who pays for it? The Swiss Federal Government?

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Switzerland has only one Government.

The Hon. Janelle Saffin: Because it has a Federation of sorts.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Yes, but it has one Federal Government that effectively provides all the funding for the cantons. A survey in Switzerland revealed that in 1997, 27.1 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 39 had used any drug at least once. The New South Wales figure would be at least double that. We have double the number of those who have used drugs once, and therefore double the problem. In Switzerland, 1.3 per cent of people have tried heroin at least once. That figure would be a gross underestimate for New South Wales, but I do not have those figures with me. In Sweden, which has a much similar approach to the Swiss -

The Hon. I. Cohen: No! It is not a similar approach. Half of the users in Sweden left because of the Government’s attitude.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: In terms of education, availability of treatment, detoxification programs -

The Hon. I. Cohen: They send them out to an island.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: This study shows that lifetime prevalence of drug use in Sweden for 16- to 29-year-olds is 9 per cent, compared with 52 per cent for 14- to 25-year-olds in Australia, whereas in the previous year the figures were 2 per cent for Sweden and 33 per cent for Australia.

The Hon. I. Cohen: Alcohol use would be included in that figure.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: No, these figures are for drug use. Estimated dependent heroin users per million of population are 500 for Sweden and 5,000 to 16,000 for Australia. A different approach shows different results. Other honourable members might not appreciate that many addicts in Sweden take amphetamines, not heroin. I asked the reason for that and was told that people in Sweden need uppers in winter, not downers. Therefore, the figures can be a little misleading in that regard.

In Australia the figure would be worse for the 29-year-old age group. These are comparable figures provided in News Weekly, "Drug Policy: a tale of two countries" by Dr Lucy Sullivan. This is an impressive study. Property crime and violence is usually a natural flow-on from the use of drugs, and Australia is streets ahead in that regard. On the other hand, in 1996 the number of amphetamine treatments in Switzerland was 15,382 and the number of in-patient treatment programs aimed at abstinence was 2,100. The number of heroin-assisted programs was 1,000.

There is a balance with the two approaches. The number of places for detoxification and
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rehabilitation residential sites in Switzerland was 1,750, which explains why Switzerland is spending 400 million Swiss francs - one franc is equal to one Australian dollar - per annum on treatment, a real commitment to the citizens of Switzerland. The Commonwealth Government under John Howard has now allocated an additional $500 million over four years for drug treatment. This is the first additional funding for drug treatment ever provided by the Commonwealth for community organisations.

The Hon. I. Cohen and I visited the Buttery, an organisation on the North Coast that is thankfully funded by the Commonwealth and does a fantastic job. It has barely 20 places, and unfortunately it is the only residential program in country New South Wales. Where is Country Labor on this issue? The Hon. Janelle Saffin is a regular visitor to the Buttery and is highly supportive of it, and staff speak highly of her involvement. I am also aware that the Hon. I. Cohen, the Hon. R. S. L. Jones and other honourable members have visited and seen the good work carried out at the Buttery.

I was most impressed with the Swiss programs I saw, most of which were abstinence programs that support rehabilitation into the community. When people leave the Buttery after a six- or nine-month program, they are provided with accommodation in town, support and counselling. That is why the Commonwealth is spending money on rehabilitation. I would be the first to suggest that $500 million over four years is not nearly enough but it is better than what is provided by the New South Wales Government, and it is better than spending large moneys on safe injecting rooms - and I have some costings on that.

I have informed the House of the number of arrests relating to drug use and trafficking. The Swiss decided to trial injecting rooms, and most of the cantons in Switzerland have injecting rooms that operate for about seven hours a day, four days a week, and in some cases on a fifth day for women only, which is a good idea. The aim - which is possibly the aim of the trial in Kings Cross - is to give addicts primary care for their addiction, their health and their housing, and to counsel them if possible.

Those centres cost about $1.2 million per annum to operate four days a week. As far as I am aware they are day-time operations, and some are open on an extra day for women. Swiss public sector employees are not highly paid. In Australia, 10 staff operating at Kings Cross for seven hours a day, including the cost of assessment, will cost vastly more than that. This experiment might be worth while if $1.2 billion or $1.4 billion were available for education, primary prevention, treatment and drug repression, on which the Swiss spend seven million francs.

Because only $68 million is spent in New South Wales on drug treatment, primary prevention and education, on top of a small amount for police, we have a higher prevalence of drug use and far fewer arrests, which is appalling. If the Government wants to do a cost-benefit analysis, $1.2 billion or $1.4 billion allocated to detoxification, enforcement, primary education and secondary prevention methods will save more lives. I am sorry that the Special Minister of State, and Assistant Treasurer was not in the Chamber when I spoke about the Italian immigrants in Switzerland, a fantastic and well-funded program.

I have an excellent article from the public health bulletin by Kate Dolan, research fellow for the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. She undertook an assessment of injecting rooms in Switzerland that were established to prevent the spread of HIV. A very small percentage of our intravenous drug users are HIV positive, and we are very proud of that.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Why do we have such a low rate?

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Because in 1988 a very important series of programs was instituted. Methadone programs were instituted big time; we went into education programs big time; we went into needle or syringe exchange programs big time, and we went into an enormous advertising campaign. The results of all that, which I was proud to tell people I met in Montreal and Washington as I globe-trotted around the world to Sweden and Switzerland, is that less than 3 per cent of those who have contracted AIDS or HIV in this country are women, and many of those were not intravenous drug users but contracted the disease through blood transfusions before an adequate test had been devised.

In Switzerland up to 50 per cent of intravenous drug users are HIV positive. That is completely different to the record in Australia. Here intravenous drug users account for probably 5 per cent of HIV positive patients, and, though I am not certain, the rate could be as low as 2 per cent. The statistics indicate that many of those who contracted AIDS did so through sexual transmission. Switzerland adopts its approach because 50 per cent of its drug users are HIV positive.

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One can understand why Swiss authorities want to get drug users into clinics: if they are HIV positive it is a good opportunity to treat them and give them counselling and support to try to stop the spread of AIDS. The situation in Switzerland is completely different to that in Australia. I wonder whether the Special Minister of State was aware of information published in the New South Wales Health public health bulletin, volume 10, No. 6, and therefore available to the Government.

The study group visited Zurich and Basel and discovered that approximately 100 clients a day visit centres in those cities. Within a one-year period, at three centres in Zurich about 68,000 injections were done, 3,000 abscesses were treated, 22 clients were resuscitated, and 10 ambulance calls were attended. Supervised treatment of 3,000 abscesses in those clinics indicates that drug users probably did not have clean needles when they took their doses elsewhere. The making of 10 ambulance attendance calls and the resuscitation of 22 clients probably is an indication that the clinics did not have naloxone, a drug usually carried by ambulances.

The study showed a significant increase in the proportion of clients reporting, during the study period, their first injection using a sterile needle or syringe. For many clients of the Zurich and Basel injecting clinics it was the first time they had ever used a sterile syringe. That is staggering because in New South Wales sterile syringes or needles have been available since 1987. Switzerland does not have a needle exchange program, unlike New South Wales.

The Hon. I. Cohen: The National Party supported it.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I am a strong supporter, but this is a completely anomalous situation.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: None of us brought the people with us.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I do not believe that, but I will debate it with the Special Minister of State at another time. In New South Wales we persisted because we knew that it had to be done. The Swiss do not understand the need for such a program and 50 per cent of their intravenous drug users have HIV. God knows the incidence of hepatitis C in Switzerland; the rate in New South Wales is climbing. In Switzerland, in addition to the lack of a clean needle program, a person wanting access to an injecting room must demonstrate that he or she is over 16 years of age and has a long-term injecting history of at least one year. In Switzerland, people who have attended a clinic for more than a year and have been injecting may have never used a sterile syringe. What a joke, yet the Government is trying to follow the Swiss example.

In some areas, New South Wales is streets ahead of the Swiss and in other areas we are streets behind the Swiss. Switzerland set up injecting rooms to provide clean syringes - New South Wales has already organised that - and to try to stop the spread of AIDS, which has almost been successfully achieved in Australia. The Swiss spend money on programs rather than mouthing words; we mouth words but do not spend the money to address the problem. I hope that as a result of this debate the Government will rethink its position and try to provide estimates of the clinic’s operation costs. Does the Minister have an estimate of the operation cost of the clinic?

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: I will deal with it during my reply.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: He does not have the costs, and he did not present the costs during his second reading speech, either.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: I did not say that.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: The Special Minister of State did not state the cost during his second reading speech; nor did he disclose the contract with the Sisters of Charity, the cost of the assessment at the end of the program, the name of the person who has drawn up the protocol, the manner of that person’s appointment or the details of the operation of the clinic. None of that information has been made publicly available. Honourable members are being asked to take those matters on trust by a Government that is more than secretive about just about everything, including Olympic Games tickets.

Honourable members are expected to give the Government a free hand by supporting the bill. I do not support the bill, nor do I trust the Government in relation to it. The Drug Summit communique provides that the people of New South Wales will have a drug trial, following a majority vote in this State. The trial will be subject to a few conditions.

The first condition is that the trial clinic will have to be approved by a local government authority, supported by extensive community consultation akin to the consultation outlined in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act for the
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drawing up of a drug plan for the municipality or shire in which trials are proposed to be implemented. That was the decision of the Drug Summit, even though participants knew that that type of consultation would take about a year and a half to implement. Unfortunately, that degree of consultation has not occurred. The Government backflipped and decided to conduct an experiment or trial. The Government has decided to conduct a trial in King’s Cross, supported by the Sisters of Charity under contract. The clinic will not be operated by a community organisation.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: That is a community organisation.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: The Sisters of Charity are a corporation.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: They are a religious order.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: And a very secret corporation at that. I wonder how long the Sisters of Charity will keep their contract in light of the continuing pressure that is being brought to bear by Catholics across the State. This is an order of charity that will not allow in its institutions the prescription of the pill yet they are supervising the injection of heroine. That is quite staggering.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Their role is to implement.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: The Special Minister of State is quite right. I can understand the Sisters of Charity running a treatment or rehabilitation program for addicts. This is not a treatment program.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: You don’t know that. We are trying to trial it.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: This is a program to allow people to bring heroin and inject it.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Read the Summit recommendations. It is a gateway to treatment, and that was made very clear in the second reading speech.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: The Sisters of Charity will be asked to supervise people injecting heroine of unknown quality into their veins and into their bodies, yet they will not allow people to use the pill, which is taken orally and is of high quality. I ask the Minister to inform the House who will be on the evaluation committee, what sort of evaluation will take place, what the protocol will be and who will supervise the protocol.

During my last speech on this subject matter I spoke about my previous round-the-world trip examining the drug problem. The Minister will remember that I mentioned that the United States Federal Government in Washington was spending huge amounts on checking that the programs that were being studied in the drug courts were within their protocols.

During the evaluation process who will check that the protocol is signed off? No-one has seen that protocol, so the Government will have to be trusted to comply with the program. That necessary extra cost may not have been factored in. What end point is the Government looking at? Who will do the assessment? I suppose some people such as Dr Wodak will volunteer, but I want to make sure that there are community representatives on the assessment program.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Are doctors needed on the assessment program?

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Yes, it needs doctors, but the Drug Summit taught me that a protocol, even though designed by doctors, will not necessarily answer questions that the community wants answered, for example, about outcomes concerning a rise in gamma globulin levels. Drug users want to know whether they and their families will be healthier, and whether they will have a better life as a result of the program.

I want to be sure that the program receives input from highly intelligent members of the community, from those who made outstanding contributions to the Drug Summit, on both sides of the debate, and that it will not just be a panel of hand-picked experts. I also want to know what outcomes the Minister expects. In addition to my research and study of the Swiss model, I looked at the Swedish model for a totally abstinent society.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: The Swedish do not drink?

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: They certainly do. Alcohol is a huge problem in Sweden. The Swedes buy a large percentage of Jacobs Creek wine, but that does not hurt them. Sweden put Jacobs Creek on the international map. Sweden has high taxes on alcohol, but that does not mean that consumption is high. They live in a particularly difficult environment with very long winters and
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short periods when they can be out and about. Their treatment of the problem - their long-term prohibition process goes back to the 1930s - has been outstanding. I have already given figures for successful drug treatment.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Sweden is a long way from Asia.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Yes, it is, but they have been relatively successful in their aim to be a relatively drug-free society. Australia, on the other hand, has no aim, no written plan, no money for treatment, no money for repression, and is awash with drugs.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Most kids there would have been offered heroin or marijuana.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Drugs that were already inside the country.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: If they are not already there they cannot be easily brought in.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Drugs can be brought into Asia easily.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Drugs can be brought in very easily.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Yes, by ferry between many islands. In Asia infiltration by sea is a big problem, as it is around Australia. Let us not kid ourselves: the Swedes have similar drug importation problems, but their seizure rates are very high. Sweden has a strong police presence and its police are very concerned about drugs. Their health workers go to rave parties and pick up fallen kids. New South Wales Health does the same and is criticised. Perhaps the Minister was right when he said that we should have brought members of the community along with us. New South Wales Health is represented at every rave party and sleaze ball to try to help people who are ill or injured.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: What about the bachelor and spinster balls?

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I do not know whether health workers are invited to the bachelor and spinster balls, but when my son went to one recently, New South Wales Health was represented by the local public health unit team. They must be able to reach the kids when needed. Given the few dollars available in public health that is good health planning. That is what is needed. I am concerned that the Hon. Dr A. Chesterfield-Evans proposes an increase in the centre’s hours of operation. The Hon. Dr P. Wong would agree that as the effect of heroin lasts between two and four hours it is a relatively short-acting narcotic. If the clinic operates from 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. and from 6.00 p.m. to midnight - only 14 hours a day - what will happen between midnight and 8.00 a.m.? That is when drug users hang out, because nothing else is happening.

Methadone clinics are available during those hours to catch people going to and from work. There is an excellent methadone clinic near Central Railway Station that opens between 5.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m., closes until 6.00 p.m. and remains open until 11.00 p.m. Those are good hours in which to provide methadone, which has a long action time and carries people through to the next day. Heroin has a short action time. If the injecting room operates for seven hours a day, seven days a week, that will be extremely expensive. When will users be able to access it? At this stage I will not support the amendment proposed by the Hon. Dr A. Chesterfield-Evans, because it is nonsense.

I have not heard much support for this by the churches or groups that voted for it at the Summit. This will be a trial - the Government is very much into trials. When I met with the so-called deputy drug czar in London I was told that Britain will have injecting rooms. The British used to have a free heroin prescription program, but that program no longer exists. The British have learnt their lesson. Does the Minister know how many people in Switzerland are able to get free heroin? To get it they have to show that they have been through two rehabilitation programs within a year, that they have failed, and that they continue to use heroin.

Of the seven million people in Switzerland only 720 have qualified for free heroin. The Hon. Dr A. Chesterfield-Evans spoke about giving free heroin to people. I wonder what age cutoff he would place on that. I am concerned about a couple of matters in the bill. What happened to the Drug Offensive in New South Wales? It is dead. Schedule 4 to the Act killed it stone dead and replaced it with nothing. There is no community-based organisation and there has not been any official appointment under an Act to establish the Drug Offensive. People have been appointed by the Government to do a real job, but the Government has not consulted the Drug Offensive for a year and has abolished it.

Who does the Government listen to? Who advises the Special Minister of State and the Premier about drug matters? I am sure they do not speak to Craig Knowles, for he is well out of the loop. So
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who do they consult? I would love to know. If we knew who participated in the Drug Offensive we could talk to them, but we have no idea what advice the Special Minister of State, and Assistant Treasurer is getting, or from whom he is getting it.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: I will tell you in reply.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: The Minister will tell me in reply - that is good. And he is going to tell me the cost too. That will be fascinating. I am concerned about a number of matters in the bill. However, I will deal with them only briefly because the Leader of the Opposition has dealt with them substantially. The responsible authorities for the licensing of injecting centres - the Commissioner of Police and the Director-General of the Department of Health - can refuse an application for a licence for any or no reason. They can say no.

Where is accountability in that provision? They do not have to give a reason for their approval and they do not have to give a reason for their disapproval. Is that open government? If one asks under the freedom of information legislation why an application was approved or not approved, the answer will come back, "I did not have a reason, that is how I felt on the day." There is no accountability under new section 36E.

New section 36I prohibits the admission of children to injecting centres but makes no mention of proof-of-age cards or anything like that. What happens if the person running the injecting centre says he thought someone was 18? A trader who sells tobacco to a person he mistakenly thinks is 18 can be fined $5,000. The young person might have dressed up to look 50, but the seller cannot use that as an excuse. A person who sells alcohol to someone under the age of 18 faces a big fine; the minor who buys it does not. What provision is made for a proof-of-age card, and what is the penalty for admission of a child to an injecting centre?

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Some might not carry even a driver’s licence.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: That is true, but who will be responsible if a person under 18 is admitted? Who will be guilty of an offence? Will the person who goes into the centre be guilty of an offence? I think not. New section 36P provides that a person, including the licensee, the State or any Minister of the Crown in right of the State, is not liable for anything done or omitted to be done in connection with the conduct of a licensed injecting centre, as long as it is done or omitted to be done in good faith for the purpose of executing the proposed part and was not done in a reckless or grossly negligent manner.

Tobacconists and those who market alcohol, the most popular drug in New South Wales, would like to have that provision in the Acts that cover their business activities. If they sell tobacco or alcohol to anyone who is under 18 - even someone aged 17½ - they are fined $5,000. The Health Department actually takes kids to these places, they pretend to buy, and the department prosecutes on that basis. I approve of that.

The Hon. Janelle Saffin: But this is about treatment. They are two different issues.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: The Minister says that no child, that is, a person under the age of 18, will be admitted to that part of a licensed injecting centre that is used for the purpose of administering drugs. Is the Minister saying that he will allow 14-year-olds or 16-year-olds to be admitted to other parts of a centre that are not being used for that purpose? The person responsible for the centre could say that he thought they needed treatment so he let them in.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: We said we will not.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: The Minister says they will not let them in. However, if a licensee does not act in a negligent or reckless manner but admits a person who he knows is 14 and desperately needs treatment, what will the Minister do about that, and where is the sanction? There is no sanction. The person in charge of the centre cannot be charged as long as he is not acting recklessly or grossly negligently.

The Hon. Janelle Saffin: How many times do you think this is going to happen?

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I think it will happen a lot. The average age of injecting-heroin users in this State is about 18, and the Hon. Janelle Saffin knows that. That means that half the people are under 18 and half are over 18.

The Hon. I. Cohen: The average age is going up.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: The average age is going down.

The Hon. I. Cohen: In the Netherlands it is going up and in Australia it is going down.

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The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: The average age in Switzerland is going up dramatically each and every year.

The Hon. I. Cohen: Because of this policy.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: No, not because of this policy. Nobody on the international scene will talk about the Dutch experience because most of their research is very dirty. The Swiss research, which has been open and available to people as it went along, shows that the average age of Swiss users is going up each and every year. In New South Wales the average age is 18, so half of the people who use heroin in this State, who would wish to access this centre, will be under the age of 18. The Minister says children will not be allowed in, but new section 36P of the bill provides that if they do get in no-one will do anything about it anyway because the licensees are not guilty of an offence as long as they are not recklessly or grossly negligent.

The Minister will remember our discussions about the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act specifically with regard to the Drug Summit recommendations, about how to establish policy and how to establish an injecting room. I draw the Minister’s attention to new section 36Q, which provides that development for the purposes of a licensed injecting centre during the trial period does not require the consent of part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

The Government is repeating what Neville Wran said with regard to Darling Harbour: Do not worry about Darling Harbour, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act will not be used for it, but if anyone wants to put up a dunny in their country backyard they will have to get approval under the Act. The average person has to comply with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act; the Government does not.

The Government legislates to avoid its own Act of Parliament. That is reprehensible. That was the great corruption of the Wran Government. Darling Harbour is testament to the avoidance of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act which was much trumpeted by Bob Carr who, I dare say, had to write the approval exempting Darling Harbour.

The Hon. I. Cohen: Someone must have been on drugs then.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: No, they were not. They knew exactly what they were doing. In the Drug Summit communique the Government committed itself to try one of these injecting rooms.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Darling Harbour is a great initiative.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: It was, and it has only recently started making big money. That is most important for the State. Darling Harbour was another huge investment in city New South Wales by a very arrogant Labor Government. While that was being built power stations were falling apart and there were blackouts throughout Sydney. The Government did not look after its infrastructure.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Two power stations were being built - Eraring and Mount Piper.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Too late. We had blackouts throughout the winter of 1987, and I remember them vividly. They were called Barrie blackouts. Neville Wran, who put the aluminium smelter into Newcastle - a Labor seat - also developed this project down here. It was a white elephant when we came to government in 1988, but it is not now. It is an important, booming centre for the State of New South Wales. The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, which was meant to guide the development of injecting rooms, has been totally ignored by the Government.

The Hon. Janelle Saffin: What does this have to do with the bill?

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: Because the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act is referred to in new section 36Q. That section provides that the injecting rooms will not be subject to the Act. The Government says everyone else has to comply with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, but it does not. If the Government finds it too difficult to undertake consultation to assess the impact of this proposal on the local people, it just will not bother. I quote from the bill, which states:
    Proposed section 18A -

an interesting section, which will prevent anybody else from advertising -
    provides that a person who is responsible for premises is guilty of an offence if the person advertises or holds out in any way, or causes, suffers or permits any other person to advertise or hold out in any way, that the premises are available for the use of the administration of prohibited drugs.

I assume that that will not apply. I assume - and I do not have the whole Act available to me; it is
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sometimes hard to get a copy of the whole Act - that this will stop anybody else from advertising an injecting room. However, will it prevent the government-sponsored injecting room from advertising? The Government’s answer to the drug crisis is the establishment of an injecting room. Will this provision allow the government-sponsored injecting room to display neon signs advertising its availability?

Will the Government distribute leaflets and advertise, for example, in western Sydney? The Government will have to advertise widely. People travelling from Hornsby or even from Lismore to the Kings Cross injecting centre will have an excuse if they are picked up with drugs. They will place the drugs in their pockets and say, "I received this advertisement in the post today and I am going to the injecting room at Kings Cross. I have my stuff and I am ready to go there." Nothing can be done about that sort of situation.

The Hon. Janelle Saffin: Why not?

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: It is a legitimate defence for anyone travelling with drugs.

The Hon. Janelle Saffin: Not from Lismore.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: There is no reference in the Act to location. There is no fence around the injecting room. Anybody from Hornsby or Lismore could visit that injecting room. More importantly, people do not have to demonstrate that they are addicts before they are able to use the place; they could be indulging in their first hit. I could say, "I bought this heroin. I have never taken drugs before. I will travel to the injecting room to try it. I have never tried it before and I want to try it where it is safe." The Government would approve of that.

The Hon. Janelle Saffin: There is a degree of interpretation.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: No, there is not. A person could say, "I am travelling to this place so I am entitled to carry a certain amount of drugs." Another matter about which I am concerned relates to the amendments to the Young Offenders Act. I understand that a caution is not just a flick on the wrist or a warning on the run; a caution is a formal process.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: You are not supporting your leader, the Hon. M. J. Gallacher?

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I did not say I that I was not supporting the Leader of the Opposition. I understand that the issuing of a caution is a formal process. Young offenders who are cautioned have to return to a police station 10 days later with their parents. There are no provisions in the Young Offenders Act requiring that young offenders are to be counselled. Opposition members are keen to ensure that young offenders are not just told, "If you do this again we will thump you and put you in gaol." We require the availability of counselling or treatment services after the formal cautionary process.

There are no provisions to that effect in this Act. A juvenile is picked up, screaming for help; he has to attend a police station with his parents; and he is formally cautioned by the police. What does he do then? No counselling is involved, and no money has been allocated to provide counselling services. I ask the Minister to respond to those important concerns when he replies to debate on the second reading of this bill. I am aware that the Opposition proposes to move amendments in relation to that matter.

With those few words - I have confined my comments on this issue even though I have undertaken a huge amount of research - I cannot stress how implacably opposed I am to this whole process; to the message that it is sending; and to the money that is being spent without conducting a cost-benefit analysis. If the Government had spare money for drug treatment, where would it spend it? This is a bad use of research and it is a poor choice.

It is not consistent in any way with the process that the Minister said he would adopt as a result of the Drug Summit, and it is not consistent with other things that this Government has said it would do. I am astonished that this has happened, and I am amazed at how secretive the deal with the Sisters of Charity has been. The costings of this program have not been made available to us. We do not know who is drawing up the protocol or who is on the assessment panel.

[The Deputy-President (The Hon. A. B. Kelly) left the chair at 1.06 p.m. The House resumed at 2.30 p.m.]

The Hon. I. COHEN [2.30 p.m.]: I am pleased to congratulate the Government on introducing the Drug Summit Legislative Response Bill for the establishment of a trial of a medically supervised injection centre. I emphasise that the
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concept is a trial. It is a timely procedure and something in which I have taken an interest as a member of the Greens and as a member of the safe injecting rooms committee that some time ago went to a considerable amount of effort to investigate this matter. It is significant tonight that what we are debating is an initiative first suggested as an outcome of the royal commission by Justice Wood, who had the onerous task of assessing the New South Wales Police Service.

That the royal commission found that police corruption was a reality of the times and often associated with the drug industry signalled the fact that it was vital to consider our management of the drug issue in an integrated manner. The approach to drugs in society as a criminal issue has been an abject failure. We are faced with a significant social and health issue. Whichever way we manage it, we must consider the duty of care and responsibility.

We must address also the issues of the loss of lives, impacts on families and the community, public health risks, the imprisonment of people and the subsequent problems associated with overcrowded gaols. The Greens have believed always that the issue of drugs in society is a health and social issue. It is important that we are now able to maturely address this with a focus on saving lives, protecting public health and providing users with a second chance in life to rehabilitate and manage their lives for the betterment of society.

We have a duty of care to manage their lives for them, to keep them alive long enough that they come through the other end as rehabilitated citizens. I have seen that happen. The case can be proven with this step by the Government. I strongly support the bill as a step in the right direction. It presents an opportunity to focus on a different approach, to acknowledge the obvious aspects of the impact of drugs in society, and to compassionately and sensibly examine options that could produce positive results here as they have done overseas.

Some people find it offensive to accept that the drug problem exists in society. They believe that we should not condone the practice of drug use. I do not encourage drug use but I acknowledge its impacts. We must not lose sight of our responsibility to act in a manner that addresses the known facts. People are dying from drug use and that impacts on the families and friends of drug users. We have a responsibility to access all potential options for managing drugs in society.

The provision of a medically supervised injecting room is an option that deserves consideration. I am proud that we have not walked away from the hard task of providing the necessary means of appropriately assessing that option. I was a member of the Joint Select Committee into Safe Injecting Rooms, which conducted an extensive consultative inquiry at State and national level. The committee travelled overseas to visit various currently operating establishments and spoke with a number of government agencies, health professionals, police operatives and legal professionals.

The committee’s inquiry was substantial and I am proud of its efforts in the rigorous investigation of this matter at both national and international level. It was a shame that as a result of political pressures at the time the committee did not achieve unanimity, but that reflects the nature of the issue. I give credit to the Hon. Ann Symonds, who was the Chair for the latter part of the inquiry. Mrs Symonds said in the foreword to the committee’s report:
    My personal belief is that there would be value in a trial to test the real benefits and costs to both injecting drug users and the community. Support for a trial in New South Wales came from public health officials, the NSW Law Society, the Australian Medical Association, the Bar Association, and parents who have suffered the death of a child, but there is understandable apprehension in some sections of the community.

It is significant that one of the recommendations from the Wood royal commission - in fact, the first cab on the rank of recommendations - was the establishment of a medically supervised injecting room. The commissioner said:
    At present, publicly funded programs operate to provide syringes and needles to injecting drug users with the clear understanding they will be used to administer prohibited drugs. In these circumstances to shrink from the provision of safe, sanitary premises where users can safely inject is somewhat short sighted. The health and public safety benefits outweigh the policy considerations against condoning otherwise unlawful behaviour. For these reasons the Commission favours the establishment of premises approved for the purpose and invites consideration of an amendment of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 to provide for the same.

The committee outlined in the body of its report some of the issues that were debated time and again. It is worth examining, in the executive summary, the arguments for the establishment or trial of a safe injecting room. At all times during the inquiry and up to the point of the introduction of this legislation we were talking about trials. The bill is not a lay down misère; it does not say one side wins and the other side loses. If information received about the trial is to the contrary, which I do not expect it to be, the fact remains that it is a trial process.
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Scientific wisdom should dictate that the trial should go ahead. Part of the executive summary outlining the arguments for states:
    The arguments for the establishment or trial of injecting rooms from a health perspective are: the potential to reduce fatal overdoses and reduce the transmission of blood-borne viral infections; such facilities may provide injecting drug users with better access to primary medical care and improve the likelihood of them accessing drug treatment programs; and injecting rooms may improve the occupational health and safety conditions of health workers and emergency service personnel.

From a social perspective the establishment of such a trial may lead to a reduction in the public nuisance aspect of injecting drug use. It may reduce the opportunity for police corruption, reduce the incidence of certain criminal activities, improve the likelihood of reintegration of injecting drug users into mainstream society, and provide a valuable point of contact with the most marginalised of injecting drug users. From an economic perspective, if modelled along the lines of a general health facility it may reduce the cost to the community associated with the treatment of overdoses and the treatment of people who contract blood-borne viral infections.

It may also reduce the social and economic cost to the community of injecting drug use because councils will spend less time and consequently less money removing discarded syringes from public places. The return for money spent on increased law enforcement does not appear to date to have been cost effective. The arguments for the establishment of such a trial from a legal perspective are that it would clarify the role to be adopted by police in relation to both those using and those running such establishments, and eliminate the need to pursue self-administration offences in the court, which would save police and court time.

The establishment of such a trial facility is the logical extension to what has been heralded throughout the world: needle exchange procedures that have limited the spread of the AIDS virus and hepatitis C, which is rampant among injecting drug users. Australia has been at the forefront in the prevention of such diseases. Commissioner Wood referred to the 1994 amendments to the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act, which laid the legislative foundation for the needle and syringe exchange program as an acknowledgment of the medical and social dimensions surrounding injecting drug use. Commissioner Wood said:
    At present, publicly funded programs operate to provide syringes and needles to injecting drug users with the clear understanding they will be used to administer prohibited drugs. In these circumstances to shrink from the provision of safe, sanitary premises where users can safely inject is somewhat short sighted. The health and public safety benefits outweigh the policy considerations against condoning otherwise unlawful behaviour. For these reasons the Commission favours the establishment of premises approved for this purpose and invites consideration of an amendment of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 . . .

Commissioner Wood recommended that:
    Consideration be given be given to the establishment of safe, sanitary injection rooms, under the licence or supervision of the Department of Health and to amendment of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985.

I regard the needle exchange program as the logical extension of the recommendations made by Commissioner Wood. The Hon. Peter Collins, when he was Leader of the Opposition, said:
    The spread of AIDS by intravenous drug users has become such a serious problem that some drastic and unpalatable action is needed, including a scheme to provide free needle and syringe exchanges to intravenous drug users. When the scheme was first announced by the Federal Minister for Health last year, I spoke against it because it might have been seen to make heroin addiction easier and safer. I emphasised the enormous moral dilemma facing the community when there are laws prohibiting the use and possession of needles and syringes for illegal purposes, while at the same time recognising the vital need to reduce AIDS transmission by heroin addicts using contaminated needles. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians supported the pilot needle exchange program.
    The bill before the House embodies a provision unanimously endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference in April 1987. Needle exchange schemes are supported by the widest cross section of experts in the AIDS field. In the light of all that expert evidence I conceded on 18 March that needle exchange programs are a necessary weapon in the war against AIDS.

Ms Wendy Machin, former member of Parliament, when speaking on behalf of the National Party, said:
    The National Party also supports the proposed legislation, recognising that it is an attempt to take some realistic steps in the prevention of AIDS . . . it is not a decision to come to lightly, particularly in view of the major step it takes in permitting a more liberal distribution of needles to addicts . . . Obviously if AIDS did not exist it would not be necessary to consider this matter. Certainly such a proposal would not be contemplated in view of the drug problem. However, we must be mindful of the reality and of the rapid increase in the incidence of AIDS brought about by the use of dirty needles. We must weigh up which is the lesser of the two evils: to refuse the distribution of clean needles and therefore risk the further rapid spread of AIDS, initially within the drug community and among prostitutes and then through them to the community at large; or to endeavour to protect the health of the addicts . . . by trying to ensure that they are not injecting AIDS antibodies into their bloodstreams along with other substances . . . We must consider also which of these evils has the potential to kill more Australians.

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Members from all political parties made similar strong statements. Such statements are well and truly due with the passage of time, the information we have and the fact that we are continuing to encounter similar problems some years further down the track. It was of great concern to me that the majority of members of the committee did not see things that way. They opted to step away from what I believed to be an avalanche of information and proof as to the efficacy of the establishment of injecting rooms.

However, the dissenting opinion of the Hon. Ann Symonds, John Mills, Clover Moore and myself on 16 February 1998 clearly led to a conclusion after consideration of the evidence and opinions expressed during the conduct of the inquiry. Having regard to Commissioner Wood’s recommendation, we four members of the committee made a number of recommendations, one of which was that a scientifically rigorous trial of safe injecting rooms be conducted in New South Wales as part of an integrated public health and safety approach to injecting drug use as proposed by Commissioner Wood in the Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service.

I will not go through the recommendations because they are available in the report. Six recommendations clearly supported medically supervised injection rooms, the concept of harm minimisation and an amendment to the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act to effect the recommendations. It is quite clear that the investigation, although it was laid to rest by many of the major players as yet another inquiry by a parliamentary committee, has come to life once again. It has well and truly proved itself. It is pleasing to note that the Government is moving on a number of the recommendations.

The Hon. D. F. Moppett: Not too many.

The Hon. I. COHEN: I think the honourable member will find it is the majority. As a response to significant community pressure and media exposure during the March election campaign the Government made a commitment to hold a Drug Summit. In May the Drug Summit was convened and proved to be a successful concept, despite some concerns regarding the degree of balance with participants and people left out of the process. I would like to commend members of the clergy for taking a brave stand in establishing a tolerance room in the Wayside Chapel.

I note also that the Reverend Ray Richmond, who took a very brave stand at that time, is in the gallery. He opened up that room despite the full force of the law landing on his doorstep. A considerably stressful legal process has ensued. I am pleased to hear that yesterday charges brought against him in relation to the tolerance room were dropped. It is appropriate that they were dropped as we move into debate on this issue. The Reverend Ray Richmond and his supporters are truly pioneers for a better way for many of those in society who are most in need.

Let us consider why this was a desperate measure. It is often those who work in the church and in areas such as Kings Cross who see the tragedy and anguish of those whose lives are in tatters due to the effects of drug use, and who have to provide much-needed services to those people. I have attended a number of services for families and friends of drug users who have died, and those emotional experiences have highlighted the inability of governments to manage the drug problem.

I extend my thanks to and appreciation of the ongoing work and commitment of Reverend Ray Richmond and Bill Crewes, who, along his other work, expends considerable energy helping those suffering the loss of loved ones from drug-related deaths. Recently I attended a service at the Uniting Church at Ashfield for relatives, partners and friends who have lost loved ones to this terrible problem, and it was a moving experience.

People such as Reverend Ray Richmond and Bill Crewes are pioneers, and I am pleased to see them in the public gallery, together with Tony Trimingham from Family and Friends. Tony has endured what most of us could not even begin to imagine - the loss of a child to drugs - and I have enormous respect for his commitment in trying to save others from such anguish.

Dr Alex Wodak from St Vincent’s Hospital is a major proponent of drug law reform and has been unswerving in his service to the community in seeking to promote these issues in a sound, scientific manner, both as a medical practitioner and as a scientist. The Hon. Ann Symonds also has invested considerable time in fighting the drug problem, both as a former member of this House and since leaving it, and her commitment to drug law reform remains undiminished. She bravely fights on.

I should like to extend to the Special Minister of State, and Assistant Treasurer my appreciation for the Government’s prompt response to concerns raised about the bill. The reply, although not totally agreeable, is a substantial move in the right direction. As a member of the Greens I have grave concerns about certain matters, including the fact
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that adequate time may not be allowed for a scientific assessment. Yesterday I received a letter from the Minister which stated:
    This issue concerns the wording of section 36A (1), which provides that the 18 month trial period will start on the commencement of new Part 2A. The Government is committed to running the trial over the full period of eighteen months, and the section has now been clarified to ensure the trial period will not commence until such time as the trial is ready to proceed.

I thank the Government for that. The Law Society of New South Wales raised concerns about the lack of clarification about the need to safeguard people from prosecution if they are within the specified area and in possession of an exempt quantity of a prohibited drug and/or equipment with the intention of self-administration. In reply the Minister stated:
    The use of appropriately guided police discretion will safeguard the rights of people using the facility without compromising law enforcement.

Hopefully the police will take a reasoned approach and take appropriate action or inaction, as the case may be. Concern has been expressed that new section 36A (2) (a) will limit the flexibility of the courts in relation to bail conditions by prescribing assessment, treatment and rehabilitation on the grant of bail. I support the Law Society’s view that it is unnecessary to amend the Bail Act in this way. Greater scope is needed for courts to extend the opportunity for appropriate services, as was recommended in the Drug Summit. The Minister stated:
    . . . the creation of a specific power to impose bail conditions requiring assessment and treatment services in some respects to formalise an existing practice. Care has been taken in drafting the provision to ensure that it does not inhibit the courts’ flexibility.

That is my concern:
    The provision will have the effect of reinforcing for the courts that drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation are legitimate and important goals for the justice system.

A further matter of concern relates to new section 45 (2) (a), which relates to the Correctional Centres Act. This section contradicts the position presented in the Drug Summit plan of action on page 78, which states:
    The Department of Corrective Services will also make its drug dog detector teams available to the Department of Juvenile Justice for targeted drug detection in juvenile justice centres.

I am disappointed that this decision has not been adopted in the legislation. The proposed bill appears to breach the United Nations rules for the protection of juveniles deprived of their liberty. I can only hope that this is not the case. The use of dogs to assist in maintaining good order and the security of a detention centre is of extreme concern and I certainly oppose that measure. However, if the intention is to follow the plan of action and use dogs for targeted drug detention, I would urge an amendment of the exposure draft to clarify this. In his letter the Minister said:
    The intention has always been that the role of dogs would be limited to assisting in the detection of drugs. The Bill has now been amended to make that clear, and I thank you for drawing attention to the matter. The dogs will only be used at the request of the Director General of the Department Juvenile Justice, and will be strictly administered under the Drug Dog Detector Unit’s Standard Operating Procedures. Only passive alert dogs will be used to search detainees.

The Minister and his advisers have acknowledged these significant issues, and hopefully the system will not be abused. I am less than happy that there is to be only one medically supervised injecting room. It is dangerous to restrict the trial to only one injecting room. It would be more appropriate to have injecting rooms in a number of areas. Notwithstanding that, I believe we should continue with the room in Kings Cross.

I should like to briefly mention a couple of points that were raised earlier. I have received briefing notes from the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform, of which I am a member, in association with the Drug Law Reform Foundation, which meets regularly and last met just over a week ago in Parliament House, Canberra. On the subject of safe injecting rooms the report states:
    The NSW government has decided to support the provision of a safe injecting room in Darlinghurst where addicts can legally take heroin they have brought with them. The Sisters of Charity medical staff from St Vincents Hospital will monitor users to prevent overdoses. The Sisters of Charity will run the 18-month trial.
    The President of the Drug Law Reform Foundation, Dr Alex Wodak, said "It is likely to save about 30 lives a year, substantially reduce ambulance costs, littering of used injecting equipment, injecting in public places and opportunities for police corruption. Although the European experience has been very favourable, this is still quite appropriately a trial."
    Major Brian Watters of the Salvation Army was critical of the setting up of a room where heroin of "unsafe quality and strength" would be used. Prescribed supply would assure quality and strength so he should heed the suggestion by the World Health Organisation that further research on heroin usage be pursued following recent Swiss trials.
    Newspaper columnist, Piers Akerman, (Telegraph 9/7/1999) said NSW Premier Bob Carr "appears to be wholeheartedly embracing that peculiarly Dutch concept of ‘gedogen’, the policy of tolerating or turning a blind eye to practices which are technically illegal . . . Unfortunately research into this grey
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policy area indicates it feeds criminal activity and hampers police efforts to fight crime."

I believe that honourable members should look at some of the facts. A collation of records from the United States and the Netherlands Bureau of Statistics and Drug Abuse institutes shows that the Dutch approach has achieved better results. The statistics I am about to cite were compiled from the National Institute of Drug Abuse Monitoring the Future study dated 20 December 1997, the Netherlands Institute of Health and Addiction key data 1997, the US Census Statistics 116th edition 1996, the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport Drug policy statement 1995, the US Bureau of Justice Statistics 1997, and the Statistics, Netherlands Yearbook 1998, page 434.

The statistics show that the category of lifetime prevalence of marijuana use in youth aged 12 to 18 was 38 per cent in the United States and 21 per cent in the Netherlands. In the category of past months prevalence of marijuana use in the same age group, the United States figure was 18 per cent and the Netherlands figure was 11 per cent. In the category of heroin users per 100,000 of population, the United States figure is 308 and the Netherlands figure is 160.

The statistics show also that the incarceration rate per 100,000 of population is 645 in the United States and 7.3 in the Netherlands. Per capita spending on drug-related law enforcement is $81 in the United States of America and $27 in the Netherlands. The homicide rate per 100,000 of population is 8 in the United States and 1.8 in the Netherlands. A study carried out by Rydell and Everingham for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the United States Army for the Rand Corporation states:
    For every additional dollar spent on the control and source country, there was a loss of 85 cents in societal cost benefits. In interdiction policing of the court system, there was a loss of 68 cents. Domestic enforcement resulted in a loss of 48 cents and in treatment there is a gain of 7.06 cents.

Mr Jim Snow, a former Australian Labor Party member of the Federal Parliament, said:
    In terms of rational politics, it clicked with me at the time that drug law reform was right in line with rational economic reforms taking place, and still is. Economic rationalists like Milton Friedman and George Shultz supported an abandonment of zero tolerance policies on drugs because they knew those policies would cost taxpayers around the world billions, not millions, of dollars in undesirable, unnecessary and counterproductive prison, health and policing expenditure.

The Government’s approach has certainly attracted substantial criticism. It contrasts markedly with the Police Service guidelines and comments that have been made by a significant number of community organisations. I certainly feel that this legislation falls short in all areas, one being whether young people under 18 years of age will be able to use a medically supervised room. That issue has attracted a great deal of debate in this place and throughout the community.

In a letter to me signed by Jane Irwin, the Youth Justice Coalition, which is a coalition of youth, legal and welfare workers, raised valid points relating to the injecting room age limit; the desirability of allowing dogs in children’s centres; protection from prosecution of persons who possess drugs in the vicinity of a safe injecting room; an expansion of the safe injecting room program to more than one injecting room; and the expansion of the ambit of the Young Offenders Act to include all offences under the Drug Misuse And Trafficking Act that are capable of being dealt with summarily by the Children’s Court.

Many steps still need to be taken to resolve these issues. I believe that the community is now in a position to begin to assess the efficacy of the projects proposed by the Government. I look forward to that assessment taking place at a relevant time. I also think it is important that if the assessment is positive the Government should be prepared to take yet another brave step and establish longer-term facilities.

I am certainly convinced of the need for reform - from the information that I have received as a member of a parliamentary committee, as a member of this House, and as someone who lives in an area in which injected drug use is a significant problem. I am very much aware of the loss of life and the pain that is caused to so many people. For every drug user an incredible number of people are badly affected by the problem and their lives can be hell. They need support from the Government and from the community. I believe that this bill is one small but significant step in the right direction to give people who are most in need in our community the support they deserve.

The Hon. R. S. L. JONES [3.07 p.m.]: This legislative package betrays all the academics and others who put so much time and energy into the Drug Summit. Highly knowledgeable people flew in to Sydney from all over Australia and, indeed, from overseas. People from all walks of life - ranging from strident abolitionists such as the Salvation Army’s Brian Watters to current illegal drug users - spent an enormous amount of energy in trying to bring some sense to the drug debate.

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People came from all around Australia and from overseas to attend the Drug Summit. They included Professor Peter Reuter from the school of public affairs at the University of Maryland; Dr Ingrid van Beek from the Kirketon Road Centre; Annie Madden from the New South Wales Users and Aids Association; Dr Alex Wodak, who is well known, of course; Ms Lan Vy Tu from the Ethnic Communities Council; Tony Trimingham from Family Drug Support, who is in the public gallery today; Peter Ryan, the Commissioner of Police; the Reverend Harry Herbert; Robert Griew from the AIDS Council; Professor David Penington; Reverend Ray Richmond from the Wayside Chapel, who is also in the public gallery today; Mrs Patrisha Hurley from the Country Women’s Association; Dr Craig Lilianthal from the Australian Medical Association; Mrs Margaret Hole from the Law Society; and many others.

Many of the resolutions were passed unanimously, and even controversial ones were passed with a huge majority. It was the clear wish of the Drug Summit that the gaol penalty for the simple possession and use of cannabis should be abolished. Indeed, just after the conclusion of the Summit the Premier said on the 7.30 Report that it is inappropriate to gaol people for such a minor crime. The Summit received huge community support, and the community felt that at last it would get some worthwhile reforms to deal with the drug problem sensibly. But what happened? Evidently the Premier went to water, even though he had the numbers in both Chambers to effect all the reforms that the Summit had voted for.

Once again the results are reduced to the lowest common denominator. There was very little point in having the Drug Summit; it will have been a great waste of time, effort and public money if in the end this ultra-conservative Premier decides to ignore the wishes of the participants at the Summit. His nervous Nellie approach to the medically supervised injecting room was doomed to failure in my opinion, with only a single room open for a mere seven hours a day for 18 months. Where will users inject in the other 17 hours, bearing in mind that they will probably need to inject two or three times a day?

The report on the injecting room will not be published before the room is forced to close under the provisions of the legislation in approximately two years from now. There is no way that Roger Wilkins will allow the Premier to pass legislation one year before an election to continue a trial of one or more rooms even if the trial is widely successful and saves a dozen lives and assists a couple of dozen people to quit their habit.

In the meantime, in the rest of the more-enlightened world, Victoria under its former leader, Jeff Kennett, and now under a hopefully more enlightened leader, Steve Bracks, will open a number of medically supervised injecting rooms in the certain knowledge that they will save lives and assist people to quit using drugs. I had the naive belief when it was first elected that the Carr Government would be really progressive. What a joke! It is just as conservative as the Greiner and Fahey governments.

As the South Americans say, "Mismo circo, con differentes payosos" or "Same circus, different clowns." But what can one really expect when this Yes, Minister crowd is still running the show, headed by the arch-conservative, Roger Wilkins, who is just as comfortable running the Carr conservative Government as he would be running a Chikarovski conservative Government. To say that I and many others are disappointed is a significant understatement. We feel that we have been betrayed by the Premier on this and many other issues.

Even highly progressive Ministers - and yes, there are one or two in this Government - are completely hamstrung and unable to get progressive reforms past the Cabinet Office or the Premier. If you have a highly conservative, Daily Telegraph-led agenda you will certainly get it through the Cabinet Office; if you have a progressive agenda, forget it; you will not get it as far as the conservative Premier.

The Government’s response to the recommendations of the Drug Summit is pusillanimous, to say the least. No hard decisions have been made with regard to drug law reform and the flexible reallocation of resources between law enforcement and treatment, rehabilitation and education. The bill contains no evidence of a change to the status quo; instead it proposes an extremely restricted trial of a medically supervised injecting room, among other minor and somewhat problematic amendments.

No law reform is proposed in the Government’s legislative response, except for the limited extension of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act to the Young Offenders Act. The legislation proposes a single trial of a safe injecting room in only one location, contrary to the abundant international evidence and standard scientific and medical procedures. Volume of data is crucial in assessing the efficacy of any medical trial and the limits placed on this trial will make it difficult to assess the trial’s effectiveness

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Furthermore, the proposed model of the safe injecting room is tokenistic, given that there is absolutely no commitment to continue and expand the injecting room should it prove successful. It is bound by a sunset clause under which the entire part establishing and legalising injecting rooms expires. The Government’s response is the narrowest interpretation of the Drug Summit’s recommendation and is notable more for what it excludes than for what it includes. It does not contain recommendation 6.9 of the Summit, which is Labor Party policy as announced in the Parliament in 1997. That recommendation states:
    Custodial penalties should be removed for the following offences:
    •possession and use of not more than small quantities of cannabis
    •possession and cultivation of not more than small quantities of cannabis plants
    •possession of items of equipment for use in the administration of cannabis
    •sale, supply and display of water pipes.

The legislation does not contain recommendation 6.12 of the communique, which states:
    Section 11 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985, dealing with use or possession of equipment for use in the administration of a prohibited drug, should be repealed.

The legislation does not contain recommendation 6.13, which states:
    Section 12 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 dealing with the self-administration of a prohibited drug, should be repealed.

Victoria has repealed the offence of self-administration, and even our conservative northern neighbours in Queensland, a State often vilified as the most conservative in the country, has no offence of self-administration. Only a handful of people are charged annually on a stand-alone basis for self-administration. This is one of the most important debates to take place in the New South Wales Parliament in recent years. However, I am extremely disappointed that the Government’s response to the Drug Summit has been crippled by the Premier’s personal prejudices and a misplaced fear of electoral and political retribution.

One can only hope that this bill represents a preliminary response and that the other recommendations of the Drug Summit will be implemented - but there is about as much chance of that happening as there is of people in western Sydney securing "A" tickets to the diving finals at the Olympics. We are still a long way from implementing a comprehensive and successful strategy to solving drug addiction in our society.

Our funding priorities on drug-related expenditure are astounding: Australia spends a disproportionate 84 per cent of the drug budget on law enforcement, 10 per cent on prevention and research, and only 6 per cent on drug treatment. In contrast, Switzerland spends roughly half of its average annual expenditure on prevention and treatment measures and half on law enforcement. The funding balance must swing back towards treatment, and prevention and education measures, including permanent injecting rooms in various locations around the State, and away from law enforcement measures.

We cannot afford to ignore the damage that the current prohibitionist drug laws are causing. Those laws and the budgetary emphasis on law enforcement have not been successful. The energy and resources put into policing these laws have failed to reduce the supply or demand for illicit drugs, have not reduced the flow of the illicit drug trade on an international level, have not improved the health of drug users, have failed to decrease the rate of drug-related crime within the community, and have failed to reduce the number of illicit drug users incarcerated for drug-related crime.

The effect of these laws and the emphasis on imprisonment as the standard punishment is that 80 per cent of people in our prisons are incarcerated for drug-related offences. This results in otherwise law-abiding citizens coming into contact with serious criminal activity, which fosters offending behaviour and increases harm associated with drug use. Despite the introduction of diversionary measures such as the Drug Court, the pressure and cost to the judicial system of substance abuse will not be released until criminal sanctions are removed for minor drug offences.

Furthermore, those measures cannot work until waiting lists for treatment and rehabilitation services disappear. No-one can purport to assist those who are addicted to drugs while only 27 per cent of people seeking treatment for their drug addiction receive access to a service. Last week I met with and listened to the stories of addicts and their family members who have been touched by the pain of a loved one dying. Their relatives died tragic and lonely deaths in stairwells, alleyways and car parks.

No-one at the meeting was unmoved by those stories. They all repeated the same predicament:
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they wished that their loved ones had been given the message that society cared about them, that they were valued and would be supported during their addiction, and that they had somewhere clean and safe to inject their drug while on the habit. None of them were able to access treatment services when they made the difficult and courageous decision to come to terms with their addiction.

One young man spoke of ringing three or four times before a treatment place became available. It is important to be realistic about the potential benefits of the safe injecting room that will be trialed in New South Wales. There is much evidence to indicate that safe injecting rooms alone are unlikely to be a panacea for the major health harms associated with injecting drug use.

This trial can only work if it is part of an integrated and multifaceted strategy that includes major drug law reform to reduce the harm associated with injecting drug use. We need to adopt a wide range of other life-maintenance programs, including safe injecting rooms, prescribed opiates where necessary, and much greater provision of treatment, rehabilitation and detoxification services, including the increased availability of naltrexone and methadone.

We must also not be afraid to fund research into alternative treatments such as the fukang tablet, which is used to treat heroin addiction in China. Safe injecting rooms challenge the penalising of drug use and possession in a progressive and enlightened way, so they need to be considered in the framework of a long-term policy reform strategy.

Safe injecting rooms offer an alternative policy perspective that should lead to an improvement in the situation of drug users and their surroundings. That would tend to deglamourise the use of drugs. We should heed the drug policy experience of the Netherlands and Switzerland. These nations take an eminently sensible and pragmatic approach to drug use. They are more concerned about getting results and saving lives than engaging in principle or moral arguments. Their primary focus is health protection, with law enforcement objectives being a secondary consideration.

Importantly, drug addiction is seen as just one of the many health issues that confront drug users. Within this, there is recognition that the issues confronting a regular injecting drug user will be completely different from those facing people who use non-addictive drugs such as cannabis only occasionally. For this reason there is a clear policy distinction between the approaches taken with soft drugs and hard drugs and the increasing use of party drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine.

Many places overseas have taken braver and more successful steps than the one New South Wales is taking today. Germany, Switzerland and Spain have decriminalised but not legalised the simple possession and use of some illicit drugs. Currently Portugal is discussing decriminalising the use and possession of small quantities of all illicit drugs. The Netherlands and the United Kingdom have state-controlled prescription of heroin for hard-core users. Other European countries such as Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain are discussing, or are in the process of planning for, the prescription of heroin.

The introduction of a safe injecting room in Australia is long overdue. By 1998 there were 23 safe injecting rooms in operation throughout the world. There were five in Frankfurt, and five in the Dutch cities of Rotterdam, Arnhem, Maastricht, Venlo and Apeldoorn. By far the most comprehensive implementation of safe injecting rooms is in Switzerland, where 13 supervised injecting rooms are in operation.

In addition, safe injecting rooms are proposed or are under discussion in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg. These centres typically provide safe injecting equipment, information about drugs and health care, expert medical staff, counselling, hygiene and other services that are useful to itinerant and impoverished individuals. The health providers contact hard-to-reach populations that have blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV. Safe injecting rooms can address the personal and community harms associated with street-based injecting. Many injecting drug users are concerned not only about the harm to which they expose themselves when injecting in public places but also about the potential harm to other members of the community.

It is critical that injecting drug users are consulted when exploring strategies to address the public health impact of injecting drug use. International evaluations of safe injecting rooms have generally found them to be successful in reducing injection-related risks and harm, including vein damage, overdose and transmission of disease. They are also successful in reducing public order problems associated with illicit drug use, including improper syringe disposal and public drug use.

A medically supervised injecting room will reduce overdoses by ensuring a safe, supervised
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environment for injecting. Overdoses are more likely to result in death where there are delays in alerting health services. Such delays often occur because people fear calling for assistance to aid a person who has overdosed because of the threat of being charged with using a prohibited drug.

Safe injecting rooms are particularly crucial to New South Wales. While 600 Australian adults aged between 16 and 44 died from an overdose of heroin or other opiate drug in 1997, 49 per cent or 292 of these deaths occurred in New South Wales. New South Wales has the highest rate of opiate overdose deaths in the country at 103.8 per million. Overdose deaths in Australia have risen from 1.3 per million in 1964 to 71.5 per million in 1997. Overseas experience shows that medically supervised injecting room facilities save lives.

Overdose rates in countries where supervised injecting facilities exist are considerably lower than in Australia. Annual overdose deaths in the Netherlands are approximately 15.4 per million compared to New South Wales with 103.8 per million. In Switzerland the annual number of overdose deaths has been reduced by half, from 419 in 1992 to 209 in 1998.

A medically supervised injecting room will reach people who are often most marginalised from health services and will provide a gateway to rehabilitation, treatment programs and other health services. Many centres have already demonstrated this is the case with the needle and syringe program. Clients of needle and syringe programs, like those of the medically supervised injecting rooms, are more likely to be homeless, injecting frequently, and to have never been in contact with other drug services.

A medically supervised injecting room will reduce the number of people injecting drugs on the street and facilitate the safe disposal of injecting equipment. In 1998 in Sydney 28 per cent of injecting drug users injected in the street and 23 per cent in toilets. In the inner city of Sydney 50 per cent had injected in the street and 38 per cent in toilets.

Injecting on the street often occurs quickly to avoid detection by police. Rushed injecting and fear of possession of used equipment is not conducive to safe needle and syringe disposal. A medically supervised injecting room will ensure that those who currently inject on the street have a safe place to inject, with the provision of sharps bins for disposal of equipment. A safe injecting room will also facilitate the health of those who inject.

Many common illnesses among injecting drug users, especially abscesses and other skin problems, are caused by unhygienic injecting situations - for example, using water from toilets and gutters. Education by needle and syringe program staff is often limited due to brief contact with most clients. Prevention of hepatitis C amongst injecting drug users requires very specific education on the hygiene of the injecting process. This will be far easier to accomplish in the setting provided by a medically supervised injecting room.

Australia has one of the lowest prevalence of HIV among people who inject drugs in the world. Recently Canada experienced a sudden and dramatic rise in HIV prevalence, in circumstances similar to current conditions in Australia with the increase in the injecting of cocaine. This emphasises the need for continued vigilance. Australia’s success is fragile and there is no guarantee of its continued success. A medically supervised injecting room will enable effective HIV and hepatitis C prevention activities to reach those who are often most marginalised from access to prevention information. In addition, safe injecting rooms can lessen the nuisances and risks of public drug use, including a reduction in the number of syringes discarded on the streets.

With the establishment of safe injecting rooms in Frankfurt the number of public drug users decreased from an estimated 800 in 1991-92 to 150 in 1993, and neighbourhood complaints about drug use dropped significantly. Legal proceedings involving drug users dropped 20 per cent from 1995 to 1996. In addition, most forms of drug-related criminality in Frankfurt also declined. This has been attributed to that city’s integrated harm reduction strategy. Cases of street robbery declined from 1,761 in 1991 to 1,407 in 1997. Cases of car break-ins declined from 28,672 in 1991 to 19,495 in 1997. General heroin offences declined from 1,109 in 1991 to 631 in 1997, and cases of heroin trafficking declined from 1,211 in 1991 to 220 in 1997.

In March this year the Lindesmith Centre noted that researchers have found safe injecting rooms to be an effective component of municipal drug strategies that include other low threshold services, such as needle exchange and various forms of maintenance and treatment for drug abuse. In certain locations and in particular circumstances medically supervised injecting rooms are an effective way to contact some of the most marginalised drug users and reduce the harm their drug use does to them, community health and public order.

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It is necessary to endorse innovative approaches to drug use because education has little effect on those who inject prohibited substances. As a community we have a responsibility to consider alternatives to save lives. Approximately 100,000 people inject drugs regularly in Australia, and estimates of the number of people who inject occasionally range between 180,000 and 230,000. Clearly, abstinence messages alone are ineffective. It is vital that we work to limit the potential harm caused during drug use, in addition to providing services that aim to reduce drug use.

By supporting safe injecting rooms we are demonstrating to injecting drug users, their families and the broader community that we are concerned about their health and wellbeing and want to provide them with a gateway to treatment and rehabilitation. Safe injecting rooms are all about life maintenance and buying time to keep drug-addicted citizens alive, as Tony Trimingham has often said. Supervised injecting rooms will give those addicted to drugs a feeling of worth by offering help and information.

Safe injecting rooms send a message to drug users that society cares about them and that they are valued, despite the fact that what they are doing is not condoned. It will not encourage young people to use drugs - the clinical, medical environment will remove the glamour that is sometimes associated with heroin. The simple truth is that people travel to an area to buy drugs, not to use health services such as needle and syringe programs. People will not travel to a specific area simply to administer drugs, nor will they travel to a medically supervised injecting room to do so.

The legislation provides a legislative basis for the trial of a medically supervised injecting room for 18 months. I support safe injecting rooms but am disappointed about several aspects of the legislation. Despite the media focus on heroin as society’s greatest nemesis, the reality is that the possession and use of cannabis accounts for 47 per cent of all drug offences recorded by police in New South Wales. Time and again the same myths about cannabis use are peddled out, such as cannabis being a gateway drug. Cannabis is not a gateway drug, as Professor Wayne Hall from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre noted when addressing the Drug Summit. He noted that 95 per cent of those who use cannabis do not move on to harder drugs.

However, cannabis is the most used illicit drug in Australia, having been used by just under 40 per cent of Australian adults, and by a third of those in the past year. The status of the current law means that otherwise law-abiding citizens are entangled with the criminal justice system because of marijuana use alone. Therefore, it is incomprehensible that the Government has scorned the unanimous recommendation of the Drug Summit and contravened its own explicit and very public policy supporting the removal of gaol penalties for simple cannabis offences. The Attorney General, in the second reading speech on the government inspired Drug Misuse and Trafficking Amendment Bill, said:
    In simple terms it means that magistrates have taken the view that while the conduct in question is illegal, the level of criminality involved in such offences is sufficiently low that it would be improper to punish offenders by way of a gaol sentence. This bill reinforces this view. The bill would signal that gaol is inappropriate for the possession and use of small quantities of cannabis.

He went on to say:
    The removal of the most serious criminal punishment for the least serious category of offences, as is proposed, represents an appropriately moderate step in bringing the law into line with community expectations. This brings us back to the issue of what the Government believes is the real issue: harm reduction. Imprisonment is a harmful experience. Young people, and naive offenders in general, are particularly vulnerable in prisons . . .

They are so vulnerable that one in four young men between the ages of 18 to 25 is raped within the first couple of weeks of being in a prison cell. These young people are most likely to be using cannabis. The speech of the Attorney General continues:
    Most judicial officers believe it to be excessive and counterproductive and the law ought to be brought into line with the sentences that are being imposed, unless, of course, the Parliament takes the view that judges and magistrates are getting it wrong . . . But if, in fact, in the ordinary run of cases gaol is not seen as appropriate, let the law be brought into alignment with what in practice is imposed in the criminal justice system.

I turn now to other provisions in the bill. I have already noted that the single trial is doomed to fail. I believe that the failure to establish a multicentre trial will significantly affect the findings and report on the trial. What is also astounding about schedule 1 is the extent to which the Government seeks to have overwhelming and unnecessary control over every aspect of the trial. The Government seems determined to allow the centre to shut down before consideration can be given to the report on the findings of the trial. I am also concerned about the fact that the work of the monitoring and evaluation committees may not be fully integrated into the report that is presented to Parliament.

I will move amendments in the Committee stage to alleviate the host of practical problems that
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will arise should the trial period end and the centre close down before a decision is made with regard to the future of medically supervised injecting centres in New South Wales. It would be much simpler to have the option of retaining part 2 until a decision is made, rather than having to enact further legislation. I have written to the Government about my concerns in relation to some aspects of the exposure draft bill and note that a number of concerns were taken into consideration when the legislation was finally introduced in the Parliament.

I understand that the Government will move an amendment to address the fact that the responsible authorities are currently exempt from the principles of administrative law and due processing in deciding whether or not to issue a licence. I have also drafted an amendment to address this problem and I will wait to see the text of the Government’s proposed amendment.

I am concerned about the inability of children under 18 years to access the injecting facilities of medically supervised centres. To prohibit 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds especially is an abrogation of our responsibilities that is particularly damning, given their ability to access clean injecting equipment in needle and syringe programs. It is likely that 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds who attempt to access facilities in the centre may be given clean injecting equipment, but they will then be turned away and will be forced to inject in a rushed and unhygienic fashion on the street. Concern has also been expressed about the decision not to have a no-go area around the injecting centre.

While I am wary of this problem, I consider that there is likely to be a high degree of police co-operation on this initiative, particularly because the royal commission into police corruption recommended that a trial of this type take place to avoid illegal shooting galleries and corrupt police practices that were associated with those galleries. I am more worried about schedule 2, which amends section 18 the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act to create a new offence for advertising or holding out that premises are available for use in the administration of prohibited drugs. This gives police the additional imprimatur to crack down on other facilities which, however distasteful, may actually be saving lives by making those who have overdosed more accessible to ambulance officers.

For this reason I seek a policy assurance from the Government that this will not require a crackdown well ahead of the conduct of the trial. It also appears to be a provision directed at the tolerance room that was run at the Wayside Chapel and which contributed to forcing action that resulted in this legislation. I was relieved to read this morning that charges were dropped against Reverend Richmond, who must be congratulated on his courage.

Schedule 3 to the bill contains some problematic amendments. The amendment to the Bail Act imposing additional bail conditions has already been noted as contrary to voluntary treatment principles and it furthermore works against the presumption of innocence because those on bail have not been found guilty. I will provide further detail of my opposition to this provision in the Committee stage.

The draft bill contained an amendment to the Correctional Centres Act that allowed correctional officers to use dogs to maintain general order and security in juvenile detention centres, which is contrary to international convention. While this provision has been amended and correctional officers’ powers have been limited to the detection of drugs, the potential for the inappropriate use of this power is great. In the adult system, drug dogs are used in cell searches and to search gaol visitors, their baggage and vehicles.

Elderly and young visitors in particular find it distressing to be searched by big dogs. While the drug dog detection unit performed over 15,000 searches of visitors, it produced only 75 charges - a success rate of less than one in 200. The rehabilitation prospects of imprisoned young offenders rest largely on supportive contact with family, friends and community. This amendment will simply add to the impediments to those who wish to visit young people in gaol. I will support any amendment that ameliorates my concerns about this section.

Lastly, the exposure draft bill provided for the long-awaited extension of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act to the Young Offenders Act. This excellent move unfortunately and inexplicably was watered down in the first print of the bill. The effect of new section 8 (2) (e) will work to unfairly penalise young people who traffic drugs for malicious adults who pray upon vulnerable young people. It is inexcusable that there is not a penalty for those who coerce a young person into trafficking illicit drugs on their behalf. Removing these young people from being dealt with by way of the Young Offenders Act will not solve the problem.

We should be looking at those who exploit young people. Whilst I support the legislation, I believe it does not go anywhere near enough to
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providing solutions to these problems. It does not really reflect the wishes of the Drug Summit. I believe that the Drug Summit was a waste of time and money. We could have done these things without going through that process. The Premier should have more courage and he should not let his personal prejudices get in the way of the real reform that was required by the Drug Summit, which was voted on unanimously. The Premier has let this State down.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [3.36 p.m.]: On behalf of the Christian Democratic Party I oppose the Drug Summit Legislative Response Bill. The Minister stated in his second reading speech - and this is contained in the bill - that the main purpose of this bill is to legalise what he calls a medically supervised injecting centre, what I call a shooting gallery. The Minister tried to create a new definition. He said that shooting galleries were illegal. Any illegal injecting place is called a shooting gallery and any legal shooting gallery is called a medically supervised injecting centre. I believe that the term "shooting gallery" applies to legal and illegal injecting centres. That terminology, which arose in the United States of America, is used by people involved in the drug culture.

The term "shooting gallery" is a harsh term. That is why the Government is running hundreds of kilometres away from it. The Government does not want to be associated with legalising a shooting gallery. But we are referring to legal shooting galleries. We can dress up the term as much as we like by calling these centres medically supervised injecting centres. At one stage the Government even included the word "safe" in the terminology and referred to shooting galleries as safe injecting rooms.

The Government realises that there is no such thing as a safe injecting room; it would be equally hard pressed to find an honest liar or to prove that black is white. The bill just does not add up. For the benefit of those who read Hansard, I will place on the record the overview of the bill:
    This Bill arises out of the New South Wales Drug Summit held at Parliament House between 17 and 21 May 1999. It forms but one part of the Government’s response to the recommendations arising from the Drug Summit. In addition to matters arising from these recommendations, it also deals with a number of other matters relating to drug abuse.

That is the Government’s official overview of the bill. It is not my opinion; it is the explanation given by the Government. The overview of the bill goes on to state:
    The main subject of the Bill is the licensing and use of a medically supervised injecting centre.

I give the Government full marks for being honest and for saying that, no matter what window-dressing is contained in the bill, it is all about licensing and the use of a medically supervised injecting centre. It is a bit ironic that the Government introduced this legislation after all the debate at the Drug Summit, and after all the hundreds of recommendations agreed to by the Drug Summit - many of which I agreed with.

I helped also to influence the working group of which I was a member to try to help young people and children involved in drug-related issues. After all that debate and after all the emphasis that has been placed on the need for rehabilitation, we are left with a bill which has as its main purpose the establishment of a medically supervised injecting centre. That just does not add up after all the work and the input of the Drug Summit. The bill goes on to state:
    The proposals contained in the Bill in this regard contemplate a single injecting centre, operating for a trial period of 18 months.

The bill refers to one injecting room or shooting gallery. Pressure was strong at the Drug Summit to increase the number of shooting galleries. I will say more later about the imbalance of delegates who attended the Drug Summit. I refer to page 46 of the New South Wales Drug Summit 1999 Government Plan of Action, dated July 1999, and to paragraph 3.15 which is entitled "Medically supervised injecting rooms", which states:
    The Government should not veto proposals from non-government organisations for a tightly controlled trial of medically supervised injecting rooms in defined areas where there is a high prevalence of street dealing in illicit drugs, where those proposals incorporate options for primary health care, counselling and referral for treatment, providing there is support for this at the community and local government level. Any such proposal should be contained in a local Community Drug Action Plan developed by local agencies, non government organisations, volunteers and community organisations.

Paragraph 3.15 further stated:
    These should be submitted to full public and community consultation processes (such as those used in urban planning law) and preferably a local poll. They must be part of a comprehensive strategy for local law enforcement, health, community and preventative education initiatives.

I note the use of plurals. From the debate so far and having attended the Drug Summit, I gather that delegates also supported the motion to establish a shooting gallery in New South Wales, and perhaps more than one. Those in favour of the proposal, which I oppose, believe the establishment of a safe
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injecting room is the answer to the problem. We will end up with a shooting gallery in every suburb and country town for drug addicts to attend and use as an injecting room.

Every suburb and town will need a shooting gallery to meet the objectives of the drug lobby and to support its false reasoning favouring establishment of shooting galleries. A shooting gallery would have to be established wherever people use drugs. The other day I referred to that point at an emotional briefing attended by parents who had lost teenage children to drugs. It was a sad occasion. We all share sadness on the loss of the great potential of young lives through drug overdoses. One mother said that her son died beside Cabramatta railway line.

A shooting gallery at Kings Cross would not have saved that young man. People would hardly travel by train from Cabramatta to Kings Cross to inject heroin, return to where they live and then go back again to the shooting gallery. People would hardly come from Wollongong or Newcastle to Kings Cross for the same purpose. The whole proposal is absolutely unrealistic. We are proceeding down the wrong path and the results will confirm our error in due course.

The Drug Summit wanted five centres established but the Government would accept only a single injecting centre. We would rather have no shooting galleries, but one is better than dozens. As I have said publicly, I would rather the Government put all its efforts into rehabilitation programs in Kings Cross and establish a full-scale Naltrexone rapid detoxification centre at the spot where the shooting gallery is to be erected. That is what I would do if I were Premier and I believe that would be supported by the people of this State.

The policy should be to get young people off drugs and save their lives, not risk their lives by having them constantly injecting and hoping they will not overdose or use heroin that may contain other chemicals. When they buy the drug on the street they have no idea of its content. No measuring facility is available and no chemist is there to whom they could say, "I have just bought heroin on the street. Before I inject it I would like it tested to make sure it is safe."

The Sisters of Charity, regardless of how sincere they are, will have no idea what addicts will be injecting when they come to the shooting gallery. That is the weakness of the proposal. I hope I am wrong but those behind the shooting gallery concept will argue that a near death overdose could be easily resolved by supplying addicts with heroin as they come through the door.

If the Government continues along this path with the drugs issue, that will be the next topic debated in this Parliament under pressure from the drug lobby, which is adamant that heroin should be supplied to addicts. This injecting room proposal could be a backdoor way to achieve that result. It may not be the Government’s intention, but it will be on the agenda within the next few months.

I have been involved in summits and conferences for many years. At church conferences, summits and synods much political activity goes on behind the scenes. The path of a conference, synod or Drug Summit certainly can be controlled. At the crucial point of the Drug Summit, after many radical resolutions had been made, one motion to support a heroin drug trial was moved. I have no doubt that the Drug Summit would have voted in favour of that motion, but somebody - the Special Minister of State, and Assistant Treasurer - stopped it being passed.

His brief speech was along the lines that we had gone far enough. We had adopted a number of worthwhile proposals that in the eyes of others could be considered quite radical. He said that if we were to adopt this motion it could discredit the Drug Summit and that there would be a backlash by the community. Some people may believe I have prophetic insight but as he made those comments I watched some of his colleagues and I believe his speech was the signal to all Australian Labor Party members at the Drug Summit not to vote for the motion.

Those members may have thought that up to that point they could vote for in support of the motion, but his speech was a message that if this particular motion were adopted it could torpedo the Drug Summit recommendations. When the vote was taken all Labor members of Parliament voted against it. Had the 12 or 13 Labor Party members who did not vote for the motion voted in favour, the Drug Summit would have adopted the proposal for a heroin drug trial. That is how close we came. The objects of the Drug Summit Legislative Response Bill are:
    (a) to amend the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 so as to allow the licensing and use of a single medically supervised injecting centre for the self-administration of prohibited drugs for a trial period of 18 months, and
    (b) to further amend the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 so as to prohibit the advertising or holding out of premises as being available for the unlawful administration of prohibited drugs, and

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    (c) to amend the Bail Act 1978 so as to provide that a court may impose bail conditions requiring an accused person to undergo a drug or alcohol treatment or rehabilitation program, and
    (d) to amend the Correctional Centres Act 1952 so as to allow sniffer dogs to be used in detention centres under the Children (Detention Centres) Act 1987 in the same way as they can be used in correctional centres, and
    (e) to amend the Young Offenders Act 1997 so as to allow the procedures under that Act to be used in relation to summary offences under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985, and
    (f) to repeal the Drug Offensive Act 1987 and enact savings, transitional and other provisions consequent on the repeal of that Act.

The Hon. I. Cohen gave a brief history of how we arrived at this point. Though he said he is not in favour of young people using drugs, the Greens policy is to legalise all drugs so that there is no criminal penalty for using drugs. I find it hard to understand when he says he is not in favour of people using drugs but wants to make them freely available. The Hon. I. Cohen used the Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service recommendation by Justice Wood, who was in favour of establishing legal injecting rooms, as a strong argument and basis for the bill.

Justice Wood had no terms of reference about shooting galleries or anything similar. His inquiry was into the Police Service, but he took it upon himself to investigate other matters and make a number of recommendations. One of those other recommendations was to lower the age of consent, which again had nothing to do with the inquiry into the Police Service. He could argue that he was a royal commissioner and could do what he liked, because the public, which includes churches and other groups, had no idea he would make those recommendations. The royal commission had no evidence against those proposals.

No-one knew that was the direction in which Commissioner Wood was going. If they had known that, a number of groups, such as the Salvation Army and others, would have sought permission to appear before the royal commission to argue against his recommendations about lowering the age of consent or setting up legalised shooting galleries. Many of us were shocked when we saw the recommendations because evidence had not been taken on some of those issues. Commissioner Wood deduced from the evidence he received when investigating corruption into the Police Service that these measures might be desirable.

I do not accept the validity of Commissioner Wood’s recommendations because he did not hear both sides of the argument. Honourable members know that the standing committee of this House that inquired into the setting up of injecting rooms rejected the proposal. The Hon. I. Cohen was a member of that committee, and I have no doubt that he would have opposed the majority decision to reject the proposal. Perhaps others opposed it as well. But there is no getting away from the fact that a parliamentary committee of this Chamber rejected the establishment of legal shooting galleries.

The Hon. I. Cohen referred to the strong community concern about drugs that led to the Drug Summit. He omitted to say that the strong concern before the State election, and it was raised during the campaign, was that the people of New South Wales thought the Government was going soft on drugs. The people of New South Wales wanted stronger laws for drug offences. The Opposition took up that theme and promised, if elected, to take a strong stand against drugs.

The Labor Party was in a dilemma. It did not know what to do because of pressure within the Labor Party, particularly the left wing, to have soft policies on drugs. Mr Carr, in his wisdom, saw a way out. He promised a Drug Summit. If asked what he was going to do about drugs he could say, "I do not make any statements. We do not have any policy on drugs at the moment. We will have the Drug Summit. The Drug Summit will draw up the policies and the Labor Government will implement those policies."

Mr Carr got off the hook during the election campaign by passing the buck to the Drug Summit. The community was deeply concerned that we were experiencing a drug epidemic. The community wanted tough laws on drugs. At that point members of the public would not have imagined in their wildest dreams that the concerns they expressed during that election would lead to a Drug Summit that would recommend the setting up of five shooting galleries, or that the Government would ever implement such a recommendation.

I am interpreting the facts from my perspective, but I believe I reflect the community response to drugs. The shoot-up of Lakemba Police Station, the shooting of police officers and the shooting at police stations by gang members involved with drugs highlighted a major drug problem in this State. Something had to be done. Instead of promising strong anti-drug laws Mr Carr backed off and said that a Drug Summit would be convened. The people thought that the Drug summit would be genuine, that it would include representatives of all views, and that useful recommendations would be forthcoming and adopted by the Parliament.

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I am quite confident in saying that the people of Australia were looking for stronger drug laws, not Australia’s first legal shooting gallery. That may have been the desire of Reverend Richmond of the Wayside Chapel and it may have been the desire of the Hon. I. Cohen from the Greens. I am not saying that there were not people who wanted such a facility, but the common people, the community generally, mothers and fathers across this State who want to protect their children from drugs, were not campaigning for such a facility in this State.

Major Brian Watters and others who were involved with the Drug Summit believe that the Drug Summit was not representative of their views. The Drug Summit was loaded, either accidentally or deliberately, with people who were in the camp of the so-called Drug Reform Group. The Drug Reform Group played a dominant role in the Drug Summit, and upset the balance of the Summit. The Drug Summit was not balanced. In support of that statement I evidence the strong votes by an overwhelming number of delegates in support of shooting galleries.

I do not believe the vote was representative of the view of the wider community or the various interest groups in this State. The Attorney General, prior to the Drug Summit, announced that working groups were producing recommendations that contained some of these radical proposals. Those recommendations, by whatever means, were fed into the Drug Summit and - surprise, surprise - were adopted by the Drug Summit. The Attorney General should not have had a working party producing such recommendations prior to the Drug Summit.

The Attorney General should have waited for a grassroots response from a genuine Drug Summit where people found a common cause for recommendations. Regardless of what the promoters of the Wayside Chapel shooting gallery say, the reality is that their experiment put a tremendous emotional pressure on the delegates to the Drug Summit. Of course, that may have been the intention of some of those associated with that experiment. It may not have been the intention of Rev Richmond or others. I do not know what was in their minds.

Honourable members have already quoted with great joy letters from the Australian Medical Association [AMA] and the Law Society supporting radical proposals. I know a lot of lawyers and doctors, and I have not yet found one who has been canvassed by either the AMA or the Law Society about their views on these issues. An elite group at the top, people such as Dr Kerryn Phelps and others, have certain views. In a democracy they can promote their views, but they should make it clear that it is their personal view or the view of the executive.

It is not true to say that the medical profession in this State supports these proposals. I could spend hours reading letters from doctors who strongly opposed these proposals. The AMA does not speak for all the doctors in this State, nor does the Law Society speak for all the solicitors and barristers. Those organisations should have canvassed their members before they went on record as supporting these extreme proposals. Did the Law Society canvas its members? No! Do all doctors agree with the AMA? No! Do all solicitors agree with the Law Society? No!

Therefore there is a question mark over the strong stand that both organisations have taken in their lobbying of members of this House. I am concerned that the bill focuses only on the drug addicts and ignores the message that young people may get from the proposal to set up Australia’s first legal shooting gallery. What message will the bill send to the young people of this State? We all care about the drug addicts. We do not want to see any of them die. I do not think anyone would argue with that.

By bending over backwards to meet the needs of the drug addicts are we sending a wrong message to our youth? There could be an increased use of heroin, which will lead to more drug addicts and potentially more drug overdose deaths. I spoke with several people, and had a long discussion with Major Brian Watters when this issue was first canvassed. He said that after the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly voted in favour of some of the radical proposals for a legal heroin trial there was a dramatic increase in the use of heroin. It is almost as if on hearing there will be a heroin trial or a legal shooting gallery, young people think, "Heroin can’t be such a bad problem after all. It cannot be so damaging to our health. I think I will experiment at the next party I go to. When I am offered it I will use it."

The Hon. M. R. Egan: You are not saying that seriously, are you?

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: I am talking about young people. More young people may be tempted to experiment with drugs. I will never experiment. I am not even tempted to drink a glass of alcohol let alone inject heroin. I am concerned that we will be sending the wrong message to young people. When the effectiveness of the first shooting gallery is being measured in six or 18 months time, I hope that the Government will not suggest it has been a great success merely because a death did not occur there.

Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted.

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QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
______
INSURANCE BROKERS

The Hon. M. J. GALLACHER: My question without notice is to the Attorney General, and Minister for Industrial Relations. Why has he ignored and excluded insurance brokers from the workers compensation reform process in contradiction of the Grellman report into workers compensation, which found that insurance brokers can provide a useful service in workers compensation and should be fully involved in the system?

The Hon. J. W. SHAW: The Leader of the Opposition has asked an interesting, important and constructive question on which I have an open mind. What should be the role of brokers in a system as currently exists under the 1987 regime of workers compensation and/or what should be their role under a private underwriting scheme, which on the face of the statute will occur on or before 1 October next year? These are interesting and difficult questions. At the risk of being accused of being indecisive, I have an open mind on this issue. It is the subject of differing views.

To be quite candid, one of my difficulties is that the advisory council, which has a statutory role and function under the workers compensation legislation and consists of representatives of employers and trade unions, has recommended against recognising brokers and paying their fees. That is a voice I have to listen to, and I think I should listen to, but it is one of a number. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that I am conscientiously considering this matter at the moment. I have seen different analyses of the appropriate role of brokers and I will come to a conclusion in due course after proper consideration. The Leader of the Opposition is right to raise the question, but the question is not susceptible to a simple and quick answer.
COMMITTALS PILOT SCHEME

The Hon. R. D. DYER: My question without notice is to the Attorney General, and Minister for Industrial Relations. Will the Attorney provide an update to the House on the operation of the committals pilot initiative?

The Hon. J. W. SHAW: I thank the Hon. R. D. Dyer for what is a serious and important question. The committals pilot initiative was designed to achieve better screening of matters prior to committal to the District Court by decreasing the number of matters committed to the District Court and increasing the number of matters finalised at Local Court level by way of plea or otherwise; increasing the number of matters committed to the District Court as a percentage in terms of pleas as compared to pleas of not guilty; and decreasing the number of adjournments at arraignment in the District Court.

Initial funding from the trustees of the Law Society Trust Account Fund enabled a pilot scheme to be established in the Downing Centre for indictable matters which had been commenced in a number of inner city courts. Competent representation was provided at the earliest possible stage and the work was allocated equally between in-house and private lawyers. The commission created a specialist in-house unit, and a panel of private lawyers was established to act on behalf of accused persons prior to and, if necessary, through the committal process.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has co-operated in the pilot by allocating experienced solicitors to these matters at an early stage to provide greater scrutiny of the available evidence and to participate in negotiations with defence solicitors. Early figures from the pilot indicated a substantial reduction in matters proceeding to the District Court for trial and more matters being finalised at the Local Court level. Because of the success of the Sydney pilot, additional funding has been made available by the trustees for a further pilot in Sydney west, with committals centralised at Penrith Local Court and Burwood Local Court.

The Sydney west expansion has produced outstanding initial results. Figures obtained from the District Court criminal registry for the period January to July 1999 indicate that Sydney west trial registrations are down from 673 for the first seven months of 1998 to 387 in the same period in 1999. Sentence registrations in Sydney west are also down from 207 to 169 for the same period. As a result of the decrease in trial registrations, some matters listed in Sydney are being transferred to Sydney west in order to keep the available trial courts busy.

It should be noted that there has been a reduction in Sydney pending trials from 708 as at 31 July 1998 to 601 as at 31 July 1999. It is anticipated that pending trials in both Sydney and Sydney west will be at new lows by the end of the year. In recognition of the excellent results achieved, the Government has allocated $1.965 million to enable aid to be reintroduced in all committal matters in New South Wales from 1 July 1999 for a
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trial period of 12 months. The commission has engaged Professor Ted Wright of the Justice Research Centre to conduct a formal evaluation of the pilot as required by the New South Wales Treasury as a condition of funding the initiative this year.
CRIME STATISTICS

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: I ask the Treasurer, representing the Minister for Police, a question without notice. It is a fact that the latest crime figures from the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research for the past two years, and especially for the three months to September, show a significant decrease in some crimes and no rise in other crimes? Is it a fact that the number of break and enter offences have dropped by 11 per cent, vehicle theft by 15 per cent, robbery with a firearm by 21 per cent, and robbery with a knife or another non-firearm implement by 17 per cent?

Is this a result of the new zero tolerance police policy introduced by Commissioner Peter Ryan in certain regions of New South Wales, such as the South Coast-Nowra area, specifically targeting repeat offenders and known as "in your face policing"? Will the Government give its enthusiastic support to these police strategies, which are being attacked and undermined by certain bureaucrats?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: This is a question that should have been asked as a Dorothy Dixer and later I will work out why it was not. I would have to be honest and say that I am not aware of those figures, but they are very, very impressive and include 11 per cent falls, 15 per cent falls, 21 per cent falls and 17 per cent falls. They are very, very impressive figures. I know that the Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile is a member of this House who likes to help so I suggest that he also gives advice to members opposite who are in great need of help.

As I said, I am very pleased to hear the figures mentioned by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile. I can only put them down to good government, a record Police budget, a great commissioner, a great Minister for Police, a great Premier, a very good Special Minister of State, a very good Attorney General, and a Police Service that gets better by the day.
CENTRAL MONITORING FEE EXEMPTIONS

The Hon. R. T. M. BULL: I address my question to the Treasurer, Minister for State Development, and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Which program in the budget is going to suffer to pay for the 500 clubs that are now exempt from payment of the central monitoring fee? Has he provided the same exemption for very small hotels who similarly will have difficulty paying this outrageously high monthly fee?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: The answer to the second part of the honourable member’s question is no. The honourable member will be aware that clubs are non-profit organisations whereas hotels are commercial enterprises. I do not think there is a hotel in the State that is not open at least six days a week and for the better part of the day. There are many clubs that open for only a couple of days a week.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: Most of them are open every day.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Most are, but small bowling clubs, small tennis clubs and small country golf clubs have licensed premises that are open only for a very limited period. Therefore they are in quite a different position from that of commercial businesses. From memory, the total cost of this concession is approximately $1.5 million a year. I confidently anticipate that that cost will be more than offset by an increase in revenues as a result of centralised monitoring.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: It won’t come out of Gaming and Racing revenue?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: It will, but essentially it will come out of government revenues. That might mean that the Department of Gaming and Racing will be supplemented to that extent or perhaps by a payment from Treasury. In any event, I indicate to the House that I believe the total revenues to the Government from poker machines will increase as a result of centralised monitoring by a much greater extent than $1.5 million a year.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: By how much?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I have no idea, but $1.5 million is a very tiny fraction of the total poker machine revenue. The exemption certainly will not present any great difficulty for the Government. Recently we had a budget which contained a Treasurer’s advance of $160 million to cover unforeseen expenditures. As I have indicated, I believe that the revenues collected as a result of centralised monitoring will increase. I am sure about that is a measure which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would support.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: Of course.

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The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I am glad to have his support, and I place that on record.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: I don’t support the $26.10-and-increasing-rapidly fee.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: That was set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal [IPART].

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: I know that. It is over 100 per cent more than it is in Queensland.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition would not want that to be a political decision, surely. It is appropriate that it should be set by IPART.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Point of order: Yesterday I was away for one day and the standards of the House have slipped. The Treasurer and Leader of the Government is wearing an embellishment which is larger than the size of the security pin worn by members. More importantly, it does not even match his tie. I ask for it to be removed.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: To the point of order: There are two things to say. First, it is a little tiny badge. I think it suits me really well.

The Hon. M. J. Gallacher: A little tiny badge for a little tiny fellow.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I am proud of being a little fat man. I have joined a trio of little fat men, and I have no problem with that. One is what one is: I am middle-aged, little and fat and I am an Irish Catholic Labor republican. I am proud of all of those attributes. The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti is really a closet monarchist. He pretends when he is talking to people who are enlightened that he is a republican but he is in fact a monarchist because he has not taken umbrage at a sign worn by his colleague the Hon. C. J. S. Lynn which states, "Vote NO to the republic", whereas my badge simply states, "Yes". I would have thought that for a Treasurer who is renowned for saying no, any occasion upon which I say yes would be welcomed, but that is another matter.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: That is another lie because the people will know all the time that you have a button that says, "Yes".

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: That is right, and I am saying that I thought that the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti should welcome that. There once was a Treasury Secretary who used to sign all his files with his initials. His name but was Norman Oakes, and he signed every file "NO".

The PRESIDENT: Order! I have ruled that members must not wear badges that are larger than the Legislative Council badge. I will leave it to members to measure their badges and act accordingly.
MAIN STREET-SMALL TOWNS PROGRAM

The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: My question without notice is to the Treasurer, and Minister for State Development. Will the Treasurer update the House on measures launched recently to help towns and centres around the State to implement community economic development programs?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: That is a good question.

[Interruption]

The PRESIDENT: Order! I repeat my earlier ruling and a ruling by Deputy-President Gay: Members must not wear badges that are bigger than the Legislative Council badge. Members wearing larger badges should remove them. The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn’s badge is certainly bigger.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Up to 150 centres throughout the State will receive the New South Wales Government funded do-it-yourself guide designed to help communities create jobs and encourage sustainable economic growth. The guide is designed to provide step-by-step advice on how to implement and maintain the Main Street-Small Towns program. The Minister for Regional Development, my colleague Harry Woods, launched the guide last week at the official opening of the annual Community Economic Development Conference at Tweed Heads.

Since 1994 the State Government has assisted 109 communities under the Main Street and Small Towns program. A recent survey shows that a government investment of $3.1 million has led to infrastructure improvements worth $55 million and the creation of 836 direct jobs and 2,900 indirect jobs. The guide released by Mr Woods will help to build on these achievements by assisting communities to generate further jobs and investment opportunities.

The do-it-yourself guide looks at issues such as project management, monitoring and evaluation, collaboration and strategic planning, and local
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financial sustainability. Mr Woods also presented the conference with a new regional promotion magazine, the Guide to Living and Investing in New South Wales. The magazine, which was launched earlier this month, promotes regional and country New South Wales to investors, businesses and residents throughout the State.

The guide contains detailed profiles of each of the State’s 13 regions and features information on their business environment, education facilities, real estate prices and trends. The guide is a joint initiative of the State Government and the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales and will be distributed through their networks. Both these new guides will be great tools to help regional New South Wales win new investment and jobs.
OLYMPIC GAMES TICKET ALLOCATION

The Hon. D. E. OLDFIELD: My question is to the Treasurer, representing the Minister for the Olympics. Is the Minister aware that New South Wales cyclist Anthony Peden won a silver medal at the world track cycling championship in Germany just two days ago? Is the Minister aware that this talented cyclist, who was born in Newcastle, reluctantly defected to New Zealand last year because the allegedly cliquey nature of Charlie Walsh’s selection criteria deprived him of his rightful place in the Australian cycling team?

Neither Anthony’s wife, Tristen, who is also a born and bred resident of the Newcastle area, nor any of his family have been able to secure tickets to watch him compete. What is the policy relating to ticket allocations to close family members of competitors? Will the Minister intervene to ensure that tickets are made available to Anthony Peden’s family and the families of other Australian competitors?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I am not familiar with the matter raised by the Hon. D. E. Oldfield. I understood from his question that Mr Peden will be competing for New Zealand. All Olympic teams from other countries have tickets available to them and I would be surprised if Mr Peden’s family were not able to see him compete by obtaining tickets to be made available to the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
NEW SOUTH WALES FISHERIES DIRECTOR DISMISSAL

The Hon. D. J. GAY: My question is to the Treasurer, representing the Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for Fisheries. Is it a fact that the head of New South Wales Fisheries was sacked this morning? If the Minister for Fisheries is well enough to sack a senior departmental officer why is he not present in this House? Why has he chosen to sack this officer while he is away? Is it to avoid the scrutiny in Parliament on this and other issues? Is it sack and run?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Sometimes the Opposition really does itself a disservice by asking patently silly questions. It is known around the House that the Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for Fisheries is not here this week because he is sick.

The Hon. D. J. Gay: He is in hospital. No-one disputes that.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Then why ask such a silly question?

The Hon. J. F. Ryan: How do you sack someone when you are sick?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I do not know about the Hon. J. F. Ryan, but on the very few occasions that I have been sick since I have been a member of this Parliament, which goes back to 1978, I have continued to do my work, at home. The fact that the Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for Fisheries is not present in the House does not mean he is not able to carry out many of the duties which normally go with his job.

The Hon. D. J. Gay: It is a pretty low act by the Labor Party.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: It was a very silly, low question.
CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

The Hon. A. B. MANSON: My question without notice is to the Attorney General, and Minister for Industrial Relations. Will the Minister inform the House what new initiatives have been developed to reduce injury and deaths in the construction industry?

The Hon. J. W. SHAW: I thank the Hon. A. B. Manson for his question. I know he has an ongoing interest in the construction industry. Members of the House may recall that in August 1998 the Government launched a memorandum of understanding [MOU] for the construction industry to improve the systematic management of occupational health and safety [OHS]; to provide
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occupational health and safety training to front-line management and induction training for new employees; to provide subcontractors with assistance to prepare safety plans, and require subcontractors tendering for work to demonstrate occupational health and safety competence; to ensure occupational health and safety is addressed at the point of design; to improve the effectiveness of site safety committees; and to develop, implement, share and promote occupational health and safety best practices.

Recently, a meeting between construction industry leaders and WorkCover New South Wales reaffirmed their support for the MOU and announced a range of new initiatives to improve the systematic management of OHS in the construction industry. The package of new initiatives includes hazard identification tools, guidelines, standards and performance measures.

These practical initiatives, together with continuing support from industry leaders, give construction companies both the incentive and the tools to improve their occupational health and safety performance in general, and their understanding of subcontractor responsibilities in particular. The Government is committed to improving OHS performance throughout the construction industry. The MOU provides the framework to achieve this.

A number of the initiatives have been completed and are being used in the industry as follows. The first is a new kit for subcontractors, designed to help small business in the construction industry to systematically manage workplace health and safety. It establishes a minimum standard for the management of occupational health and safety by subcontractors. The second is a document entitled "Safety in Design: Guideline for Major Building and Civil Projects", which provides a rigorous framework to enable designers, constructors, and other key stakeholders to identify and reduce construction, maintenance, repair and demolition risks associated with a design to as low as reasonably practicable.

The third is a safety meter, which is a new approach to performance measurement. It is a positive performance indicator that aims to involve the work force in the method of measurement and raise site safety awareness. The fourth is hazard profiles, designed to help contractors identify common hazards associated with a work activity and the necessary control measures to perform that work safely, as well as to facilitate induction training of new workers about those common hazards. The fifth is a supervisor training resource kit, comprising relevant, up-to-date occupational health and safety information that explains project managers’ and supervisors’ daily functions and responsibilities and underpins supervisor training programs.

As well, under the terms of the MOU, WorkCover has undertaken an audit of the signatories’ occupational health and safety management systems and provided each head contractor with an assessment of how they are managing OHS and a set of recommendations for improvement. Those reports provide each head contractor with their own individual benchmark and a road map for ongoing improvements to be implemented by the MOU signatories. The signatories now have an outline of their occupational health and safety performance against a benchmark of average industry performance across the 17 MOU signatories and the industry’s best practice companies.

The audit shows that contractors with effective performance measurement tools in place will more effectively manage occupational health and safety. Another observation is that some contractors are not reaping the rewards of their investment in occupational health and safety management systems due to deficiencies in implementation. The ongoing work of WorkCover and of industry to improve safety in the construction industry is another example of the success of the New South Wales Government’s co-operative approach to these matters.
OLYMPIC GAMES COURT SERVICES

Ms LEE RHIANNON: I direct my question to the Attorney General. Is it true that courts will be closed when the Olympics are held next year? Has your department considered the impact of such court closures? Does the closure mean that charged persons and prisoners on remand could be held in custody for a longer period than they would be if the courts were open? Has your department considered how to ensure that charged people and prisoners on remand are not disadvantaged because they are in custody while the Olympics are being held?

The Hon. J. W. SHAW: The honourable member raises a serious question. All courts are grappling with the possible logistic problems of operating in the Olympic period. We all have to face the reality of various transport difficulties, availability of police officers, and so on. I am confident that the heads of jurisdiction are applying their minds objectively and seriously to these matters, and I am confident we will do the best we can, given the pressures that there will be.

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As long ago as 1998 the Government recognised that the Sydney 2000 Olympics would have a significant impact on the way court services are delivered, particularly in the Sydney metropolitan area. The need to ensure that police officers can focus on their crucial Olympics security duties one year from now and that the community’s access to justice is not compromised are the major issues driving our planning. Another significant consideration is that infrastructure services such as the public transport system will also be focused on Olympic transport routes.

Towards the end of last year the Standing Committee of Criminal Justice Agency Chief Executive Officers approved a proposal to commission a group of senior officers drawn from all the major justice agencies to provide advice and make recommendations on this important issue. Chaired by my department, that group has been working ever since to develop preferred models of court operation during the Olympics for the consideration of the Government and the respective heads of jurisdiction. I am pleased to say that this significant task is now nearing its completion. Operational models for all the State’s courts have been completed. While I am not in a position to provide the fine detail of the models at this time, I can outline the major features.

Two Local Courts will operate in major locations on extended hours to deal primarily with persons in custody. One of these locations will be in the Sydney central business district and the other will be in western Sydney. They have been strategically chosen to ensure that in the event that any of the many visitors to our city during the Olympics are arrested, they can be processed through the courts quickly and conveniently.

In addition, a further eight metropolitan Local Court locations will operate on standard hours to ensure that the movement of people in custody is minimised. Otherwise, the Local Courts across the State will focus their attention on non-police cases during that crucial month in the lead-up to and during the Games. Public registry services will be maintained, as will access to other urgent assistance such as apprehended violence orders or Family Law injunctions.

In the higher courts, the Supreme Court and the District Court, there will in effect be a law vacation during September 2000. Again, access to the courts for urgent cases, such as bail reviews, people in custody and civil injunctions will be preserved, as will public registry services. However, it is unlikely that any criminal trial work will be conducted in the Sydney metropolitan area, given that there may be difficulties securing sufficient jurors at that time. As most of the State’s judges have agreed to take their variable vacation during the period, there is unlikely to be any net reduction in court sittings across the year.

The specialist jurisdictions, such as the Compensation Court and the Land and Environment Court, have not been overlooked. Again, the community’s access to these courts for urgent matters has been preserved. The Industrial Commission is also making plans to meet any increase in demand for its services in the period leading up to or during the Olympic Games.

We are now at the stage when full consultation with the legal profession and other key stakeholders has already begun. Indeed, our Federal counterparts are looking to New South Wales to help them with their planning in this area. This planning exercise has been completed a full year prior to the Sydney Olympic Games. It shows that forward thinking, open and co-operative planning between State agencies and, most important, high quality advice to the State’s judiciary can deliver solutions which meet the broader agenda of the Government while preserving the community’s fundamental right of access to justice during the Olympic period.
MINDA JUVENILE JUSTICE CENTRE SECURITY BREACH

The Hon. PATRICIA FORSYTHE: My question without notice is to the Minister for Juvenile Justice. I refer to the Minister’s personal explanation yesterday in which she said she has an interim departmental report into last week’s escape from Minda. Does the report show that six detainees had gone to the courtyard to play touch football and that all staff on duty were also in the courtyard? For what period of time is it estimated that the seventh detainee was unsupervised, having gone to his room after dinner?

Was the seventh detainee referred to by the Minister the detainee who escaped? As the director-general last week described the detainee as depressed, has there been an explanation as to why he was not on special watch? Is this escape being treated as a lapse by staff or are management decisions being called into question and is departmental policy being reviewed?

The Hon. CARMEL TEBBUTT: I appreciate the honourable member’s question about the escape of Richard Taavale from Minda, and the opportunity to provide further information to the House. I can
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confirm that the seventh detainee I referred to in my personal explanation yesterday was not the detainee who escaped. The seventh detainee, as I explained, had requested to go to his room after dinner. I can provide the House with additional information with regard to the department’s interim report on the escape. The report is interim and further interviews with staff need to be conducted. As a result of the report, disciplinary proceedings will be commenced in accordance with the Public Sector Management Act.

In addition, some matters have also been referred to the police. I emphasise that the matters referred to the police do not involve any departmental staff. I also confirm to the House that the Minda Juvenile Justice Centre closed on Monday, as foreshadowed in the budget. After his recapture on the weekend, Richard Taavale is now on remand in an adult prison facing charges resulting from his escape.
ASIAN BUSINESS INVESTMENT

The Hon. H. S. TSANG: My question without notice is to the Treasurer, and Minister for State Development. Will the Treasurer please inform the House what the State Government is doing to secure new investment from Asia?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I am pleased to advise the honourable member and the House that New South Wales recently secured two important new investment projects from Asia, boosting our broadcasting and manufacturing sectors. Earlier this month the Minister for Small Business took part in the opening of a new Sydney news bureau for Japan’s largest commercial television network, Nippon Television. Nippon Television decided to put its Australian headquarters in Sydney.

I am told that the decision by Nippon Television to set up a Sydney-based bureau was based on our position as a major centre for finance in the Asia-Pacific and the growing interest in the region flowing from the Olympic Games. That is good news for New South Wales. It means better coverage of New South Wales and Australia in Japan and will help to secure even more investment in this State as the Japanese economy rebounds.

I am also pleased to advise the House that one of Taiwan’s leading textile producers is to open its headquarters in north-western Sydney. Wentex International will invest more than $10 million in Castle Hill, creating up to 50 new jobs over the next three years. The company will open a new textile manufacturing plant, making high quality bed linen and manchester, with some 80 per cent of its products destined for export.

The managing director of Wentex, Mr Wen Chung, said that relocating his company to Sydney will provide access to highly skilled local designers and manufacturers. Wentex intends to establish itself as a major textile brand in Australia, distributed through department stores and eventually its own retail outlets. The decision by Wentex to relocate to Sydney continues to demonstrate the growing appeal of New South Wales as an international business location. I welcome both these companies to Sydney and I congratulate them on their decision.
MULAWA CORRECTIONAL CENTRE DEATH

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Juvenile Justice, representing the Minister for -

The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn: Who are you representing on this one, rat?

The Hon. M. R. Egan: Point of order: Madam President, the Hon. C. J. S. Lynn just made a very offensive remark to the Hon. Helen Sham-Ho. Honourable members would be aware that I do not normally take objection to anything that is said about anybody, including myself. I take the view that members of Parliament should be able to put up with most of the barbs that are thrown at us, particularly in the heat of debate. But the comment just made by the Hon. C. J. S. Lynn was the most offensive I have ever heard in my time in this Parliament. I think he should be required to withdraw that comment.

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO: To the point of order: Madam President, the Hon. C. J. S. Lynn called me a rat. It is most unparliamentary and I ask you to request him to withdraw that comment.

The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn: To the point of order: That is a recognised term that has been attributed to the Labor Party and to people who leave the Labor Party. In fact, a documentary was produced about it.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Standing Order 80 is clear:
    No Member shall use offensive words against either House of the Legislature, or any Member thereof . . .

I ask the Hon. C. J. S. Lynn to withdraw the comment.

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The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn: Madam President, in deference, I withdraw the comment.

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO: I refer my question without notice to the Minister for Juvenile Justice, representing the Minister for Corrective Services. I refer the Minister to the tragedy of a 20-year-old woman who died in custody at the induction centre at Mulawa women’s prison on 15 October, just four days after receiving a six-month sentence for larceny. Was the centre designed specifically to prevent these kinds of deaths from occurring? If that is the case, how did this death occur? When will the Minister undertake an inquiry into this tragic death? What will the Government do to ensure that this appalling situation never happens again at this establishment ?

The Hon. CARMEL TEBBUTT: The Hon. Helen Sham-Ho has asked a detailed question. I will take it on notice, refer it to the Minister for Corrective Services and undertake to get a response as soon as possible for the honourable member.
INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION BUDGET CUTS

The Hon. J. M. SAMIOS: Is the Treasurer, representing the Premier, aware that the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC] stated in its 1998-99 annual report -

The Hon. H. S. Tsang: Point of order: The Hon. C. J. S. Lynn is wearing a badge that is much bigger than is allowed in this House. I ask you to request him to remove it.

The PRESIDENT: Order! I repeat my earlier ruling: Members may not wear badges that are larger than the Legislative Council badge.

The Hon. J. M. SAMIOS: Is the Treasurer, representing the Premier, aware that the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption stated in the ICAC 1998-99 annual report that the Government acted only recently to stem an effective budget cut of $3.5 million per annum in real terms since 1990-91 and that such funding cuts have adversely affected what the commission has been able to achieve in its areas of statutory responsibility for investigation, corruption prevention, and education? This has meant significant lost opportunities which can never be retrieved. Will the Treasurer assure the House that future budgets will not pre-emptorily reduce funding for the ICAC and its important functions?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Every year the Government assesses funding for all the agencies that are covered by the Appropriation Bill. My understanding is that some time ago now the budget for the Independent Commission Against Corruption was reduced at the same time as the Police Integrity Commission was created. The rationale was that the Police Integrity Commission took over a large amount of the work that would otherwise have been done by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I think it is quite appropriate that, with the introduction of the Police Integrity Commission, the funding to the Independent Commission Against Corruption should have been reduced.

My recollection is, however, that the total budget for the two agencies is larger than the budget for the Independent Commission Against Corruption when its responsibilities also covered the police force. That probably indicates that I was not as effective an advocate as I should have been, as I do not believe there should have been any additional cost as a result of the establishment of that additional agency.
ELECTRICITY INDUSTRY REFORM

The Hon. JAN BURNSWOODS: My question without notice is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer tell the House what the Government is doing to further improve the operations of the electricity industry in New South Wales?

The Hon. D. J. Gay: Sell it.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: If only I could. Actually, I am not proposing to do that, even in this parliamentary term.

The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: I will support you.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: The honourable member will not be here. He cannot go now because his colleagues cannot select a successor. The Hon. J. P. Hannaford cannot go because he cannot get a job. The best way for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to resolve his dilemma is to recruit a new member of the National Party from one of the disillusioned Liberals sitting near him. The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti - Tutti-Frutti Pezzutti - has just put up his hand. The fifth National Party member will now enable members of the National Party to solve their leadership problem.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: You just lied again. Like Graham Richardson, you are a self-confessed liar.

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The Hon. M. R. EGAN: While I have been sitting in the Chamber I have been studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Would a liar do that? I have been reading it all afternoon. It is very good. In fact, I just randomly picked it up at page 453 and the chapter heading is "The Definition of Sin". It would be good for honourable members to remember that we are all sinners, including the Hon. J. F. Ryan. We are all born with original sin. If we were not born with original sin the world would have no problems.

The Hon. J. F. Ryan: Some sins are more original.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: No, there is a thing called original sin. Most of the theologically illiterate people opposite do not quite understand what original sin is.

The Hon. J. F. Ryan: I would not challenge anyone on that.

The Hon. D. J. Gay: I have sinned. Challenge me.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: It would do the honourable member some good.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Did you know that tobacco is a sin these days?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Tobacco is a sin these days!

The Hon. J. F. Ryan: I will do you a swap. I will swap you the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Okay. The honourable member should go and get me the Thirty-nine Articles, but he is not even an Anglican.

The Hon. J. F. Ryan: Yes, I am an Anglican. I will give you the Thirty-nine Articles.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: The honourable member has improved. I thought he was further down the food chain. In June the Minister for Energy and I announced a range of measures to continue the reformed improvement of the electricity industry in New South Wales.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Aren’t you the Minister for Energy?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: No. It is important that the New South Wales Government and other administrations involved in the introduction of the competitive market provide impetus and certainty to the national electricity market [NEM], develop and implement a workable national electricity code and help to standardise an approach to full retail contestability. One of the biggest challenges is the introduction of full retail contestability in the national electricity market from 1 January 2001, which is not far away.

The Hon. D. J. Gay: Especially when you pull our distributors down with the amount of money they have to pay you. Our lot are not competitive the way you have done it.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: That is interesting. At estimates committee hearings and other places the Hon. J. H. Jobling has asked questions on behalf of privately owned generators in other States which suggest that our generators are getting a free ride by not having to return commercial dividends to their shareholders.

The Hon. J. H. Jobling: I did not ask a question this year at the estimates committee.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: The Hon. J. H. Jobling does not even understand the questions he asks. He should stop doing the bidding of privately owned competitors of the New South Wales publicly owned generators. He should be ashamed of himself. Even if he is not ashamed, he and the fellow sitting next to him should at least be consistent in their approach. As I was pointing out, one of the biggest challenges is the introduction of full retail contestability in a national electricity market from 1 January 2001.

The transition to full retail contestability must be properly planned. The issues that need to be resolved include how to measure household consumption for billing purposes, what investment systems need to be made to provide such measurements and who should bear the costs, ensuring consistent arrangements across the whole national market so that it is possible to maximise the savings and advantages that come from economies of scale, ensuring appropriate levels of service at a reasonable price in remote areas and establishing appropriate incentives to encourage environmental protection initiatives.

New South Wales Treasury recently released an information paper on the chief issues that need to be resolved in order to establish how the new full retail market will operate. Public responses to the paper are being assessed. Other challenges of the competitive market include monitoring and
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managing trading risks of government-owned retail businesses, ensuring NECA and NEMMCO fulfil their roles and responsibilities so that the market operates fairly and efficiently, and ensuring that the national electricity code evolves in a way that gets the best results for the community from the electricity market.

In order to address these challenges, I am pleased to announce to the House that from next Monday the market implementation group [MIG] will be established within Treasury. That group will be headed by Professor Don Anderson, assisted by existing Treasury resources and a consortium of experts led by frontier economics. Professor Anderson is currently professor in the Department of Commerce at the University of Queensland. He has published articles extensively in Australian and overseas journals, and has held visiting appointments at the universities of Chicago, Michigan, Warwick and the Australian Graduate School of Management.

Professor Anderson is also a recognised expert in energy reform. During 1997 and 1998 he was the full-time Executive Chairman of the Queensland Electricity Reform Unit in charge of structural, institutional and regulatory reform of the Queensland electricity industry. The establishment of MIG will position New South Wales to take the lead in the next stage of the development of the national electricity market for the benefit of businesses and families in this State and elsewhere.
BANK CHARGES

The Hon. P. J. BREEN: My question without notice is to the Treasurer, representing the Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for Fisheries, who represents the Minister for Fair Trading. Is the Minister aware that the television program A Current Affair carried out a survey of 10 major banks and credit unions by depositing $50 and studying the charges debited to each account over a period of 12 months? Is the Minister aware also that the balance of each account at the end of the 12 months was as follows: Commonwealth Bank $50.02; ANZ Bank, BankWest and Metway Bank all $49.97; Advantage Credit Union $40.50; National Australia Bank $37.01; Westpac $30.08; Bank of Melbourne $16.98; Endeavour Credit Union $13.97; and St George Bank nil?

Given the Minister’s support at the recent Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs for basic accounts with a specified number of free transactions, will the Minister now consider approaching the Federal Government and urgently request the introduction of the regulations on accounts with small balances?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I will refer the question to my colleague the Minister for Fair Trading.
GREATER MURRAY AMBULANCE SERVICES

The Hon. JENNIFER GARDINER: My question is to the Treasurer, representing the Minister for Health. Is the Government concerned about the industrial relations crisis in southern New South Wales affecting ambulance services in the Greater Murray River region? Why has the staff levels agreement for southern New South Wales ambulance services not been implemented, which means that that part of the State lags behind the rest of New South Wales in implementing staff level agreements? In the interests of patient care, will the Government intervene to try to get this protracted matter resolved?

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I am unaware of the issue. I will refer it to my colleague the Minister for Health in the other House for a quick response.
YOUTH JUSTICE CONFERENCING SCHEME

The Hon. P. T. PRIMROSE: My question without notice is to the Minister for Juvenile Justice, Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth, and Minister Assisting the Minister for the Environment. Will the Minister inform the House about outcomes plans from Youth Justice Conferences?

The Hon. CARMEL TEBBUTT: I thank the Hon. P. T. Primrose for his question and interest in youth justice conferencing. The process of youth justice conferencing provides an important diversionary strategy. Honourable members will find that the outcomes plans from youth justice conferencing are important in providing greater opportunities to address the causes behind offending behaviour. Youth Justice Conferences, introduced in 1997 by the New South Wales Young Offenders Act, commenced operation in April 1998. Since then more than 2,200 young people have been referred to conferences. The State now has 17 conference administrators and more than 350 conference conveners have been recruited and trained.

The principal underpinning Youth Justice Conferences states that measures for dealing with children who are alleged to have committed offences are designed so as to promote acceptance by the young person of responsibility for his or her own behaviour. That is an important principle underlining the whole concept of youth justice conferencing. The Act states that sanctions arising from a conference, or the outcomes from a conference, are to be
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designed to assist the young person to accept responsibility, to be appropriate to the age and level of development of the young person, and to be appropriate to the financial, social and cultural needs of the young person.

The outcomes plans to which the honourable member refers are the written agreements between the young offender and the victim about the actions the young person will take to go some way towards repairing the harm he or she has caused. The suggestions for what should be included in this plan came from all conference participants. They can include actions such as an apology to the victim, making reparation to the victim and taking some direct action towards the reintegration of the young person into the community.

Although the intention is that the outcome plan should not be more onerous than a sanction for such an offence applied by the court, the priority is to be creative and flexible in finding proposals for the plan that meet the needs and wishes of both the victim and the young person. It is often said by victims who have been through the youth justice conferencing process that the most powerful achievement for victims from a conference has often been the verbal apology offered to them by the young offender. I am aware that in describing the offering of an apology as an outcome it is sometimes easier to dismiss this as a token gesture, but for victims it is often the most crucial outcome they seek.

I have received a number of reports of many highly creative and, most importantly, effective plans that have been developed as a result of a youth justice conference. For example, one young woman who broke into a library agreed to attend the library to read and learn how to use other library facilities. She continued to attend the library with her two young sisters after the agreed period of the outcome plan had passed. A young boy who had broken into a car had described his interest in electronics during the conference. He agreed to use his skills to participate in the schools Rock Eisteddfod, becoming an integral backstage technician, and helping the school reach the grand final and win a prize.

The final example I would like to share with the House is that of a young Vietnamese man who had committed an assault. He agreed in his outcome plan to participate in a basketball refereeing course. He now has a full-time job and he is planning to undertake a Level 1 coaching certificate with the Department of Sport and Recreation. I am sure that honourable members can see the significance of all of these agreed outcomes in helping young people. With the support of conference participants and the active involvement of the victim, they can take a far more responsible and constructive path in their lives.

It is an outcome that suits both the victim, because he or she has some say in what action is undertaken by the young offender, and the young offender, because he or she has to take responsibility for his or her offending behaviour and take on board a more constructive approach to addressing the underlying causes of his or her offending behaviour. These examples reflect the uniqueness of the development of outcome plans to address offending behaviour by exploring more creative options than the traditional judicial system allows. More importantly, as these outcomes are discussed in depth with the young person and formalised only with his or her agreement, the level of participation and successful conclusion is vastly improved.
CAMPERDOWN PUBLIC SCHOOL

The Hon. Dr A. CHESTERFIELD-EVANS: My question is directed to the Special Minister of State, representing the Minister for Education and Training. What plans are on foot to sell the Camperdown Public School, or part of the Camperdown Public School campus? If so, will it be zoned educational, or will it be sold to developers? Has the Minister spoken to the Michael Steiner School, which is keen to buy the site? If not, why not?

The Hon. J. J. DELLA BOSCA: This is the only question I have been asked today, and I do not have the answer. I will undertake to get an answer to the honourable member’s question as soon as possible.
NEW SOUTH WALES FISHERIES DIRECTOR DISMISSAL

The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT: My question without notice is directed to the Treasurer, representing the Minister for Fisheries. In response to a question last week the Minister acknowledged that an inquiry into certain aspects of his department had been conducted. Did this contribute to the decision to dismiss the Director, Dr John Glaister? Does the termination of Dr Glaister’s employment herald a change in departmental policy? In particular, will the policy of encouraging the establishment of share managed fisheries be reinstated by the new Acting Director, Mr Steve Dunn, who actually formulated the policy and convinced fishermen to support it?

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The Hon. M. R. EGAN: The Hon. D. F. Moppett attributed comments to the Minister. I do not recall his comments last week. The only thing I can say at this point is that the Minister has asked the Premier’s Department to commence action to recruit a new chief executive for New South Wales Fisheries. In the interim Mr Steve Dunn has been appointed the Acting Director of Fisheries. I am informed by my colleague the Minister for Fisheries that Mr Dunn is highly qualified to act as interim director and has a detailed knowledge of Fisheries issues in New South Wales dating back to 1991 when he first joined New South Wales Fisheries.

Mr Dunn is currently the Director of Fisheries Management at New South Wales Fisheries. I am told that he is also a former director of Victorian Fisheries. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Fisheries Science from Plymouth University in the United Kingdom. I have been to Plymouth. It would be a lovely university to attend.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: It has a Bachelor of Surfing.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: There is no surfing to be done at Plymouth. It is a very nice place to visit.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Obeid should sack him as well. He got rid of Glaister. He should get rid of Dunn as well.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Is there anyone in the world the honourable member does not think should be sacked?

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: There are a lot of good people in Fisheries. Those two are not among them. Dunn and Glaister, both of them, get them gone.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: Has the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti anything else to say on this matter?

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: I will advise you later.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: If the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti would like to apply for the job, he would be eligible to do so if he were to resign from this Chamber.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: That’s the Greiner defence.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: If the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti were to decide to resign from this Chamber and apply for the job as head of New South Wales Fisheries I would give him a reference. It might not be a terribly good reference, but it would be a reference.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Point of order: The Minister has removed, as requested, the button that was larger than the security badge with which we are issued. It has simply got longer and it is detachable. It should be removed.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: It is not a badge.

The PRESIDENT: Order! I cannot see it.

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I am doing everything I can to comply with the size rules. I have asked that my metal badge be chopped up so that a bit is taken off the top and a bit is taken off the bottom. In the meantime all I have is this piece of paper that is floating around that happened to land on my coat.

If honourable members have further questions, I suggest they put them on notice.
BLACKTOWN LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTORAL ENROLMENTS

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: On 22 September the Hon. D. J. Gay, the Hon. Patricia Forsythe, the Hon. C. J. S. Lynn and the Hon. J. F. Ryan asked similar questions regarding the enrolment of Mr Hanlon. The Minister for Local Government has supplied the following answer:
    The answer for each question is the same. Under the Local Government Act 1993 the local government elections including preparation of electoral rolls is the responsibility of the State Electoral Commission. I have therefore referred the issues raised to Mr Dixon for his examination.
POLICE SERVICE BUDGET CUTS

The Hon. M. R. EGAN: On 22 September the Hon. Elaine Nile asked a question about budget cuts to the Police Service. The Minister for Police has provided the following answer:
    The Minister for Police is advised that the 1999-2000 total and unprotected budget allocations for Monaro local area command are both higher than the budget allocation and actual expenditure for the last financial year.
YANCO AGRICULTURAL HIGH SCHOOL

The Hon. J. J. DELLA BOSCA: On 23 September the Hon. Patricia Forsythe asked me a question without notice about Yanco Agricultural High School. The Minister for Education and Training has provided the following answer:

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    1. No.
    2. No.
    3. The Government has introduced a number of measures to ensure the viability of Yanco Agricultural High School. These include:
    The provision of boarder scholarships and the State living away from home allowance [LAFHA] to assist students attend the school.
    The broadening of the school curriculum to include subjects particularly attractive to students seeking an education in an agricultural high school, for example, the introduction of equine studies.
    The promotion of the school in various media including Win Television, the Land and other rural media and at various agricultural field days.
    Constant review of the school’s welfare and pastoral care procedures to ensure they continue to meet the needs of students and parents.
    As a result of the Government’s policies, senior officers advised that there has been strong interest from parents to enrol their students at the school for the year 2000.
SUNNING HILL SCHOOL

The Hon. J. J. DELLA BOSCA: On 26 October the Hon. Patricia Forsythe asked me a question about Sunning Hill School. The Minister for Education and Training has provided the following answer:
    Classes resumed at Sunning Hill on Monday 26 July. From Monday to Friday 30 July classes were undertaken for part of each day only. From Monday 2 August classes continued full time.
    Student attendance has been maintained and is currently above average rates. Students not attending school are provided with alternative educational programs, for example, distance education.
    Steps taken to assist the school manage the serious incident of 23 July 1999 included:
    •provision of a range of additional staff including executive teachers and teachers aides from Liberty Plains School - Minda Juvenile Justice Centre - and local school councillors
    •district student services and staff welfare support are providing ongoing assistance
    •employee assistance program psychologists provided intensive support to staff at the time of the incident
    •a joint memorial service was held at the school involving students and personnel from both the Department of Education and Training and the Department of Juvenile Justice.
    The current situation at the school is that students are offered a range of educational programs from school education and TAFE. Student attendance is above average. A joint professional training program on the management of students-trainees with challenging behaviour is planned for both Yasmar and Sunning Hill staff.

Questions without notice concluded.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON STATE DEVELOPMENT
Report: The Use and Management of Pesticides in New South Wales

Debate resumed from 13 October.

The Hon. R. T. M. BULL (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [5.10 p.m.]: I wish to briefly touch on some of the recommendations, having spoken in general terms about the use and management of pesticides in New South Wales when the matter was last debated. Recommendation 2 deals with regional agency committees. I believe there is some risk in setting up such committees because regional committees will involve many bureaucrats and public servants in unnecessary meetings on matters that could be dealt with on a statewide basis. Interagency committees perform a useful function on a whole raft of matters, in this case the use and management of pesticides in New South Wales. It is extremely useful to have general protocols across the State that can be developed through interagency committees but regional interagency committees are an overkill and of little benefit.

Recommendation 4 deals with minimum lot size that can result from subdivision of prime agricultural land. This is a significant matter and I am pleased that the committee has highlighted it. Subdivision has taken place mainly in major regional centres. Sensible subdivision in rural areas is vital because problems have arisen with the use of chemicals, and indeed with a whole raft of normal agricultural practices. The Hon. D. J. Gay would be well versed on right-to-farm issues, and irresponsible subdivision or lots that are far too small are encompassed within those issues.

The Hon. D. J. Gay: And problems between viticulture and horticulture, which involve different chemicals.

The Hon. R. T. M. BULL: That is right, and often there is the argument of pesticides versus herbicides. The committee has done excellent work in highlighting this important issue. Recommendation 6 refers to education and training. Over the past few years there has been significant education and training and I commend the work of Avcare. The chemical agencies have protocols,
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which have been reasonably effective. However, we can never do enough and education is required through TAFE courses, short courses at agricultural colleges and so on. Education and training is important for the safe use and management of pesticides in New South Wales.

In recommendation 12 the committee recommended that lower concentrations or lower usage rates of pesticides be permitted by way of a pesticide order where the usage is not inconsistent with label directions and is approved by the National Registration Authority. I have no problem with that, provided the use of chemicals will achieve the correct result. It is obvious but worth highlighting that, in lowering concentrations, it should be borne in mind that the use of those chemicals must have a satisfactory outcome.

Recommendation 15 deals with responsible container disposal, an issue that has been around a long time. From time to time collection programs have been initiated, either through the Department of Agriculture or through local councils. One is often left with the problem of what to do with an empty container because many tips will not accept them and this can result in possible contamination of a site.

The Hon. D. F. Moppett: People sneak in and dump them.

The Hon. R. T. M. BULL: Yes, because no provision is made by local council, the Environment Protection Authority or other authorities. The Environment Protection Authority should co-operate with industry to develop responsible container disposal. Recommendation 19 recommends that an offence be created for the intentional or negligent pesticide use or disposal that threatens or harms the environment. That is necessary and is commensurate with the earlier recommendation. However, guidelines are needed with respect to such a proposal to ensure that users are aware of what constitutes use, misuse and proper disposal of pesticide containers.

In recommendation 25 the committee recommended that an offence be created for failure to read instructions on the label. That has been a problem in the past because many users do not understand English and their failure to read the label has been through lack of basic literary or language skills rather than deliberate failure to read the instructions correctly. Labelling should be easy for people to read and comprehend. A label that has an extraordinary number of words in fine print inhibits the reader’s ability to comprehend the instructions.

With respect to the use of aircraft, I commend the Australian agricultural aviators in establishing protocols over many years. Recommendation 30 builds on that work. Aerial spraying, an important initiative, is quick and effective but it has the potential to do the greatest harm if conditions are not right. Recommendation 35 indicates that the Pesticides Act should be amended to clearly define the boundaries and responsibilities of each party for the application of pesticides, in particular, the advice given by consultants and agronomists. This important issue should not be considered lightly. I refer to the Helix contamination case. The chemical was used on cotton and then transferred to cattle through cotton by-products being used as feed during drought.

Although the contamination was not life threatening, it affected our overseas markets. A successful court case was launched against the chemical company. Legal liability can result from the advice of consultants and agronomists and we must ensure that our actions do not curtail the activities of Department of Agriculture agronomists and others who give advice to the best of their ability and in good faith to assist farmers on the chemical procedures to be carried out.

I am concerned to ensure that this is treated carefully. Australian farmers do not want to end up in a situation similar to the one that has occurred in the United States of America, where people have gone mad over litigation. Farmers who cannot make money out of their crops are making money out of litigation, and I do not think they are desirable outcomes arising from these recommendations.

Recommendation 45 deals with the standing committee monitoring the implementation of the amendments to the Pesticides Act. I am concerned that the standing committee might be taking on more than it really needs to. I understand the intention of what is proposed, but whether it will be able to properly monitor the implementation of the amendments over the next four years is doubtful. Perhaps the committee should instead be a reporting mechanism so that the Government will know what has been done and so that the committee can more easily examine and monitor the implementation of the amendments. I await the outcome with interest.

It is important for the Government to take the report seriously; otherwise, the Parliament will have a right to know why the Government has not proceeded appropriately. I conclude by saying that last year I had the pleasure of launching in Orange a particular program conducted by AvCare relating to the safe transportation of chemicals. On that
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occasion AvCare representatives and everyone else who attended were very concerned about the number of farmers who place themselves and their families at risk by transporting chemicals in the boots of their cars rather than in an appropriate vehicle, such as a utility or a truck.

Accidents that result in chemical spills within the confines of a passenger space in a car place the lives of farmers and their family members at risk. The program that I launched was "Ute it, don’t boot it", which I believe has been fairly successful in reminding farmers to exercise care with chemicals. In particular, it was mentioned that farmers should not put their wives and other family members at risk by asking them to pick up a drum of chemicals on the way home from collecting children from school.

That is not safe practice and it is better to avoid carelessness by making a separate trip to transport the chemicals in the back of a utility. The report contains many excellent recommendations. I congratulate the committee. I believe the report will further the debate and hopefully lead to some very important amendments being made to the Pesticides Act. It will certainly further the debate on the use and management of pesticides in New South Wales.

The Hon. I. COHEN [5.23 p.m]: I speak as a member of the committee that provided the report which is the subject of this take-note debate, namely, the Report on the Use and Management of Pesticides in New South Wales. It is over a quarter of a century since Rachel Carson gave the call to become aware of the facts surrounding the use of dangerous pesticides. In the years since Silent Spring was published, however, we have continued down the road of increased pesticide use, despite the warning signs. New South Wales is certainly no exception.

The complexity of pesticide problems is rapidly taking on other dimensions with the addition of concerns about genetically modified crops made tolerant to herbicides, and crops that have been engineered to express their own pesticides. Community confidence in the government and industry to ensure the health and safety of the people in the community in the face of these threats is badly eroded. There are global concerns and actions are under way in other countries to reduce the pesticide load on the environment.

International trading partners are demanding clean, green produce from Australia and, according to Australia’s international commitments, pesticide use must be consistent with the principles of environmentally sustainable development [ESD]. The impact of pesticides on the environment and on community health is an ongoing concern for the Greens. Community members from throughout the State frequently contact the Greens to report adverse experiences with pesticides. Only last week another school bus spraying incident was reported to my office.

On that occasion the incident occurred in Narromine, where a school bus driver was forced to navigate through a cloud of pesticides because of a ground rig operation which was occurring next to a main road during school bus hours. No notification was given to the driver about the spraying to enable her to avoid it. Furthermore, the driver felt hesitant about reporting the incident to the authorities because after previous reports she made about the school bus being sprayed there was no resultant action at all to curb those practices and the experience left her feeling persecuted for having raised the alarm.

A growing body of scientific and anecdotal evidence indicates that pesticide pollution in New South Wales is extensive. Inland rivers are polluted; there is a legacy of contaminated cattle dip sites; endosulfan residues are being found in beef; children are being sprayed while they wait for school buses; ground water contamination is occurring; rainwater tanks are being polluted; and Gunnedah was enveloped in a cloud of pesticides during the last spraying season, to mention just a few issues.

The pesticide pollution in New South Wales is clearly a persistent and systemic problem. Rural communities are living dangerously in environments in which local agricultural practices are being conducted without appropriate social and environmental assessment. Urban communities are also vulnerable. Children are particularly susceptible, and the Government has a duty of care to ensure that their future health is protected. Left unchecked, pesticide use in New South Wales and adverse incidents associated with its use will continue to increase.

Rivers will continue to be polluted; livestock and drinking water will continue to be contaminated; and children will go on being exposed to dangers. Industry has repeatedly shown that it cannot be trusted to deliver safe pesticide application through self-regulatory mechanisms. Because of the significant public health and environmental impacts associated with pesticide use, the Government must ensure a level playing field where the precautionary principle guides its decisions and actions.

Successful programs for pesticide use reduction have already been established internationally. Sweden, Denmark and the
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Netherlands, for example, have been used as models for other initiatives to take place around the world. The programs have successfully reduced pesticide use by significant amounts and have focused the agricultural sector on developing non-chemical approaches to farming and to pest management. The success of these pesticide reduction programs has required a shift in attitude towards the way that pesticides were regulated and used.

Essentially, there was an agreement that pesticide use had to be reduced; the risks were simply too great to continue down the old path. New South Wales is a significant user of pesticides - perhaps the biggest user in Australia - and should be leading the way with the management and regulation of pesticides in Australia. Instead, the Act, which is over 20 years old, fails to protect the community and environment from pesticide exposure. Certain agricultural industry groups and farmer associations have dominated the scene.

New South Wales is poised at a historic turning point. The Government has the opportunity, through effective legislation, to ensure that pesticide pollution is minimised and to focus the State’s agricultural sector on alternative, less chemically intensive approaches to farming that will ensure productivity as well as protect the environment and health. A strong regulatory framework, education and research are key elements in the scheme to stop the misuse of pesticides. Concern and medical evidence alone justify amendments to the Pesticides Act.

According to a Newspoll 1998 survey which was carried out for the Total Environment Centre in 1998, 86 per cent of people in New South Wales are very concerned about the effects of pesticides, and 92 per cent are in favour of improving controls on the use of pesticides. Last season was a disaster and resulted in the Australian beef industry being severely disadvantaged because of endosulfan residues which were caused by pesticide drift off cotton crops.

Cattle farmers have expressed anger that their industry is wearing the external costs of the cotton industry and are bracing themselves for another season of endosulfan contamination. An excerpt from the Northern Daily Leader of 19 October 1999, under the headline "Anger at Endosulfan test", the following is stated:
    Northern NSW beef producers and processes are being penalised by new endosulfan guidelines that could cost them millions in lost revenue . . . It is believed the test could cost abattoirs up to half a million dollars a week and force them to boycott the entire region . . . Bindaree Beef Abattoir says processors could not afford to pay for the cotton industry’s mistakes . . . "We have always supported the local industry, but if we don’t get adequate compensation we will have to buy cattle elsewhere . . . Last year cattle producers on the "E-list" lost more than 15c/kg and were often overlooked at saleyards . . . it makes much more sense to get rid of the problem by banning it . . . "

The pesticide inquiry successfully provided a forum for all stakeholders to raise their concerns about pesticides. The impact of pesticide use and the evidence presented to the inquiry have resulted in recommendations by the committee for significant amendments to the legislation.

Of particular importance is the recognition in recommendations 4 and 21 of children’s unique susceptibility to pesticides and the need to implement planning controls for intensive pesticide-using industries. Recommendation 4 stated that adequate additional financial resources should be provided to the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning to enable the expeditious development of regional agricultural plans. In formulating those plans the department should consult with the community and move to incorporate provisions for the identification of areas incompatible with pesticide use, for example schools and organic farms.

Recommendation 21 stated that the Pesticide Act 1978 should reflect the greater sensitivity of children to pesticide exposure within the definition of "harm". The Greens’ dissenting report addressed aspects about which we believe the committee’s recommendation did not go far enough. I refer now to banning aerial spraying of agricultural chemicals. The Greens are extremely concerned about evidence given to the committee which suggests that schools and school bus routes have been aerially sprayed with agricultural chemicals.

Children are highly susceptible to the impacts of pesticide exposure. The risk of harm, or proof of actual harm, is not the issue in this instance; the Greens seek to ban such applications. In the United States of America six States have recognised the importance of controlling pesticide drift near schools by restricting and banning pesticide use in areas neighbouring a school or child care centre. Regarding the licensing of ground rigs to ensure a more comprehensive compliance with safety standards, as a large percentage of pesticide applications in agricultural areas are carried out using ground rig operations, pesticide spray drift associated with such applications can result.

Licensing would ensure a more comprehensive compliance with safety standards which, in turn,
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would minimise the risks associated with pesticide application. The Greens recommended, as a matter of urgency, that priority areas for regional agricultural plans be agreed upon by the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning; for example, the expansion of cotton in the Lachlan area. The nature of agriculture in New South Wales has changed. We now have large areas of land devoted to crops such as cotton and rice, which use large volumes of highly toxic chemicals.

Planning pressures are imposed as intensive pesticide-using crops impact on surrounding land-use activities such as grazing, organic farming and the surrounding communities. The endosulfan beef residue crisis last year indicated that this significant trade issue has raised questions about the level of contamination experienced by other produce near cotton crops that is not monitored. It also raised the question of what is happening to the nearby environment and communities.

Documented scientific evidence proves that pesticides associated with cotton crops move off the crops and contaminate the waterways. Cotton chemicals have been found in rainwater tanks up to three kilometres from likely sources. This was determined in a study carried out by the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority [EPA] and the New England Public Health Unit, and, despite assurances that a report would be made public, no report has been forthcoming.

A CSIRO investigation of endosulfan transport mechanisms in the riverine environment found that volatilisation of endosulfan from the cotton crop is a continuous process which eventually removes up to 70 per cent of the total endosulfan deposited during a spray; and it goes up in the air and causes pollution. Intensive pesticide-using agriculture, which poses significant risks to the environment and public health, should be regulated through planning instruments.

Why should agriculture be treated any differently from a factory in an urban area, where a raft of development and planning controls apply? Why should cotton growers be able to establish anywhere they like and make life hell for their neighbours and pollute the environment? The current development application [DA] process to establish a cotton farm required by Dubbo City Council as part of its local environmental plan is excellent.

Without this process, the Dubbo community would have a cotton farm a few kilometres from the centre of town on the banks of the Macquarie River next to a sensitive aquifer recharge area. With planning controls in place the pros and cons of the DA can be debated in the community in which the main impacts will be felt. However, I am afraid that that cotton farm, to which I have referred and which is in dispute, planted its crop before it went through the due process with council. That is of great concern to the Greens.

The Greens believe training should be mandatory for all professional and commercial applicators of pesticides, because a large percentage of applications are lodged by commercial applicators. The provision of a clear recommendation about the need for training is essential. One of the fundamental complaints of rural and urban communities is that a user of pesticides is not obligated to notify neighbours prior to the proposed application. Under those circumstances innocent bystanders can become the victims of pesticide trespass.

Mandatory notification at least 48 hours before an application is made is critical, because it will enable people to institute precautionary measures to protect themselves. The precautionary principle must be applied because we keep hearing about serious, unanticipated health and environmental impacts of pesticides. Access to data about the volumes and types of pesticides used in regions must be made available to the community. It is dangerous not to know enough and we have to guard against it.

The community has a right to know about prior notification of intended pesticide application. It addresses the rights of the community and the environment to avoid, or be protected from, exposure to pesticides. Notification is the precautionary principle in action and must be applied given the ongoing discovery of serious, unanticipated health and environmental impacts of pesticides. Precedents for prior notification of pesticide application are firmly established in countries such as the United States of America.

Precedents have also been established in self-regulatory guidelines by Australian rural communities. According to the Building Code of Australia notification of preconstruction pesticide application for the management of structural pests is required. The National Registration Authority recently altered the label for endosulfan to require prior notification of its use because of its potential to impact on neighbours. Byron Shire Council requests prior notification if aerial spraying of pesticides is to take place.

Third party rights are an established part of new environmental legislation. Since their introduction in 1979 with the Environmental
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Planning and Assessment Act there have been claims that there would be a flood of vexatious litigation. However, with third party rights now in place in various legislation no such flood has occurred. Third party rights must occur at two levels in relation to the Pesticides Act. Firstly, to restrain breaches of the Act, in particular where the EPA fails to act and significant damage has been caused to persons, property or the environment; secondly, to ensure the proceedings under the Act are correctly implemented.

Third party rights in the Pesticides Act are an essential safety net for the community to encourage the enforcement of the Act by the EPA. Provision of these rights will ensure improved community and environmental health and will lead to responsible use of pesticides. Reducing the risks associated with pesticides is an ongoing and complex task. New information is constantly coming to light and the Government must remain informed about these developments and set targets for risk reduction based on data about pesticide use in New South Wales.

Currently we do not know what is being used where and in what quantities. How can we possibly carry out risk assessments without this fundamental layer of data? Obviously, there needs to be an annual reporting of pesticide use. Because this issue crosses so many jurisdictions, including health, agriculture, local government and the Environment Protection Authority, it is critical that the issue is tackled from all sides and involves all relevant ministries and representatives from community and environmental groups.

The proposed advisory council must not be just an advisory committee with minimal impact; it must report to Parliament and assist the Government to achieve the goal of reducing pesticide pollution so that New South Wales will lead the way with the regulation and management of pesticides, not drag the chain as it is currently doing. Participation on the pesticide inquiry has been a learning experience for all involved. I hope that the Government will follow through on the recommendations, including the dissenting recommendation that I undertook to make for the health and safety of the people of New South Wales and also for environmental integrity.

It is also extremely important that any information promotes the concept of clean, green agriculture. That is a winner on an international basis. More often the international community is calling out for organic and clean, green agriculture. Markets are expanding, particularly in Japan, where new interest has been expressed in pesticide-free products.

Australia is well poised and has a great opportunity in the global market to capitalise on that. In the medium and long term that will reap significant benefits for the farming community, which can look towards the reduction of pesticides and respect for both human and animal life, as well as for the environment, and a far more judicious use of land, driven by clean legislative reform by the Government.

Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. I. M. Macdonald.
DRUG SUMMIT LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE BILL
Second Reading

Debate resumed from an earlier hour.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [5.38 p.m.]: I have already covered a number of points relating to the Drug Summit Legislative Response Bill and have indicated my concern about the approach of the Drug Summit, the structure of the Drug Summit, the delegates to the Drug Summit, and so on. As a person who has been involved with many of these issues over the years I represent one side, which is summed up by zero tolerance and strong laws but also strong rehabilitation programs to help addicts get off drugs.

On the other side is the drug lobby. The people in it have good intentions but I believe their policies will increase drug problems in our nation. Over the past couple of years the strategies of the drug lobby have changed. This bill represents that change. The drug lobby and members of this Chamber who support the bill know there is strong opposition to it. Members of the public are very uneasy about proposals for shooting galleries, heroin trials and so on.

I know some parents have lost children and they have come together in a group to argue for shooting galleries, but I do not believe they represent the mainstream parent groups in this State. Because of that strong public opposition the drug lobby changed its strategy. Its new strategy is not to press for legalisation of marijuana or legalisation of heroin. It is now pressing for trials. There are trial shooting galleries, trial heroin distribution programs and trial needle distribution programs.

If anyone raises an objection, they say it is only a trial and if it does not succeed it can be stopped. This is a trap. The use of the word "trial" is designed to hoodwink the public. Members of the
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public think that if the trial fails the Government will put a stop to it. I do not believe the people in the drug lobby will stop. Once they get a trial I believe they will find ways to demonstrate that the trial has been successful. In 18 months time the drug lobby will say that no deaths have occurred within the shooting gallery, and that that represents success.

I do not believe that is the measuring rod at all, but I believe an attempt will be made to prove that the shooting gallery succeeded and therefore should continue, and that we should open more of them across the State. The Labor Government in Victoria has said it is going to start with five straight away. Over a period the trial becomes institutionalised, part of the scene, and it virtually becomes legalised in the State. The same thing would happen if we conducted a heroin trial.

I am concerned that this strategy seems to be gaining some momentum in New South Wales. People asked for a needle exchange trial to see how that would work. Before long it was a needle distribution program and no longer a trial. It goes on and on. In the first year a few thousand needles were distributed; last year up to 20 million needles were distributed throughout Australia, 9.8 million in New South Wales. It has become institutionalised. It is now politically correct to have a needle distribution program and those of us who question it are shouted down. It has now become part of our society.

I put that on record so that people will not fall for this trial approach. Another concern is our relationship with the United Nations and United Nations declarations and covenants on drugs. The Hon. R. S. L. Jones and the Hon. I. Cohen quoted from the covenant on the rights of the child and said that some of the Government proposals in this bill are draconian and go against that covenant. But what about the United Nations conventions on drug control that Australia has signed? Are we concerned about breaching those conventions?

The United Nations Narcotics Control Board has taken up the issue of this bill, which is unusual. I do not know how often United Nations bodies look at what other nations are doing. Australia is only a small nation compared with the United States of America. New South Wales is but one State within that nation, but the United Nations Narcotics Control Board is concerned about what we are doing today in Parliament. It is concerned because it is opposed to what we are doing. On 5 September, under the headline "Heroin gallery lashed, UN warning to Carr" the Daily Telegraph reported:
    The United Nations has warned that Premier Bob Carr’s proposed heroin shooting gallery will spark increased drug trafficking in Sydney.
    It says the planned trial, at Kings Cross, would seriously breach Australia’s obligations as a signatory to a 1988 international drug convention.

It is not something that was signed 100 years ago; it is a very recent international drugs convention. I raised this issue in the House in questions to the Minister when the narcotics board expressed those concerns. The Special Minister of State seemed to be hesitant but said the Government was not worried; that it was meeting the covenant. The Attorney General appeared confident about what the Government was doing. Obviously, he is the one giving legal advice on the issue. As I said, the Special Minister of State was a bit concerned about the possibility that we could be breaking a United Nations convention.

The Federal Government should take up this issue as well. I am disappointed that the Prime Minister, when he heard about this possibility, made a statement that he would not interfere in New South Wales. I suppose that is part of the Federal Government’s policy of recognising the sovereignty of State governments and Parliaments. But I believe in this case he should have expressed concern and said that he would follow it up. Other honourable members have indicated that we are breaking our own Federal customs laws, which are very clear about heroin and other illegal imports.

This bill will legalise the possession of one gram of heroin. It will legalise the possession of small quantities of heroin. The Government has a responsibility to say that we should not break a United Nations convention and we should not break Federal customs laws. The Government should not take a unilateral decision to introduce something that is not widely supported by the other States or by the Federal Government.

Another area of concern is the role in this trial of the Sisters of Charity. Obviously the Government is pleased to have their involvement in the trial. I presume that Dr Wodak from St Vincent’s Hospital played a big role in their involvement in the shooting gallery, which lends a degree of respectability to it. I have written to all Catholic cardinals and bishops asking them whether they endorse the proposal by the Catholic Sisters of Charity to run the shooting gallery. I have not got very far with them. They still seem to be considering their position.

As a good non-Catholic I thought I would write to the Pope. I wrote to the Vatican, to the
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papal nuncio who represents the papacy in Australia, and also to the heads of all the different commissions or councils, such as the Commission for the Family, that operate within the Vatican and provide teaching in various areas.

As they are located in Rome I have not received immediate answers. However, I received one letter dated 15 October from the Vatican which I thought would be of interest to Labor members who are members of the Catholic Church. They should be interested in what the papal representative wrote to me. I asked about the heroin injecting room trial and requested from the church and the various commissions their view about the role to be played by the Sisters of Charity. The letter is written in English but the letterhead, which is in Latin, states: The Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers. Some honourable members who are Latin scholars might be able to better translate the letterhead. Archbishop Javier Lozano B. states:
    On drug use the Catholic teaching has been very clear. We would like to quote Pope John Paul II: From the moral viewpoint "using drugs is always illicit, because it implies an unjustified and irrational refusal to think, will and act as free persons". And using drugs is anti life: "One cannot speak of ‘the freedom to take drugs’ or of ‘the right to drugs’, because human beings do not have the right to harm themselves and they cannot and must not ever abdicate their personal dignity, which is given to them by God. (Both quotations from Pope John Paul II, To the participants at the International Conference on Drugs and Alcohol, November 23, 1991 . . . and reproduced in the Charter for Health Care Workers, Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Vatican City, 1995 no. 94 and 96.) The Code of Canon Law says: "The use of drugs causes grave harm to health and to human life.

[Interruption]

I might receive other letters from the Vatican. However, I do not want to get myself into an argument with the local hierarchy. The implication is that the Sisters of Charity should not supervise people who are injecting themselves with drugs. In response to an earlier interjection concerning the Catholic Weekly, I have an article from that publication dated 24 October. The Catholic Weekly often prints a great many articles which it could be argued represent the views of the Catholic Church.

The 24 October edition of the Catholic Weekly has a number of articles under the heading "Drug Feature". All the information contained in those articles is critical of the proposed shooting gallery and, in particular, of the role of the Sisters of Charity. There is even a suggestion in one of the articles that the Sisters of Charity have in some way withdrawn from this proposal. That may or may not be true, but it raises a question of doubt about it. One of the articles states that no nuns will be involved in the shooting gallery. Sisters are usually nuns, so some Catholic lay people may be involved with the Sisters of Charity and they may staff the shooting gallery. Page 16 of this Catholic Weekly states:
    In an act of political opportunism and monumental spiritual blindness the "Clean Room" package is being sold under the "brand name" of the Sisters of Charity. It is additionally underwritten by the enormous prestige accumulated since the Sisters established St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney last century. Implicit in the rosy media image projected by its supporters is the unspoken presumption that the Sisters of Charity who run St Vincent’s can do no wrong.

The article continues:
    The Sisters’ motives are pure. Who could argue against their decision on that score? No one. But, what about their actions? What precisely does their free act of choice objectively reach out to embrace and thereby accomplish? The answer is unavoidable. Their decision, considered as their free act of choice, immediately embraces all the necessities to facilitate drug abuse - bar the drugs themselves.

The article then states:
    In the name of true compassion, we must question whether the Sisters have averted to what their chosen actions actually say? Objectively speaking and in the first place, they are aiding and abetting drug abusers, souls tragically enmeshed in the culture of death, to break the law of the land.

The article then acknowledges that this bill will make it legal, and states:
    But, and this point is far more serious, by their deliberate and free decision the Sisters are actively assisting unfortunate drug addicts to break the moral law. Has God almighty so endorsed Mr Carr that He has decided to put the natural law also aside for the Sisters?
    What is certain is that the Catholic Church regards drug abuse as an intrinsic evil. In other words, no Catholic may be involved in measures enabling drug abuse. The moral advisers of this trial should have known that the Church has vehemently insisted that needle exchange programs totally violate her moral teaching. The decision of the Board of St Vincent’s has projected the Sisters of Charity far more than one step beyond that. However pure the Sisters’ goals or their motives, in the cold light of day their deliberate choice involves them inextricably in the evil-doing of the habitual evil-doer, the drug addict, in a way that can never be justified.

I refer honourable members to those articles. That edition of the newspaper also has a large article on page 17 dealing with whether the shooting gallery, or so-called safe injecting room, contravenes Australia’s obligations to the United Nations. It appears as though the Catholic hierarchy has left it to the Catholic Weekly to express its concerns,
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without actually quoting Cardinal Clancy, which is what the Catholic Church often does. Articles are published and one has to draw one’s own conclusions from those articles published in the official publication of the Catholic Church.

I will not take up the time of the House by quoting from the many other articles that I have. However, I wish to place one practical matter on the record. I have had some information from a New South Wales magistrate who deals with many cases involving young people who take drugs. He advised me of something which I believe to be important. He said:
    The NSW statistics from the Coroner’s office -

he was referring to those who die from drug overdoses, a matter about which we have not heard much -
    from June 1997 to June 1999, as with the 1998 statistics show that most deceased use a multiplicity of drugs in their bodies, usually morphine prescribed drugs. In about one third of the cases there was found no presence of morphine. The 1998 statistics showed the presence of methadone, in some instance with morphine, in 55 cases, along with other drugs in most instances. This in itself indicates addicts can die from an over-use of prescribed drugs. Add morphine and it may become a lethal combination.

For those who want a shooting gallery at Kings Cross, this is an important point:
    The statistics show that in the main they die -

those who overdose -
    at home or in the homes of others with very few being found dead on the streets (so far only 2 out of 159 looked at) albeit some 22 have died in hospitals with the possibility they had overdosed on the streets. Their average age for the 1998 statistics was 36 years and appears to be about the same for the current lot. Very few were young people (19 out of the 319 deaths in which morphine was found present in the body).

I shall not list all the other details, such as how many times people must inject. Many addicts inject more than once. I do not believe they will go backwards and forwards to the Kings Cross shooting gallery or that their whole life will revolve around that shooting gallery. Addicts will not do that even if they believe it will save them. I foreshadow that I will move amendments in Committee. One deals with the objectives of the bill, under the heading "Parliamentary objectives". It states:
    The enactment of this Part should not be taken to indicate that Parliament endorses or encourages the use of illegal drugs (such as heroin) which are addictive and harmful to both the mind and body. It is Parliament’s preference that heroin addicts should urgently enter into a traditional rehabilitation program or rapid detox centre program, or both such programs.

I do not believe that 18 months is necessary to assess the success or otherwise of the shooting gallery. I shall move an amendment to change that period to six months. I believe also that the review of this proposal is extremely critical and I shall move an amendment that will establish a review committee that I consider is a more objective committee.

The Government has not said who will be the members of its proposed Review Committee, but I am concerned that the review by that committee will be conducted by those who advocated or promoted the shooting gallery, who, obviously, would say it was a success. Review Committee members must be able to objectively review the operation.

My amendment No. 4 provides that six members will be appointed by the responsible authorities, one from the Department of Health, one from the Police Service, one from the Salvation Army, one from the Rapid Detox Centre, one from PRYDE and one from Drug Watch. Those people would make up an objective group outside of what I call the drug lobby, the drug reform movement, et cetera.

My amendment No. 6 will clarify that children cannot access the centre. The bill does not make that clear. Obviously, children cannot go into the injecting room, but children should not be involved in the centre in any way. A list of services will be provided at the shooting gallery and my amendment will add a further paragraph as follows:
    (v) the services of a rapid detox naltrexone provider, and

The people who will conduct this facility will not necessarily do anything but they will be available to give assistance and advice. If an addict says, "I’d like to know more about rapid detox" the Sisters of Charity may say, "We know nothing about it." That information should be available to be given to people using the shooting gallery.

I am concerned about the provision for legalising small quantities of drugs. The bill refers to exempt quantities. I am not suggesting that in drafting the bill the Government has attempted to conceal something it was trying to achieve, but the bill merely states that there will be exempt quantities. Under the law, exempt quantities are small quantities. People could think that an exempt quantity is a small quantity and some day they will be told what is a small quantity.

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The small quantity referred to in this legislation is linked to the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act, which contains the definition of small quantity. "Small quantities" is a legal term and, as defined in the bill, include one gram of heroin and other drugs. I do not believe that the public realise that in providing a shooting gallery the Government is legalising small quantities of heroin.

The Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act has a table that outlines various penalties for different quantities of drugs. Obviously, small quantities attract the lowest penalty, large quantities the next highest and traffickable quantities attract the highest penalty. This bill legalises small quantities under the terms outlined in that Act. I shall move an amendment to delete that reference.

Another of my amendments relates to the provision that police will not have any discretion to charge someone with drug offences. I have confidence that the police will not abuse any discretionary powers they have in relation to drug offences, and they must have a discretion to charge anyone who breaks our drug laws. A dealer may pretend to use the shooting gallery, and a police officer must have some discretion to make an arrest in that instance.

It is absurd to say that police will have no discretionary powers in those instances. I understand why the Government is washing its hands of responsibility at the shooting gallery should anyone die: so it cannot be sued for compensation even if people who work at the shooting gallery are negligent in their actions. The Government has said it will close off any claims for compensation. That process is a denial of natural justice.

Some provision should be available to allow a claim for compensation to be made, but I do not suggest that the claim would be automatically upheld by the courts. There may be reasons for certain action to be taken in the gallery that may result in a death, but I believe it is wrong for the bill to state that rights to compensation are not available. I am surprised that Labor members of the Left consider this a fair provision, when they argue for the rights of people in so many other ways.

New section 36O states that no criminal liability will apply for persons engaged in the conduct of the licensed injecting centre. New section 36P has the heading "Exemptions from civil liability in connection with conduct of licensed injecting centre". Regardless of what happens at the injecting centre, an exemption from any action, liability, claim or demand applies. My amendment will give some rights to the person’s next of kin to raise matters about compensation.

I shall explain my amendments in more detail in Committee, if that stage is reached. I do not support the bill and I will vote against it. A number of crossbench members have spoken in the debate in support of the bill, and therefore the second reading of the bill could be passed. I must face the reality then of dealing with my amendments in Committee. The Christian Democratic Party opposes the bill. We understand that the Government has good intentions, but we believe those intentions are misdirected. When dealing with drug issues one deals with reality versus delusion. This bill is based on a delusion and not on reality.

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO [6.08 p.m.]: I support the Drug Summit Legislative Response Bill. I congratulate the Government on its courage in introducing this legislation. This is one of the most important and most controversial pieces of legislation I have considered in my parliamentary career. Many people support this bill, and many crossbench members have spoken in the debate. Certainly, as Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile said, many people are critical of its purpose and will not support it. It is truly a shame that we must legislate to save the lives of Australians that would otherwise be lost due to our unjust laws.

The bill amends the Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 and other Acts to implement certain recommendations of the New South Wales Drug Summit, which was held in May in this Chamber. The bill establishes a single medically supervised injecting centre for an 18-month trial period, prohibits the advertising of premises for unlawful administration of drugs, and, the most controversial element, amends the Bail Act 1978 to impose conditions requiring an accused person to undergo treatment. I do not agree with those conditions for many reasons, to which I will refer later.

The bill also allows the use of sniffer dogs in juvenile justice centres, allows procedures under the Young Offenders Act 1997 to be used in relation to summary offences, and effects savings, transitional and other provisions by repealing the Drug Offences Act 1987. Let me state clearly and unequivocally that I am a firm believer in the tight regulation and restriction of the use and possession of drugs. Nevertheless, I recognise that they are a fact of life in society these days. We must legislate to recognise that people who choose to use drugs should do so in ways that minimise the risk to which they expose themselves. We must move with the times. Drugs
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are used by a number of species, not the least by humans, and not just for medicinal purposes.

Humans have used drugs for recreational and spiritual purposes for millennia. For example, beer was brewed by the Egyptians, wine was fermented in the ancient Sumer empire, and hallucinogens have been used by South Americans in shamanic rituals for thousands of years. Cannabis is recognised as one of the oldest known cultivated plants. It is known for its ancient use in both food and textiles. Following the opium wars of last century, which were a racist attempt by the British to addict the Chinese and thereby control them, Western democracies led the way in starting to restrict the use and possession of drugs. International treaties were signed and laws passed across the globe to restrict the freedom of certain citizens. Citizens’ rights were lost by governments attempting to protect them from harm done to themselves.

What we are doing is vital. Unfortunately, more often than not these attempts have been fed by fear and ignorance, as demonstrated in New South Wales by successive Labor and Coalition governments for decades, not to mention certain groups and individuals at the Drug Summit. For example, the words "addict " and "addiction" were used ad nauseam during the Summit, as if users should be marginalised. The World Health Organisation urges that such terms should be replaced by "dependent users" and "dependency", which are more correct terms because they describe behaviour.

In January the Sun-Herald published a rather scurrilous article about a supposed 12-year-old shooting up heroin in Caroline Lane, Redfern. It was later discovered that the boy was a 16-year-old known user who was allegedly paid some money by the newspaper for the use of his photo, hence feeding his dependency. The Government nevertheless reacted, maybe too quickly, by closing the local needle and syringe exchange program and putting out an all-points-bulletin to find the youth and provide him with treatment.

The closure of the program at Redfern put many users at risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C because they found it difficult to access clean injecting equipment. Aboriginal users were placed at particular risk in this instance. Subsequently the Premier promised the people of New South Wales a Drug Summit to discuss the increase in drug use - only illicit drugs - in the community. The question must be asked whether drug use has increased or whether it is the visibility and media space given to drug use and the increase in heroin overdoses that has intensified concern in both the Parliament and the community at large.

Makkai and McAllister noted in their 1998 research paper for the National Drug Strategy entitled "Patterns of Drug Use in Australia" that the use of so-called heavy illicit drugs has declined. Heroin use amongst 14- to 29-year-olds has shown some evidence of decline; likewise psychostimulant use. The most recent national household strategy, in 1995, showed that the use of hard drugs had declined, albeit marginally from 11 per cent to 10 per cent. There again, the recent report entitled "New South Wales Drug Trends 1998" on the findings of the Illicit Drug Reporting System [IDRS] notes that there has been an increase in heroin availability, purity and use in New South Wales.

Injecting drug use was first surveyed nationally in the 1988 National Drug Strategy, and then again in 1991, 1993 and 1995. It was noted that some 180,000 to 230,000 Australians inject at least occasionally, whereas the recent report from the Australian National Council on AIDS and Related Diseases and the Hepatitis C Virus Projections Working Group estimate that there are up to 330,000 injecting drug users in Australia. The national strategy revealed not only that there has been a decline in drug use but that the injection of drugs has remained relatively constant.

This is encouraging. However the incidence of sharing had increased from 18 per cent to 30 per cent. That figure may be reflected in Australia’s high hepatitis C transmission rates. At least the needle and syringe program, and the provision of safe injection techniques has so far kept HIV transmission rates among injecting drug users low. This is so unlike other countries. In the United States of America and some European nations where a less tolerant attitude is maintained, the incidence of HIV among crack injectors reaches over 80 per cent.

The problem therefore is in perception. This perception, as I have already stated, has been influenced greatly by the media and populist politicians feeding public hysteria. As the debate has ensued and Government harm reduction policies are becoming more visible, drug use becomes further demonised and users are condemned to the social scrapheap. Heroin deaths are therefore more visible.

There is no doubt that heroin deaths have increased dramatically across Australia. Professor Wayne Hall and Dr Shane Darke of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney have indicated that heroin overdose deaths in Australia
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increased from 70 in 1979 to 550 in 1995. In New South Wales from 1992 to 1996 there were 953 heroin-related fatalities. Those figures are contrary to those put by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile.

Significantly, 20 per cent of the deaths in this State occurred outside Sydney, 35 per cent occurred in Kings Cross and Cabramatta, and 61 per cent occurred in a home setting. In the majority of cases, a staggering 76 per cent involved polydrug use, 85 per cent were male and 85 per cent of cases involved dependent users.

The increase in heroin overdose deaths does not necessarily represent an increase in heroin supply, use or potency; nor is it some kind of weird consequence of the tried and effective Government needle and syringe policy. It is, in the main, a reflection of the lack of treatment options available to users, social setting and context, and an increase in social dislocation and youth alienation. Social dislocation and you alienation are compounded by unemployment, changes in technology, family breakdown and draconian government policies. Heroin deaths touch us all, but none more so than the families and friends of drug users.

Tony Trimingham, founder of Family Drug Support, led the way at the Drug Summit in calling for more treatment options. Tony lost his son Damian to heroin some three years ago. Damian was 23 when he died on the steps of St Margaret’s Hospital in Bourke Street, Surry Hills, one night in February 1997. Damian’s death in such tragic circumstances and Tony’s grief should never have occurred, and need not have occurred if Damian had been able to access a safe injecting room. Damian’s death is one of many. Just two weeks ago I attended a crossbench briefing in Parliament by family members and friends of drug users. Some stories were sad, some had a happy ending, but all were poignant. All reflected the need for change.

Some stories we heard were sad, some had a happier ending, but none were other than poignant. All reflected a call for change. Such change is needed, not tomorrow, not next week, but now. The war on drugs has alienated our youth. We need to be able to access and provide real life choices for all Australians. Social dislocation increases the likelihood of escapist behaviour and this is one reason why people take drugs. The greater the insecurity and dislocation, the greater the gap that needs to be bridged. Without that bridge the greater community will not be able to offer choice, the choice that only an individual can make.

This is the real sin of drug use - the calculated alienation of the user from treatment and from society. Drug use is rightly seen as a social and health problem. Therefore, opening a medically supervised injecting centre can be seen as a small but significant step in the reconciliation of users with the broader society. Reverend Ray Richmond, who was convicted yesterday of aiding and abetting, is one of those brave individuals in society who has sought reconciliation. He said on 2GB this morning that people are dying.

The Hon. Patricia Forsythe: He certainly was not convicted yesterday. The charges were dropped.

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO: No, he said this morning that his charges were not dropped. I heard it on the 2GB program of Jason Morrison, who asked him this question and it is on the public record that he said he was charged with aiding and abetting. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile might like to check the transcript. He said that the insistence of Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile that there be a police investigation of the premises was the reason he was charged.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: He was breaking the law.

The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO: Regardless of what happened, he was charged. He acted bravely and courageously because he was charged and convicted. I have no problem with offenders being charged. Facilitating contact with the users and allowing them to inject in a safe environment has the spin-off effect of optimising health outcomes. In this decision the Government should be applauded. The Drug Summit Legislative Response Bill seeks to scientifically trial a solution to prevent drug use deaths of people who might die under laws currently in place. In this regard the bill can be seen as a brave though still inadequate response to the death of Australian citizens.

The main purpose of the bill is to establish a single medically supervised injecting centre for the self-administration of prohibited drugs for a trial period of 18 months. One may ask why we should have a scientific trial in the first place. Evidence from overseas has shown that safe injecting rooms lessen the risk of overdose, minimise disease transmission, optimise health outcomes and improve public amenity. The Swiss, who take a holistic approach to health care in a broader social context, see injecting rooms as one small step in improving society generally.

The Swiss drug prevention, care and treatment policies are evaluated by the unit for evaluation of prevention programs of Lausanne’s University Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine
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Gervasoni and others who have evaluated the Swiss Federal measures have noted that as early as 1991 more than 80 per cent of the population were in favour of the distribution of injection material, whilst more than 60 per cent were in favour of heroin prescription. Injecting rooms are accepted as an integral part of such treatment options.

The Swiss operate what they call low-threshold centres, which represent a holistic approach to drug user health care. These centres have been operating since 1986. In 1995 there were 23 of these centres, opening mainly in the Swiss-German sector. Thirteen of these centres offer a range of services and usually include needle and syringe distribution, resident doctors, information on safe sex and on usage, as well as a safe injecting environment. The Swiss experiment with safe injecting centres and heroin prescription has been scientifically proven to have positive effects.

The centres have caused some political controversy, some centres have closed and others have opened in their place. The locations are varied. Some are in industrial areas, some are in hospitals, and one is nestled in a rather well-to-do suburb in which many doctors and lawyers reside.

By lowering the threshold, drug centre institutions are able to offer a greater number of users more suitable care and treatment alternatives. By opening low-threshold centres and using other harm reduction measures the Swiss have been able to dispel many of the stereotypes of users as down-and-out junkies and have been able to stabilise and reduce HIV transmission rates, which were originally more than 40 per cent.

There has not been one overdose death recorded in a safe injecting room in Switzerland. This is most significant, given that in one room in Zurich there was a total of 68,000 injections over a 12-month period. Germany and the Netherlands have had similar experiences. In Germany there are five centres in Frankfurt, there are others in Hanover, Bremen and Hamburg, and others are planned. Scientific evidence supporting the establishment of centres is clear. At one centre alone heroin overdose deaths fell from 147 in 1991 to 26 in 1997.

The incidence of HIV has decreased and legal proceedings have fallen dramatically, with a 90 per cent reduction in crime. Illegal trafficking in heroin has decreased to less than 30 per cent of previous rates. There have been no overdose deaths in any German centre. In the Netherlands, scientific evidence in support of safe injecting centres is also quite clear. Safe injecting centres operate in six cities. Both in Germany and the Netherlands safe injecting centres attract clients above the average of local drug users, further corroborating the evidence from Switzerland.

The evidence from overseas is clear: safe injecting centres work. Establishment of a trial centre in Kings Cross could be seen as offering the narrowest possible approach, but it must be supported. It was feared that the centres in the three European nations would attract beginners or young drug initiates. Studies have shown that they attracted many dependent users, particularly homeless youth, with a long history of use and signs of desocialisation. The centre is open to everyone who is 16 years of age and over. This is where I have problems. The Swiss acknowledge that people under the age of 18 and above the age of consent can make choices about their sexuality and about marriage. They pay tax and contribute to society like adults so they should also have a choice in relation to drug taking. The Swiss facilitate safe drug use for 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds by distributing clean injecting equipment and allowing them to use drugs in a safe environment.

That is most significant, given that there have been no heroin overdoses in any Swiss safe injecting centre. It is disturbing that the bill prohibits the use of a safe injecting facility for people aged 16 and 17 years. A 17-year-old married man accompanied by his 19-year-old wife, both of whom are dependent drug users, may seek the use of the injecting centre but the man will be excluded from using the facility. This not only puts him at risk of death from an overdose but places him at risk of incarceration, something his wife would not face. This is not some vague scenario but could be a real life or death situation. People aged 16 or 17 currently have access to the State needle exchange program, which minimises the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C infection that may result from sharing unclean equipment.

They have access to the methadone program, detoxification and rehabilitation centres. They are treated equally in nearly all other aspects of our society. Are we, as legislators, placing these youths at risk of a heroin overdose death by restricting their access to a safe injecting room? Are they not the ones who more importantly need care? In all honesty, how can we deny 16-year-old and 17-year-old youths access to safe injecting rooms while at the same time exposing them to risk? The simple fact is that the 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds who would use the centre, including young sex workers, are more hardened to the drugs scene. They will also be the ones who are most receptive to overall treatment and other health measures at the centre.

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I foreshadow that at the Committee stage I will move an amendment to schedule 1, proposed part 2A, new section 36D, which refers to the definition of the word "child". It is imperative that the injecting room is able to provide a service to 16-year-old and 17-year-old youths because they will not receive assistance from child protection services of the Department of Community Services. People who are turned away from injecting rooms because they are under 18 years of age will not receive any support or assistance from that department if they are at risk of abuse or collateral harm. That is because they come under the Children (Care and Protection) Act 1987. Under that Act the department can only receive notification of a child at risk of abuse or collateral harm if that child is under the age of 16 years.

The bill also offers a number of other devices to pave the way for the adoption of the Drug Summit recommendations. There are some with which I agree, and there are some with which I do not agree but, generally, I support the bill. I also support the use of drug sniffer dogs in children’s centres, but I hope that dogs that are at least approachable and friendly, such as beagles and the like, are used because German shepherds and other larger dogs can be very intimidating. The section that relates to bail conditions needs to be amended. If someone is able to obtain bail, surely the right to the presumption of innocence should apply. Anything that is less than voluntary treatment should be a matter of concern to honourable members.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the many community organisations that have approached my office with submissions and information on the bill, in particular the New South Wales Users and AIDS Association, Family Drug Support, Justice Action, the Multicultural Society of New South Wales, the Youth Justice Coalition and the AIDS Council of New South Wales. I congratulate the Government on having the courage to present this bill.

Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. Jan Burnswoods.

[The Deputy-President (The Hon. A. B. Kelly) left the chair at 6.33 p.m. The House resumed at 8.00 p.m.]
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE AMENDMENT (SEXUAL ASSAULT COMMUNICATIONS PRIVILEGE) BILL
Second Reading

Debate resumed from 20 October.

The Hon. J. M. SAMIOS [8.00 p.m.]: The Opposition does not oppose the bill, the objects of which are to amend the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 to re-enact the provisions of division 1 of the Evidence Act 1995 with modifications to ensure that the new provisions will apply to the production, whether required by subpoena or any other procedure, of such evidence; to expand the types of counselling communications under the re-enacted provision that will attract privilege; to amend the Evidence Act 1995 to provide for the contents of the documents and other evidence that were protected by privilege in criminal proceedings to be protected in civil proceedings in which substantially the same acts are in issue that were in issue in the criminal proceedings; and to make a related amendment to the Victims Compensation Act 1996 to ensure that certain evidence that is inadmissible under that section cannot be required to be produced by subpoena or other procedure.

The proposed legislation to amend the Acts to which I referred is the result of the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal in Regina v Young. As the Attorney has already indicated, the consequence of that decision is that the person who is entitled to assert a privilege when an attempt is made to adduce evidence of a sexual assault communication within a criminal proceeding is able to assert the same privilege when a document is produced to the court by way of subpoena or other procedure, resulting in the right of the defence to inspect sexual assault counsellors’ notes obtained on subpoena unless the court takes the view that there is no legitimate forensic purpose for such access. It has always been the Government’s intention - and I accept what the Attorney said in this regard - that the bill should be capable of being applied in all appropriate cases at all stages of the trial process.

The bill will not only amend the existing legislation to ensure that occurs, it will expand it to include a wider range of persons in the definition of "protected confider" and to include counselling communications made before any incident of sexual assault. The bill not only covers the existing loophole, it also has widened the range of persons who may be covered by the definition of "protected confider" and ensures protection of the confidence given before a particular sexual assault.

New section 58 (1) defines "protected confidence" as a counselling communication made by or about a victim or alleged victim of a sexual assault. It covers a wider ambit of counselling communication than contained in division 1B, part 3.10 of the Evidence Act 1995. The new definition of "counselling communication" in new section 58 (4) includes communication made in confidence by or to a parent, carer or other supported person to facilitate communication or to otherwise further the counselling process, and communication between councillors. It is fairly specific and wide ranging.

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The bill gives greater protection to those who are involved in sexual assaults later on and who want their communication protected. New section 58 (2) makes it clear that counselling communication is protected, even if it was made before the acts constituting the relevant sexual assault offence occur or are alleged to have occurred, although it does not relate to any condition arising from the sexual assault offence or alleged sexual assault. The bill has the support of the Law Society and the Women’s Legal Resources Centre. A letter dated 26 October faxed to me by Margot Rawsthorne states:
    I am writing to you concerning the above legislation, recently introduced into Parliament.
    The legislation is intended to strengthen the sexual assault communications privilege that was created by the Evidence Amendment (Confidential Communications) Act 1997. It will also close loopholes created by the Court of Appeal decision in the case of R v Young.
    We are in support of this legislation as it gives further protection to victims of sexual assault in hopefully ensuring that any communication made in the course of counselling will remain confidential and will only be disclosed in exceptional situations.
    We are anxious that the legislation should become law as soon as possible, and preferably by 1 November. There are many hearings that were adjourned pending the decision in Young and defence lawyers are now trying to get those matters back into court to take advantage of the technical loophole exposed in that case. We want to ensure those women have the protection of the law as was intended by Parliament when the original legislation was passed.
    We would therefore ask for your support in ensuring this Bill proceeds as speedily as possible.

The bill closes the loophole exposed by the decision in R v Young. The purpose of the bill is to provide for appropriate privileges involving people referred to in subsections (1) and (4) of new section 58, and extends the time to cover confidences before a sexual act. This is appropriate legislation to cover a grievous situation, and the Opposition does not oppose it.

The Hon. I. COHEN [8.10 p.m.]: I am pleased to support the Criminal Procedure Amendment (Sexual Assault Communications Privilege) Bill. The Greens political party strongly support the bill and congratulate the Government on introducing it to overcome the decision in R v Young, which was handed down earlier this year in the Court of Criminal Appeal. In 1997 the Government introduced legislation to ensure that communications between a sexual assault victim and his or her counsellor were generally excluded from being allowed as evidence in trials.

Under the 1997 Act the court could not give leave to adduce evidence of a protected sexual assault confidence or a document recording the protected confidence unless the court is satisfied that the evidence has substantial probative value, that other evidence of the protected confidence is not available, and that the public interest of maintaining the confidentiality in order to protect the confider from harm is substantially outweighed by the public interest in admitting the evidence.

The reason for that legislation was that many counselling relationships were being severely compromised by the threat that notes from the counselling session could be tendered as evidence at trials. As the Attorney General said in his second reading speech on the bill, the counselling relationship is most effective when there is complete trust, privacy and confidentiality. This enables victims to air extremely sensitive, personal and traumatic situations. This is how the therapeutic relationship works: victims can talk freely about the shocking encounter or encounters they have had to endure, and through this process psychological healing gradually takes place.

In submissions to the Attorney General in response to the discussion paper entitled "Protecting Confidential Communications from Disclosure in Court", which was the precursor for the original amendments to the Evidence Act, it was put that the failure to give counselling records privilege has had the following consequences: some victims choose not to obtain counselling; some victims obtain counselling but are guarded about what they reveal; some victims refuse to report the crime or be a witness for the prosecution; some counsellors do not take notes, or take notes which are cryptic and cannot be understood by others; and, some counsellors refuse to hand over the notes and are charged with contempt. Clearly, they are far from satisfactory situations.

In the judgment in R v Young, Justice Beazley was the only judge who dissented about confidential communications having public interest immunity. Justice Beazley held that confidential communications should be afforded privilege. In the course of her judgment she referred to a Sydney Rape Crisis Centre report on the impacts of the failure to accord counselling records privilege. The report states:
    We consider the knowledge that counsellors’ notes can be subpoenaed to be a major barrier for women who have been raped to laying a complaint with police, going ahead with the hearing, contacting sexual assault services and even continuing contact with the Centre . . . We estimate that this issue has influenced the decision of at least 25% of the women who
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have contacted SRCC over the past 5 years . . . out of about 2,700 new contacts per year . . . These women decided not to report to the police, not to proceed with court cases and in some instances to discontinue contact with sexual assault services . . . SRCC is the only rape crisis/sexual assault service in NSW where women who contact can remain anonymous . . . Women who contact frequently mention that they would not contact another sexual assault service because of a perceived and/or actual lack of complete confidentiality of files.

According to Justice L’Heureux Dube, who was quoted in Justice Beazley’s judgment, one of the most powerful disincentives to reporting sexual assaults is a woman’s fear of further victimisation at the hands of the criminal justice system. The Greens are particularly concerned about the impact that allowing such documents into evidence has on the reporting of sexual assault crimes. Victims of sexual assault experience a range of feelings including shock, fear, guilt, shame, depression and an inability to trust others. To be further burdened with the inability to get professional help for fear that the counselling session may later be used against them in court is totally counterproductive.

The Evidence Amendment (Confidential Communications) Act rectified this problem until R v Young. The New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal held in that case that division 1B of the Evidence Act does not apply to the production of documents on subpoena and that sexual assault communications are not immune from production. The Greens are pleased that the Government has rectified the problem that has arisen since the Young case in which counselling notes can be produced for the purposes of a subpoena but may not be admitted later in the actual trial.

In the Greens’ view it is correct that such notes be granted absolute privilege in preliminary criminal proceedings and that there should be a prohibition which is not absolute in final criminal proceedings. We are also pleased that the definition of "counselling communication" is extended to parents, carers and other supportive persons who may be present to facilitate communication between the counselled person and the counsellor. Victims of sexual assault may need these people to be present with them in the counselling sessions. They should not be excluded because the victims fear that the notes may later be used in evidence in criminal proceedings. It is with great pleasure that the Greens support the Government on this bill.

The Hon. R. S. L. JONES [8.16 p.m.]: I support the Criminal Procedure Amendment (Sexual Assault Communications Privilege) Bill and congratulate the Attorney General on a very worthwhile reform.

The Hon. Dr A. CHESTERFIELD-EVANS [8.18 p.m.]: This bill arises because of a decision in the Court of Criminal Appeal case of R v Young, NSW CCA 166. The matter stems from the Evidence Amendment (Confidential Communications) Act in 1997, which extended the privilege available in the Evidence Act 1995 to cover counselling communications in sexual assault matters. The amendments in this bill are the result of extensive consultation with workers in the sexual assault counselling area and the State’s peak legal bodies. The New South Wales Bar Association was the only group totally opposed to the bill.

The intention of the legislation was always to extend privilege to confidential communications at all stages of criminal proceedings, including counsellors’ notes obtained under subpoena. The judgement in R v Young ruled that where evidence of a sexual assault communication is called for on subpoena, it is not open to the defence to claim privilege. This is clearly against the intention of the amendment passed in 1997. It was always intended by that amendment to cover all evidence, including that gained under subpoena.

This was stated in the Minister’s second reading speech and acknowledged by most speakers to the bill. The importance of the privilege for sexual assault communications cannot be understated. It is vitally important that the victim in sexual assault cases discuss the circumstances of the assault in the confidence that no disclosure of those communications will be made at any stage of the trial process. Not to offer this safeguard would mean that the therapeutic benefits of the counselling process would be severely undermined and the process of rehabilitation would be delayed. The Australian Democrats wholeheartedly support this bill.

The Hon. J. W. SHAW (Attorney General, and Minister for Industrial Relations) [8.16 p.m.], in reply: I sincerely thank all members who spoke eloquently and in an informed way in support of this bill - the Hon. J. M. Samios, who led for the Opposition, the Hon. I. Cohen for the Greens, the Hon. R. S. L. Jones, and the Hon. Dr A. Chesterfield-Evans for the Australian Democrats. They all perceived the essentially correct point of the bill and I am grateful for their support. I commend the bill to the House.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time and passed through remaining stages.

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DRUG SUMMIT LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE BILL
Second Reading

Debate resumed from an earlier hour.

The Hon. P. T. PRIMROSE [8.21 p.m.]: I support the bill, the exposure draft of which was tabled in Parliament on 23 September. As a consequence, the draft was made publicly available. A number of organisations commented on the bill and 10 amendments regarding the medically supervised injecting room were made at the request of the Sisters of Charity. The Young Offenders Act amendment also has been tightened.

I wish to discuss a couple of the amendments in detail. First it was proposed to conduct a single 18-month trial of a medically supervised injecting room, and that was agreed to. Part of the proposal was that no-one under 18 years of age was to be admitted to the injecting room. If someone under the age of 18 years wishes to be admitted, he or she will be referred for counselling and treatment.

The second amendment to the exposure draft related to unauthorised and unlicensed injecting rooms. A new summary offence was created for advertising or holding out unlicensed premises for use as an injecting room. The third amendment allowed the courts to impose bail conditions requiring drug or alcohol assessment and rehabilitation. The fourth amendment related to the extension of the Young Offenders Act 1997 to cover minor drug offences and allow warnings, cautions and youth justice conferences.

The fifth amendment provided for the use of sniffer dogs in drug searches in juvenile justice centres. The sixth repealed the Drug Offensive Act 1987. A number of other matters have been mentioned in the debate, all of which have been adequately answered by the Minister, who has also undertaken to answer other minor matters that have been raised. For example, one of the questions often asked is: What is there to stop the honey pot effect around the injecting room site?

The police guidelines issued by the Commissioner of Police specifically state that there will not be a no-go area, that police activity will not be restricted in the immediate area of the injecting centre, and that police will carry out normal duties. This means that police will remain free to actively pursue any drug dealers who operate in the vicinity of the injecting room.

Although there is much more I could say about this bill, I intended to speak only briefly to indicate my support for the bill. I was very pleased to have been the one to move the adoption of this proposal by the Labor caucus and endorse what the Minister has proposed. To enable us to move to the next logical step, I urge all honourable members to support the bill.

The Hon. JAN BURNSWOODS [8.24 p.m.]: I support the bill and I commence by again congratulating the Government on the Drug Summit that was held in the New South Wales Parliament from 17 to 21 May this year. Honourable members will recall that the Summit brought together drug experts, parents, former drug users, some current drug users and community leaders to discuss the drug issue. During the five days of the Summit many honourable members were able to put aside at least some political differences and opposing views on this issue to discuss a problem that all honourable members agree is serious, no matter how much their views on drugs, particularly the use of heroin, may vary.

There was consensus on much that came out of the Summit. Since then the Government has issued different documents relating to its plan of action. This bill was first released as an exposure draft a month or more ago and it has been debated in the community. Partly as a response to feedback from the community, it has been varied, and it is now before the Parliament in this form.

I will comment on areas in which I believe the response might have gone somewhat further. However, I make it clear that the Government is to be congratulated on introducing this legislation and, indeed, on its whole response. One of the very important matters I wish to place on the record is that this legislative response forms quite a small part of the Government’s whole comprehensive response to the New South Wales Drug Summit. Of the 172 recommendations that came out of the Summit, by far the majority are being implemented in something like 500 separate projects.

Many of the projects - whether the expansion of treatment services, the renewed emphasis on supporting families to prevent drug use or the new funding to assist communities to take action in their own area - as well as many other initiatives in education and prevention constitute a creative approach to the problem and are very important. However, relatively few of the elements in the plan of action appear in the bill; nor does the Government’s substantial financial commitment, which is approximately $176 million in new funding over four years, appear in this legislation.

Page 2063

The legislation is important, but all honourable members need to note the range of other measures that are being undertaken as a follow-up to the recommendations that came out of the Drug Summit in May. In some ways the present debate is strange. I have heard a number of speakers and I have been struck partly by the fact that the Government has not been given much credit by some honourable members who have participated in the debate. But perhaps that is not a surprise; governments do not usually receive much credit.

However, one of the interesting features of this debate is the very wide spectrum of opinion criticising the Government from a range of quite contrary points of view. For example, on the one hand the Hon. R. S. L. Jones made a fairly fiery attack saying that what the Government is doing is a waste of time and attacking the Premier and the Government for being very conservative. On the other hand, Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile attacked the Government for giving in to what he called the drug lobby, which I regard as a fairly insulting term.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile said that he represented the side which he described as "zero tolerance". I represent the side which he would describe as "harm minimisation". It is interesting that the Government is being criticised by members who hold either point of view. The Hon. I. Cohen described the bill as a "small but significant step"; I hope that that is a bit more than damning with faint praise.

It has been suggested that the Government’s proposal for the medically supervised injecting centre is limited. However, it is well known that the Opposition has agonised for weeks over its position, and its indecision came to a head yesterday in Opposition party room discussions.

On the one hand there is a wide measure of agreement about the legislation; on the other hand there is disagreement about matters not contained in it. Obviously, major discussion centred on the proposed 18-month trial of the safe injecting room at Kings Cross. The terminology has varied and the Special Minister of State paid tribute to the Hon. J. F. Ryan, who, at the Summit, persuaded us not to use the term "safe injecting room" but to adopt the term "medically supervised injecting centre".

Other people describe it as a "shooting gallery", but I will refer to it as the injecting room. I congratulate the Government on establishing this trial; it is a big step forward, even though it is only one trial of one room in one location. A year ago we would not have expected that step to be taken. Participants at the Summit discussed the options and recommended a trial, and invariably showed how people of good faith were trying to come up with positive solutions.

No-one has all the answers to the drug problem, and very few people pretend they do. I regret that a trial will not be held in more than one location. I agree that if only one area is to be used, Kings Cross is probably the most sensible location. However, other areas would be suitable if we are serious about the trial, including the North Coast and western Sydney. The public will accept the Sisters of Charity conducting the trial, but that has disadvantages. People who most need that sort of facility may feel that it is not really open for them.

I have some reservations about the decision to not allow users under 18 years to access the facility, although I understand the reasons behind that difficult decision. It is important that users under 18 years be accommodated, because they are highly at risk. Drugs do not discriminate. Kids under 18 die from drug use and I would have preferred to allow young people under 18 years to be able to access the trial.

A third matter about which I have reservations is the no-go zones for police, which I agree is a difficult area. The trial’s success depends on the police guidelines and the ability of the local police to help facilitate the safe injecting room in a way that allows it to be used while at the same time not arresting or harassing people who go there.

This was a problem with the Wayside Chapel during its brief trial. The fear of becoming a police target could stop people from using the facility and may mean that the trial is affected. I have a problem also with the ban on self-administration. The fear of arrest may lead to difficulties in making this trial successful.

Nevertheless, as I said at the Summit, we might have been a little braver, given the range of views expressed in this House and by members of the community. However, what the Government is doing is better than nothing. The trial was discussed at the Summit and in the succeeding six months. I hope that the 18-month trial will be successful and that we are able then to move on.

I express my personal pleasure that the charges against Reverend Ray Richmond from the Wayside Chapel tolerance room were withdrawn from court. It is a pleasant coincidence that that happened yesterday. Obviously the establishment of the tolerance room aroused strong feelings, but it helped
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to move the debate considerably forward in the period immediately before the Summit.

Reverend Ray Richmond and the people associated with the tolerance room should be congratulated. I will repeat a point I made in my brief speech at the Summit about a young man I knew, Matt. Earlier this year Matt was found dead with a syringe in his hand in his car at Potts Point. Matt was 23 years old and had been dead on the back seat of his car, unreported, for at least two days. At the Summit I read a letter from Matt’s mother. I will not go into the details of that letter but its major point that is relevant to this debate was the following:
    My son would be alive today if he could have used drugs in a safe controlled environment, a legalised shooting gallery, not alone in his car.

Those who are opposed to this kind of trial should think about the death of Matt and other young people who would be alive if they had been able to go to a facility like the one about to be set up. Other excellent measures in this legislative reform package include empowering courts to impose bail conditions requiring drug and alcohol assessment and rehabilitation.

I applaud that provision because it will provide opportunities to divert users into treatment programs and remove recidivist offenders from the community. The Government is to be congratulated on that provision. Similarly, the extension of the Young Offenders Act covering minor offences and the provision for warnings, cautions and youth conferences are an excellent initiative.

If these provisions help keep young offenders who have committed relatively minor drug offences out of the criminal justice system, or gaol, and assist them to face their drug problems, they will have contributed a great deal towards the aim of harm minimisation and rehabilitation and go a long way towards solving the problem rather than making it worse.

The inclusion of extra services for young people, such as extra juvenile justice drug counsellors, extra rehabilitation programs, particularly in regional New South Wales, and an increase in home detoxification facilities, is good. They help to deal positively and creatively with the drug problem rather than taking the mindless, so-called zero tolerance approach, criminalising young people after relatively minor drug offences.

I have a few doubts about some of the provisions relating to the use of sniffer dogs in juvenile justice centres but, I suppose, this sort of legislation has to contain a few things for everyone. If people are thrilled by the notion of border collies and springer spaniels playing their role in juvenile justice centres, perhaps it is important to get those people onside as well. I see the need for more reform in some areas.

I hope the House will soon have the opportunity to debate the report of the social issues committee on hepatitis C. It is one of those reports of our standing committees that has not yet come before the House. In that inquiry the committee grappled with a number of issues relating to drug reform. One of the important areas we grappled with, and in some cases were unable to agree on, was the extent of the drug problem in gaols and the extent to which that problem was exacerbated by the lack of facilities such as injecting rooms, needle exchanges, cleaner equipment for tattoos and other things discussed at length in the report.

All those things are important in dealing with the initial result of drug use and in making sure that people in prison who use drugs - as we all know they do - do not contract hepatitis C or other diseases. Without them the drug problem in our gaols, as in our community, could be multiplied and magnified by the transmission of a disease with very serious, lifelong health consequences, for which there is as yet no cure and for which the maintenance treatment for many people is very problematic.

I could give numerous other examples but the hepatitis C epidemic emphasises the point that the problems emanating from the head-in-the-sand approach to drugs, whether in gaols or elsewhere, sometimes go well beyond what people first think of, and they have long-term consequences for young people - and, indeed, older people as well. Those people have long-term health costs that have to be met by the taxpayers, the people of New South Wales. Their use of drugs has a huge impact on their families, relatives and friends and on the human services our community provides.

I would like to see the reintroduction of the legislation we attempted to introduce in the previous Parliament to decriminalise the possession of small amounts of marijuana. That legislation almost passed this House. It would be very useful to return that legislation to this House. I am very interested in the suggestion relating to the establishment of a bail house, especially for women, and about day treatment programs for users and their families, because the residential programs are certainly not always appropriate.

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Other examples could be given. No-one with any sense, in this House or outside, suggests they have the solution to the drug problem. The Government is to be congratulated on the range of steps being taken - something like 500 different projects as part of the whole response to the recommendations from the Drug Summit, in addition to the legislative response we are dealing with tonight. Finally, I turn to another issue and refer to the statistics on the use of other drugs.

We talk a great deal about heroin because of the publicity it gets and the seriousness of its effect. Nevertheless, yesterday’s Daily Telegraph dealt with the issue of drug use in the 14- to 19-year age group and the number of teenagers who have experimented. It revealed that alcohol is at the top of the list - 91.7 per cent of males and 90.7 per cent of females. Tobacco comes second with 62 per cent of males and 67 per cent of females, followed by cannabis with 45 per cent for both young men and young women.

Most honourable members are aware of the tremendous cost to our community of alcohol and tobacco, but we have made very little progress in controlling them. If only a fraction of the anger, the outcry and the outrage - whether in Parliament, the media or elsewhere - that is associated with heroin use were directed at the use of alcohol and tobacco, we would really improve our community. The other drugs in the table I referred to include LSD, ecstasy, amphetamines and so on.

Heroin is right near the bottom, with an experimentation rate of 1.1 per cent for boys and 2.3 per cent for girls - a very worrying figure - followed by cocaine with 1 per cent for boys and 2.5 per cent for girls. When taking part in the drug debate, we should always bear in mind that we are talking about one or two particular drugs used by a relatively small section of the community. To really address the health and other issues associated with drug use in New South Wales we need to look at the major drugs of alcohol and tobacco as well.

Once again, I congratulate the Government on this legislative response and on the whole package. I have made the point that I think the Government could have gone further. I recognise that the package is a compromise between differing views in the community, and I look forward to a successful trial of the injecting room and the expansion of such facilities into other areas of New South Wales where they are badly needed.

The Hon. Dr P. WONG [8.48 p.m.]: I welcome this legislation. I support the Government’s plans to create further legislative responses to the Drug Summit. The Drug Summit was a significant event, at which difficult community problems were discussed with courage and vision. Many things were to be learned from listening to expert opinions and the personal experiences of people involved in all sides of the drug debate.

As I am a general practitioner and a community worker, the issues and problems associated with the health and social impacts of drug and alcohol abuse on individuals, their families and the broader community were not new to me. I am only too aware of the negative impacts that the use of and trafficking in illicit drugs has on individuals and communities. I am closely involved in the Cabramatta community and I constantly witness the problems imposed on the whole community by the use of and trafficking in illicit drugs.

The drug problem, a complex issue, must be addressed with a multidisciplinary approach, involving the whole community, and government and non-government organisations. The Government and the community must make a commitment to resolve, or at least minimise, the harm that the drug problem causes. However, the primary point of our concerted approach must be to understand the drug problem for what it is: a community problem and a social disease.

As a community we must understand that drug addiction is not a personal choice and often it is not a pleasurable experience; therefore drug addicts should not be ostracised and marginalised from society and left to their own ailments because that is what they have chosen. Once we see their addiction and drug taking as a health problem and not merely a criminal issue that needs to be heavily sanctioned, and once we accept these people into the community and into our health system, just like everyone else, we will change the negative social image of drug addiction.

Only then can we consider that we are on a positive track to addressing the drug problem. The Drug Summit was particularly important because it highlighted the problem and to a certain extent educated a broader section of the public about the harmful negative image that society imposes on drug addiction and how that negative image can perpetuate the drug problem. The biggest contribution of this bill - it will result in the commencement of a trial project for a shooting gallery at Kings Cross - is that it addresses that negative social image.

It sends a message that the Government and the community acknowledge that there are real risks associated with drug taking, not only to the individual who is using the drugs but also to the community. We are now prepared to minimise those
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risks. This pilot project will send a message that we want to save people’s lives. I do not believe that the pilot project will send a message that drug taking is all right. It is not. We are not encouraging people to take drugs. The message that we are sending is that we care. We care for drug users, we care for their families and we care for the whole community.

I have heard concern expressed in the community about the establishment of this pilot project. I understand the points that reputable organisations such as the Salvation Army and other community groups have made, which relate to the wrong message that this project might be sending to the community and especially young people. As I said earlier, I do not believe that that is the case. This pilot project addresses one aspect of the drug abuse problem - the safety of drug taking. The education and harm minimisation strategies that are already operating must be expanded.

We need a comprehensive approach to the drug problem which will send a message to schools and to the broader community that there are real health and legal risks associated with drug abuse and trafficking. I also accept that if we overemphasise the injecting room project we will miss the boat. I am concerned about many aspects of the drug problem. During the Drug Summit I said that we should establish a drug information centre to be operated along the same lines as the Poison Information Centre, which is managed by the Children’s Hospital, so that people addicted to drugs can ring up for counselling and establish where they can go to seek help.

I was amazed when told that it would be difficult to establish such a centre as it would be too expensive and there would be too many inquiries. Somebody might ring up that centre only to discover that there was nowhere to go for help. Concern has also been expressed about the safe operation of the injecting room, the purity of drugs taken in the injecting room, and the safety and security within the room. Those are real concerns and we might not have all the answers at the moment to address those concerns.

I believe that we should have appropriate measures in place, such as medical supervision within the room, to minimise the harm caused to those who inject drugs. I am satisfied that there is a concerted effort by the Commissioner of Police and the Director-General of the Department of Health to develop guidelines for the operation and review of the practices of the injecting room. Their work will be in synergy with the work of the evaluation committee, which comprises experts in various fields, including public health, epidemiology, criminology and health economics.

I understand that there are valid concerns about the policing of the environment around the injecting room so that a honey-pot effect is prevented. Although there cannot be a guarantee that drug trafficking will be eliminated or reduced in the area, I believe that the criminal sanctions for drug trafficking, together with the enhanced police guidelines and the co-ordinated across-government review procedures, will establish the appropriate strategies to address the policing problem.

We cannot claim with perfect assurance that this pilot project will succeed. We cannot even claim that it will definitely save the lives of those who use it and that it will result in detoxification and a reduction of drug addiction. However, by establishing a pilot project with appropriate evaluation procedures and safeguards we are taking a step in the right direction and we are trying an alternative to address the drug problem. I am satisfied that a comprehensive range of services, or referrals, will be made available within the injecting room, including drug and alcohol counselling, methadone treatment, blood tests, counselling on youth support and child protection.

Those services address the wide range of problems associated with drug taking. I will encourage the Government, the management of the injecting room and the evaluation committee to expand on those services throughout the trial. I will particularly encourage the development of screening and counselling procedures within the injecting room to raise awareness of the purity of drugs, in view of the fact that the risk of drug taking is increased enormously when drugs are mixed with a number of unknown chemicals - a matter referred to by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile earlier in debate.

I was impressed with the overseas trial which led to the rehabilitation of up to 70 per cent of drug addicts. It is worthwhile for us to conduct such a trial. As a doctor, I encourage the commencement of the injecting room project. I believe that progress in any area, particularly in the areas of health and science, can be achieved through appropriately monitored and controlled trials. The importance of this trial is highlighted by overdose incidents among drug users. According to a report on the establishment or trial of safe injecting rooms, in the years 1994 to 1997, Australia had a significantly higher incidence of drug overdoses than other States. That is because half of the 2 per cent of the drug-user population is located in New South Wales.

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The report highlights the result of the study of 197 overdose deaths in New South Wales in 1992. Eighty per cent of heroin-related deaths usually occurred among a dependent population of users; 68 per cent of deaths occurred in the home environment; and 58 per cent of deaths occurred in the vicinity of other persons. Yet in only 21 per cent of cases was intervention sought or treatment administered prior to the subject’s death. These statistics highlight the significance of this trial not only in preventing deaths through providing on-site intervention and treatment but also in changing the social negative image of drug addiction.

On the issue of the evaluation committee I was glad to be briefed earlier by the Government about the people who will be appointed to sit on the panel and who will be involved in augmenting the injecting room. The Government must look carefully at those issues. I refer to a matter mentioned earlier by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile concerning an article in the Catholic Weekly. I am sorry that the Hon. P. J. Breen is not in the Chamber tonight. Both the Hon. P. J. Breen and I are Catholics. I assure honourable members that the Catholic Weekly does not represent the view of Catholics. The Hon. J. F. Ryan will agree with me that most Catholics do not read the Catholic Weekly.

The Hon. J. F. Ryan: It has been a while since I read it.

The Hon. Dr P. WONG: I am not saying that the Catholic Weekly is wrong; rather I am saying that the Catholic Church has no policy about the injecting room - at least not one that I am aware of. I say that with some authority because I conduct a choir every Sunday for one Catholic community. I am sure that the Catholic Church has said nothing about drug addiction or injecting rooms. However, I remember that Jesus Christ said clearly, "Judge not so that thou shalt not be judged and condemn not so that thou shalt not be condemned." The message of Christianity is that we should love our neighbours, care for them and forgive them. The message of Jesus Christ is that we should care for others.

The Hon. R. T. M. BULL (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [9.00 p.m.]: Many honourable members have spoken to in the debate on the Drug Summit Legislative Response Bill. All honourable members had the opportunity to attend the Drug Summit, and I presume most did. I am sure they would have received various degrees of information, changes of attitude and responses from the Summit as I did. It was worthwhile spending the week examining and properly understanding the drug problem. I will remember that week always as part of my parliamentary life.

The Drug Summit discussed real issues. The first I shall refer to is that drugs are a criminal and health issue. Many people have a perception that drugs are a criminal issue but they ignore the health problems and difficulties addicts must contend with. I had the opportunity of going to Kings Cross, as did other honourable members, to look first hand at the drug problem; to talk to those in the field who deal with this issue; to talk to the police and see the excellent work that Ingrid van Beek is doing at the Kirketon Road Centre. That visit gave me a better understanding of the drug problem and what we need to do to deal with it.

During the Summit I was somewhat attracted to the concept of safe injecting rooms. The arguments put forward were quite compelling. Certainly it was an extraordinary experience when the vote was taken as the Chamber was full of people and emotions ran high on that issue throughout the debate. I was sympathetic to the issue for this reason: people are dying in doorways and gutters, and on roads around Kings Cross and elsewhere in New South Wales because they are not getting any attention or assistance. They are self-administering drugs and are dying from overdoses.

That is a tragedy. It is not a criminal issue; it is a health and social service issue and one that we must be cognisant of during this debate. The idea of being able to take drug addicts off the streets, out of the doorways, out of the parks and into a more controlled environment where an opportunity exists to do something for them, and - I know it is a long shot - to perhaps counsel them and possibly rehabilitate them at some stage made commonsense to me.
The opportunity to do this through a safe injecting room or, as the Hon. J. F. Ryan called it, a medically supervised injecting room also made a lot of sense. The Opposition believes that this issue must be dealt with in its totality. An enormous contradiction or paradox exists about how those people will receive their drugs and where they will access them. That brings us to the criminal side of the equation. Those who wish to use the safe injecting room must acquire drugs from criminals as it is an illegal substance.

The Opposition and the National Party must come to terms with that issue in a commonsense way. I understand completely the concerns held by the police about the establishment of a safe injecting room. The Government has gone to much trouble to explain in the legislation how exemption from criminal liability applies for users of licensed injecting centres and those within its vicinity. The police will have discretion to charge people -

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Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: The police will have no discretion.

The Hon. R. T. M. BULL: I will place my interpretation on the particular clause because I am sure police will have a discretion to charge someone with a drug offence. I will read that part of the bill to the House shortly. The police are concerned that they will have difficulty determining who is illegally carrying or pushing drugs and having nothing to do with the safe injecting room, and who is on their way to the safe injecting room or in the vicinity of it with drugs for the specific purpose of administering them within the environment of the safe injecting room.

Until we overcome this contradiction between the criminality element on the one hand and saving lives and doing something for those severely hooked on drugs on the other hand, it will be difficult for us as members of Parliament, certainly those on this side of the House, to approve such a concept. A safe injecting room will produce many positives. If we can save one or two lives just by getting people off the street and giving them access -

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: There is no such thing as a safe injecting room.

The Hon. R. T. M. BULL: Well, safer. If Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile wants to compare the gutter of Kings Cross to a safe, medically supervised injecting room and say there is no difference, he has a lot of trouble in store. He attended the Drug Summit like many other members of Parliament with his mind made up. He was not prepared to listen to any of the debates or contributions of many experts from all walks of life. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile made up his mind about the drugs issue and wasted a whole week attending the Drug Summit when he could have done something more useful. I am disappointed that he in particular, coming from a religious background, cannot see the problems in trying to assist those who are addicted to drugs.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: We did. We wanted to have a detox centre to get them off drugs.

The Hon. R. T. M. BULL: The honourable member’s mind was made up from the start. I will not be distracted by the interjections because it is important that I conclude my contribution as a number of my colleagues wish to add their comments to the debate. They will add value to the debate unlike some other members of this House. I shall not speak at length about this issue but I point out that we have a responsibility to make the law work.

We must overcome this massive contradiction between criminality associated with the use of drugs and assisting people addicted to drugs. I do not know whether the Government has the numbers to secure the vote on this issue and I am not quite sure how some Independent members will vote, but if this bill is passed we will have the opportunity to examine the proposal to see how it will operate and how law enforcement agencies will deal with that contradiction. It is a major problem.

The National Party believes that the criminality side of the drug equation must be attacked with more vigour, heavier fines and greater penalties, particularly for those who push drugs. I reiterate that at the same time we must look after the other side of the equation and do everything we can for those drug addicts.

The Hon. PATRICIA FORSYTHE [9.09 p.m.]: I join with the Minister in saying, as he did in his second reading speech, that people who have become drug dependent for whatever reasons or under whatever circumstances deserve our compassion and assistance to end their drug use and resume a more healthy life. I believe that view would be shared by every member of this House and, I hope, every member of the community.

How we achieve that is of much concern both in the community and in this House. It is why we are spending so much time debating the bill. It is not easy to resolve some of those issues. I listened very closely not only to what the Government said in this debate but to all the words spoken in the Drug Summit. I went into the Drug Summit with an open mind. I have never experienced or been offered illicit drugs. I have never had to face that dilemma either during my university days or at any other stage of my life.

As a parent I feel fortunate every day of the week. My children are 20 and 18. Fortunately I have not had to face the anguish and difficult decisions that other parents have had to face when dealing with children who have problems with drugs. If I had a formula that would make all parents lucky in the way in which their children deal with their lives and their choices I could bottle it and make a lot of money.

Among my friends drugs are not an issue I have had to deal with. As I said, I went to the Drug Summit with an open mind. I saw drug users and parents who have been through the anguish of losing children. Like most honourable members who attended the Drug Summit I looked at what I thought might work and I drew conclusions. I made some decisions at that time that were reported in the media.

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But now I have to face the reality of a bill. Many of my colleagues have said to me that the Government’s proposal is not a good solution. I hope the Government gets it right. I hope that when we go down the path of setting up a medically supervised injecting centre - I understand the numbers will carry it - that it works. I hope it means that lives will be saved. But all honourable members have to accept that it is only an experiment. A select committee of this Parliament sent three of its members overseas to examine various approaches to the drug problem.

The committee drew conclusions that were not favourable to medically supervised injecting rooms. During the summit I was persuaded by many arguments. Not enough evidence has been produced either to me or the Opposition to enable us to say, as compassionate as we might want to be and as desirous of finding a solution as we are, that the bill is good enough.

The bill contains a lot of rhetoric but not a lot of reality. One month before the Drug Summit my Federal member, Dr Brendan Nelson - a medical doctor, a former president of the Australian Medical Association and someone who has given much time to this subject - gave a compelling speech to the Sydney Institute. He put some statistics on the record that, research wise, I would not be able to improve.

Dr Nelson stated that in the five months from April to September last year there had been 1,311 non-fatal overdoses in metropolitan Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast, which he determined represented about one overdose an hour. He said that in 1979 there was one heroin death every five days. Now it is every 10 hours. Every ten hours a family receives a phone call or a knock on the door to advise them that someone they love has died as a result of a heroin overdose.

Dr Brendan Nelson talked about the methadone program and drug users contracting hepatitis C. He then went on to speak about some people in his electorate, people who could be like his family or my family, who faced the reality of losing children through drug overdoses, or who live every day with the fear of receiving a phone call telling them that one of their family members has died as a result of a drug overdose. He gave fairly graphic descriptions of some of the people who have come to him.

It is my sincere hope for those families, the people we heard from in the summit, and every drug user who is facing the prospect of heroin addiction, that the bill represents a way forward. But there is not sufficient evidence for us to draw the conclusion that that will be so. If this experiment represents a compassionate approach, if it means that fewer families will face the anguish of the loss of a loved one, particularly a child, I hope it is successful.

As I said, as a parent I have been lucky not to have had to face that sort of anguish. If my children happened to end up in a gutter in Kings Cross, I would hope that someone would hold out a lifeline to them, or offer a solution. As difficult as I found this whole issue, I do not believe we have yet found the solution, but I wish the experiment well. At the end of the day I hope an honest evaluation is delivered, not one simply to fulfil an agenda.

If lives are being saved I will be the first to stand up and say that I got it wrong. I turn to the use of sniffer dogs in juvenile justice centres. The bill is not needed because sniffer dogs have already been used in the juvenile justice system. In the estimates committee hearing I asked how many times sniffer dogs had been brought into Kariong, the maximum security centre. The answer available today is that they have been brought in once in the past 18 months.

The rhetoric is wrong because the families of some of the boys at Kariong or, indeed, some of the staff say that all the detainees and staff - drug issues are not restricted to detainees - were given 30 minutes warning before the dogs arrived. Honourable members can reasonably assume that they did not find much. If the Government is serious about the drug problem it had better reconsider some of the current practices.

I suggest that the Government read the estimates committee evidence about sniffer dogs, particularly the words of Mr Buttrum, Director-General of the Department of Juvenile Justice. This Government said it is interested in new programs, helping young people and getting young people into counselling. That is fine, but which young people, and who will make that determination? The director-general made it quite clear in the estimates committee hearing that more than anything else they just want to get rid of drugs. He said:
    Mind you, we try to avoid it, because of the obvious problems [that is the use of dogs]. But if they are going to stop drugs being brought into centres or help us to detect drugs we will use them. I might add that we have introduced things like a dump bucket at all of our detention centres. We say to the kids, ‘if you have anything on you when you come back from leave or if anything has been brought in, you can put it in the dump bucket and that is the end of it.’

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I said, "No questions asked?" and he said, "No questions asked." How are we to deal with young people who have drug problems if the director-general is only interested in getting rid of the evidence, no questions asked. It is about time the department becomes serious about drugs. This bill is not needed to enable the use of sniffer dogs. Sniffer dogs are already available and evidence of that is on the record because of questions asked by Ms Lee Rhiannon and me in the estimates committee hearing. We have heard a lot of rhetoric from the Government on that.

The Government is on the right track in cautioning juveniles. However, it should better inform the community on the cautioning system because many people believe that a caution simply amounts to a slap on the wrist and that is the end of the matter. It should be made clear that cautioning under the Young Offenders Act requires that a letter be written to the juvenile, that a response be received within 10 days, and that the juvenile admit the offence and attend with adults, in most cases the parents. That formal system is set out in legislation.

The sooner the Government publicises that information, the sooner will cautions act as true deterrents. I genuinely believe that a brush with the law, be it a caution or the use of the conferencing system, is sufficient to stop the activities of many young people.

Last year Don Weatherburn said that the statistics show that most young people do not believe they will be apprehended. They must understand that their actions are viewed seriously and that the cautioning system is part of a broader approach. If the Government uses that rhetoric, it will have greater support. I wish the Government well. The Government has not approached the prevention strategies talked about in the Drug Summit. I recall the academic from the University of Newcastle who spoke about early prevention. The bill is a half-baked solution. The Opposition does not believe it is a good enough and therefore cannot support the bill.

The Hon. A. G. CORBETT [9.22 p.m.]: I welcome the Government’s legislative response to the Drug Summit. It is vital that we investigate new methods of supporting people who use drugs, especially those who inject drugs, a particularly dangerous practice. Recently members of the crossbench met with a number of parents whose lives have been tragically affected by drugs. They told stories of their children’s struggle against addiction, and some of them spoke of the grief they felt when their children died from an overdose. It was a very moving experience and I thank them for being so brave and committed to advocating law reform in an attempt to prevent other parents from experiencing the same loss.

Those parents told me that they hate drugs and what drugs have done to their families. The last thing they want is for drug use to become more common. They are bravely continuing to advocate a tolerant approach to the drugs issue even though drugs have taken such a terrible toll on their families. They said that if safe injecting facilities had been available for their children, some of their children might be alive today. It is only right that the Government takes the positive step of trialling a medically supervised injecting room. I must emphasise that it is only a trial and will not go any further unless the evaluation of the trial is positive.

This is why the official evaluation is so important. Evaluation must be structured to provide the best possible chance for the trial being judged in an objective manner. I was pleased to hear the Minister’s assurances in the second reading speech that the evaluation committee will be comprised of experts in public health, epidemiology, criminology, health economics, psychiatry and research methodology.

Today other members of the crossbench and I met with the convener of the evaluation committee, Dr Andrew Wilson. He listed key areas on which the evaluation of the medically supervised injecting room will focus. It will evaluate the effect on public health, including the incidence of hepatitis C infections, the effect on the rehabilitation process, any changes to the pattern of drug dealing in the local area, the impact on the community and its perception of drug use and, finally, the cost effectiveness of the trial.

I am pleased with the thoroughness of Dr Wilson and the evaluation committee in approaching their task. I am told that the evaluation will be objective and truly independent. It would also be beneficial for the trial if an interim evaluation report could be produced before the end of the trial. The evaluation committee is planning to release progress reports on some criteria every six months. This will enable the Government to make an early assessment of the likely success or failure of the trial and, should the interim evaluation be positive, allow the Government sufficient time to plan for the establishment of a permanent medically supervised injecting room.

I also have concerns about schedule 3.3 to the bill in relation to the Young Offenders Act 1997
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which introduces the option of issuing young people with a formal caution or warning as an alternative to a harsher penalty. I support this move as it will give young people a chance to address their drug problems before they become closely involved in the criminal justice system. However, the bill will not treat young people under the Young Offenders Act who are found with "more than a small quantity" of a prohibited drug. It would be preferable if the clause could be changed to "a traffickable quantity" under schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985.

That would enable young people found with quantities of prohibited drugs - up to a traffickable quantity, for example, of three grams of heroin - to have access to the provisions of the Young Offenders Act. Such a change would enhance the harm minimisation characteristics of the bill. I understand that the Government is concerned that drug dealers may engage young people to sell drugs on their behalf, knowing that they may receive a lighter sentence. I also acknowledge that the Government is committed to sending a strong message to the community that drugs are harmful.

However, the limitation of the wording of the section to "a small quantity" will only penalise young people who are already being exploited. Many young people who leave home and who are drawn to the Darlinghurst area have few resources and are vulnerable to exploitation by adults. A person under the age of 18 years selling drugs below a traffickable quantity would most likely be involved in such illegal activity because they were desperate to support their drug habit and had no other means of earning an income. Harsher penalties for these young people will not deter drug dealers from finding other vulnerable young people to take their place. The amendment to the Young Offenders Act 1997 is positive but does not go far enough and may result in young victims being penalised rather than the drug dealers who exploit them.

Should the bill be approved by the Parliament I hope that the media does not become overly intrusive in the operation of the medically supervised injecting room. This issue is easily sensationalised and irresponsible reporting by the media may prejudice the operation of the trial. Also, I hope that members of the media show respect for people seeking access to the medically supervised injecting room and do not interfere with them.

I call on the Government to provide a full briefing on the operations of the medically supervised injecting room and of the evaluation procedure. That will enable the media to obtain information needed to report the progress of the medically supervised injecting room trial and to make a fair assessment of its effects. I am pleased that the Government has taken this initiative. I will support the amendments proposed by some crossbench members and I urge the Government to give them careful consideration. They should be supported in the interests of saving the lives of often young and vulnerable people dealing with drug abuse.

The Hon. J. F. RYAN [9.28 p.m.]: My party does not support the bill. I respect that position, but I respectfully say that I disagree. As honourable members are aware, I was not an immediate supporter of injecting rooms. Prior to the Drug Summit I was totally opposed to them because I believed that they would lead more young people into drug abuse and that they would fail to do anything of any use in combating the rising tide of drug abuse. However, during the Drug Summit I was assigned to visit Kings Cross, where I was briefed by Kings Cross police and staff from the Kirketon Road drug and alcohol centre. I believe that when I visited the Kings Cross area the facts spoke for themselves.

Last Monday morning, just to make sure that I was not mistaken, I went back on a visit to the same areas of Kings Cross. I am grateful that the Minister for Police allowed me to have a private interview with Local Area Commander Superintendent Bob Mayatt at the Kings Cross police station. I had another opportunity to walk up and down the same area and deeply consider my views before my political party discussed the matter, just to make sure that things were no different from the way in which I had seen them, because it was what I saw in Kings Cross that had such a dramatic impact on me and made me change my mind.

I walked up and down Roslyn Street and a place that is known as Springfield Mall which is pretty much the epicentre of the drug trade in Kings Cross. To appreciate why I changed my mind, honourable members would need to understand that Kings Cross is a human sink. It is a six square kilometre human zoo as far as the drug trade is concerned. While I walked around in my suit on Monday morning, I saw two or three young drug dealers who were virtually on patrol at Springfield Mall.

I was walking up and down the street, and was nearly choked by the pungent smell of marijuana smoke, when I realised that just a couple of metres ahead of me was the cafe that has now been made famous by the Sunday Telegraph, the Amsterdam
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Cafe. I also saw two young people in stairwells in close proximity to the street. They were shooting up as plain as day. The drug trade does not get more open than that. All that I have described was taking place within a couple of metres of the Kings Cross police station.

I decided to take a vox pop of the attitudes of people who operate businesses in the vicinity, largely because my political party proudly considers itself to be the political organisation that represents small business and because I am particularly interested to find out what the views of small business people are. I guess they found it unusual for a politician to be introducing himself and asking to speak to them. I did not tell them my view of the matter. I simply wanted them to give me their unvarnished views. One of the things I discovered when I had embarked on this exercise was that even the Kings Cross business community is a fairly bohemian mixture.

I had difficulty in finding a few examples of what would normally be described as mainstream small business operators. I thought that most people would not find the tattooist, the strip club operator or the erotic book sellers to be representative of the mainstream small business view. I managed to find a newsagent, a fruit seller, a tobacconist, a boot repairer, a chemist and an optometrist. Interestingly enough, I discovered quite by accident that the optometrist is the immediate past president of the Kings Cross Chamber of Commerce.

Some honourable members may be surprised to learn that, having asked them their views, I found that only one business person was totally opposed to the injecting room of the type proposed by the bill. Many of the others had views that I am sure honourable members of this House would find fascinating, ranging from either full support to reluctant but nevertheless strong acceptance.

The only issue of controversy among them was where the centre would be located. As honourable members can imagine, some people may worry about what might happen to their business and I can understand that concern. Nevertheless, one of the small business operators said to me that one of the problems with the centre is that it will operate only from 4 o’clock in the afternoon until 11 o’clock at night. That person wanted the centre to operate for a longer period because it was felt that if the centre does the proper job that all people hope it will do, it would need to operate in the wee small hours of the morning and during the day. As I saw for myself, shooting up is something that certainly does occur outside the period between 4 o’clock in the afternoon and 11 o’clock at night.

Another person quite bluntly told me that he wished the centre would not only provide for injecting but also for the sale of heroin because he wanted to remove the entire drug trade from the street. I say that not because I support the sale of heroin. I simply report to the House that this is the view expressed by people who live in close proximity to the area. Some of them have an even more radical view than the legislation represents.

What I am trying to communicate to the House is that many people who are not drug users in Kings Cross are so desperate about the problem in which they find themselves, they are more than prepared to try something new to counter the drug menace. In speaking to them and appreciating their position, I came to understand why the provisions of this legislation might help. I do not say that it will help. I simply make the point that we do not have the information, despite what has occurred overseas, to try what might be envisaged by the legislation.

I believe that the bill is very distinctly different from many of the injecting centres that were visited by the committee of this Parliament that travelled overseas. But the particularly distinctive feature will be the tradition of the Sisters of Charity and the fact that the protocols for this injecting centre will be regulated. One of my concerns, which I share with many other people, is that the injecting room will turn the area in which it is located into some type of a honey pot.

During this debate it has been said many times that the very existence of the injecting room will turn Kings Cross into a honey pot. There is no way that an injecting room could make Kings Cross any worse than it is. It is already a honey pot; the honey pot is Kings Cross. Any person who wishes to obtain drugs knows that he or she only needs to do what I did yesterday, namely, visit Springfield Mall, hang around for 10 minutes in one spot and wait for someone who will make an approach to supply the drugs. In my view, the injecting room constitutes no extra dimension to the supply of drugs. I remind honourable members that the bill does not make the supply of drugs legal.

In common with many honourable members, I have a special concern for any young person who may be tempted to use drugs for the first time. I consider no level of risk acceptable in this regard. However, after some deep thought, I came to the conclusion that although it might be theoretically possible that an injecting room might weaken the resolve of a young person and non-drug user, in practical and real terms it would pose no such threat. In the first place, very few people begin their drug use by making an individual and spontaneous decision to start using drugs.

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Most drug users are led to the habit by somebody they know, at a time when they are vulnerable, in a private setting, where the drugs have already been obtained. I believe that an injecting room at Kings Cross will have no impact on that situation. The facts are that drug sellers rarely recruit strangers in the street because it increases the seller’s chances of being caught.

Let us imagine the remote circumstances in which an individual - a heroin user - would go to a place such as Kings Cross alone, obtain drugs and then take them to the injecting room. That person’s inexperience will be easily detected by the trained staff who operate the room because it would be readily apparent by his or her lack of knowledge or confidence, and a short examination of his or her arm would tell anyone that person is new to the drug business. I am sure that responsible staff, operating according to the tradition of the Sisters of Charity, will do all they can to prevent the individual from going any further.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: They can’t stop them.

The Hon. J. F. RYAN: That is a lie. They can stop them. They can stop them by saying to them, as I am sure they would, "Do you really want to do this?" I cannot believe that any trained health professional would see a new person walk into a centre like this for the first time and not say that. I am completely convinced that while that might happen in an injecting centre, it has absolutely no chance of happening if the young person had obtained the drugs, which he or she already would have done. The young person would go down to Roslyn Street, as young people do now, and shoot those drugs up his or her arm in public without any health professional offering them any chance of changing their mind. I would rather have that young person confront the circumstances of a health professional encouraging them to do otherwise.

It may not work, but at least it gives users a last chance. In areas like Kings Cross traditional zero policing is not enough; it is good and I have no doubt that the Kings Cross police do their very best. I discovered that from speaking with Superintendent Mayatt. The Kings Cross patrol area comprises six square kilometres and it is patrolled by 130 police. Earlier this year another 89 detectives were drawn from across Sydney to mount operations Elan and Poido. In late June police arrested 13 major drug suppliers and captured three guns, $250,000 of heroin and cannabis and more than $300,000 in cash.

I also observed, as I am sure Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile would remember, police regularly using video surveillance from the first storeys of buildings located above Roslyn Street and Springfield Mall. Police use technology, surveillance and their best knowledge of the law, but when they make drug arrests, the trade is interrupted for less than an hour. I want police to continue their work.

I support police having resources and doing patrols, I support police putting drug dealers out of business. But no matter how good their efforts are, nothing short of paramilitary occupation of Kings Cross will remove the drug trade. It is almost as if it oozes from the concrete buildings and captures people. I am convinced that despite the best efforts of the police they will not achieve the objective we would all want. The police are doing their best, but it is obvious to anyone who walks through Roslyn Street even half asleep that drugs are still sold and used extensively in Kings Cross, in public, by young people and others.

Commander Bob Myatt also told me that until March more than 50 heroin deaths had been recorded in the Kings Cross patrol. Half of those deaths occurred in streets or abandoned buildings. I accept that people who take drugs ought to take some responsibility for their actions, but as a member of Parliament I have a responsibility to counter that problem if I possibly can. That is what this bill is about.

I know that honourable members are concerned about the public acceptance of this legislation and whether it will translate into political acceptance. Political approval ought not be a major motivator in deciding policy but I accept that the reality of politics is that it is a consideration. I challenge, with evidence rather than rhetoric, the proposition that many gains are to be made from trying something new rather than opposing this measure with predictable cliches and a heavy measure of political aggression.

People are concerned about community support for this legislation. It may interest members to know that Steve Bracks, who was recently appointed Premier of Victoria, had a policy whose public acceptance, it might have been thought, would have stopped him winning seats in country areas. His policy included a trial of legal heroin in not one but five injecting rooms.

The Hon. D. J. Gay: He didn’t win country seats on that. Don’t be stupid.

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The Hon. J. F. RYAN: My colleague the Hon. D. J. Gay, whom I respect, has interjected that that policy did not help Steve Bracks win the election. I did not suggest it did but one would have thought that, given how some people talk about this matter, the policy would have caused him to lose the election. If his policy had no level of public acceptability, Steve Bracks would not be Premier of Victoria.

The proposed trial is not a blind rush to decriminalise heroin; it is a trial on a very tight legal leash. The trial is limited to 18 months and cannot extend beyond that without the approval of Parliament. The trial is a licence to operate one room; any other room would be illegal. In one regard that makes the law clearer than it now is, because now it is not illegal to operate an injecting room.

It is illegal for people to use drugs, it is illegal to assist a person to use drugs, but it is not illegal to operate an injecting room. The only law that comes close to making the operating of an injecting room illegal is the Disorderly Houses Act. To some extent the law is clarified by this legislation, because only a licensed room can operate, and there will be only one licence.

Yesterday I heard that an injecting room may be operating informally within the Wayside Chapel. This bill will make that room illegal. The various operating protocols will also be a matter of law, not discretion; and they will be set by regulations that are disallowable by this House. The injecting room must be run by medical practitioners and staffed by appropriately qualified health professionals. It will be subject to the oversight of not only the Director-General of the Department of Health but also the Commissioner of Police.

The entry into the injecting room of young people under the age of 18 years will be strictly controlled and absolutely prohibited. Yesterday I confirmed in my discussion with Superintendent Myatt that police will have absolute discretion to charge anyone trafficking in drugs, right up to the front door of the facility.

The Hon. Elaine Nile: The bill states that they can.

The Hon. J. F. RYAN: The bill does not state that; again that is a wicked lie. The bill does not prevent police from exercising discretion for people selling drugs. That is absolutely untrue. The bill allows a level of police discretion for officers who accept that a person is on his or her way to the injecting room. One other furphy regularly raised in this debate is that somehow - because the bill allows people to use the defence that they are travelling to the injecting room - people in Cabramatta, Campbelltown or Lismore could claim that they were on their way to the injecting room at Kings Cross.

They may claim to possess an amount of drugs for their personal use and therefore the police will not be able to arrest them. Yesterday Commander Bob Myatt told me that police will exercise their discretion - and this will be made clear by the Minister - whether to charge a person in reasonable proximity of the injecting room. The police commander intends to have intelligence which allows him to ensure that the area is a no-go zone. Dr Ingrid van Beek, who supports that idea and operates the Kirketon Road Centre, told me that the operators of the room want police to move drug trafficking from the room.

Dr van Beek said that there would be nothing more counterproductive to the centre’s success than to have users enter the room, inject, receive a level of counselling and support, and walk out straight into the hands of a drug dealer. I have some areas of concern which I ask the Minister to consider.

The Hon. D. J. Gay: Are you voting for or against this legislation?

The Hon. J. F. RYAN: I am speaking for the bill, as the Hon. D. J. Gay well knows. I will explain how I am voting later. I respect his view but I wish my colleagues would cut me some slack and allow me to express my point of view.

The Hon. D. J. Gay: We have a different point of view.

The Hon. J. F. RYAN: I accept that and I respect it. I ask the Minister to clarify the meaning of "travelling to and from" and the exact level of police discretion; that is something of genuine concern to people who support this measure. One other area of concern which the Opposition has raised, and which I totally support, is if people enter the room and ask for drug rehabilitation counselling but none is available.

At the Drug Summit we heard that waiting times for drug treatment can be extensive. Participants at the Drug Summit talked about the golden moment when someone makes a decision to give up drugs and tries to shake the demon of drug addiction. It is imperative that they be put immediately in touch with resources that will help
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them. I sincerely hope that the people who operate the injecting room will have resources available to them to allow them to rescue people, and to rescue them quickly.

Earlier I referred to hours of operation. I asked the Government, if possible, to extend the resources. That seems to me to be sensible. I have not been briefed on who is on the evaluation committee, but as much as I might respect Dr Alex Wodak, he has taken a number of hits in this debate. He is a person of scientific credibility but he is regarded as someone who has a specific agenda and, if the community is to have confidence, the evaluation committee must comprise people who have not already participated in the debate in such a way that locks them in to a particular point of view and makes people doubt their independence.

I personally support this bill because I am motivated by a strong sense of compassion, which I am sure extends across the House; I do not claim a monopoly on compassion. I accept that people who take drugs have made a foolish life decision. They are breaking the law, and the few drug addicts I have known are not, in the main, pleasant people to know. Often they are selfish and self-seeking.

However, I do not think any of us would expect them to pay for these misdeeds with their lives if it is possible to avoid that. There is no doubt that many in Kings Cross do pay for this misjudgment with their lives - on average, one a week. It is not time to give up the war against drugs but it is appropriate to show mercy.

As a committed Christian I believe it is about more than physical death. I believe no more catastrophic event can happen to any person than to die outside a state of grace, and a drug addict is highly unlikely to die in a state of grace, however one defines it - whether it is simply with human dignity or with God’s acceptance. If they have more time, things may change. I also add my admiration to the Sisters of Charity, who have agreed to endorse and support this operation.

Earlier in the debate it was suggested that the nuns were running away from the debate. The nuns are not prepared to give press conferences; nuns do not do that. Nevertheless, they had to endorse their part in this trial. Religious, trained nuns, who have made a vow to God and formed a committee of the conference of the Sisters of Charity, had to endorse this proposal before it could take place.

The Hon. Elaine Nile: Pope John Paul said the opposite.

The Hon. J. F. RYAN: Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile read a letter from the Vatican. All that letter proved is that it is a Christian tradition and truth that using drugs is sinful. This bill is not endorsing the use of drugs; it is about rescuing the dying. The God that I understand says that the use of drugs is wrong and totally sinful. Nevertheless, I believe Jesus Christ died for drug users too and wants them rescued.

If I have been unable to move the House with what I have said, can I refer to a greater mind than mine. I can do no better than quote some words I have thought about greatly over the past couple of days. They are from William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, when Portia argues for mercy. I am sure all honourable members will recognise these words:
    The quality of mercy is not strain’d;
    It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
    Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d;
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
    ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
    The throned monarch better than his crown;

I move on:
    It is an attribute to God himself,
    And earthly power doth show likest God’s
    When mercy seasons justice. Therefore . . .
    Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
    That in the course of justice none of us
    Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy,
    And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
    The deeds of mercy.

Our Lord said it no better when He said:
    Forgive them their trespasses as we forgive them who trespass against us.

I do not endorse drug taking. However, I see this as an exercise to rescue the dying. That is what it is about.

The Hon. Elaine Nile: Give them detoxification.

The Hon. J. F. RYAN: I do not disagree, but one does not "give" addicts detoxification; they have to want to give up. Honourable members know that making that decision is hard. All of us at some time, I believe, have been captured by an obsession and all of us know how hard it is to give it up, and the demon of drug abuse is so much harder.

From time to time I can be convinced that Bob Carr stands for nothing. However, I genuinely believe he comes to this issue with clean hands and a sincere heart, given that drug abuse and a drug
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death has touched him and his family. I am trying to show, if I can, that there is decency in politics, that there is a capacity to reach across the table and work together in a bipartisan spirit. I hope I have demonstrated that that is possible.

Finally I come to the question of how I will vote. I have thought about this for weeks. I sincerely hope no-one in this Chamber will care to torture me about the decision I have made, but I accept that in the cut and thrust of politics that is legitimate. I have three options: I can abstain, I can cross the floor or I can vote with my party.

I believe I should never abstain from a vote in this House. I believe that is an abrogation of my responsibility as a member of Parliament. I was elected by the people of New South Wales to make decisions, and I have to make a decision on this issue. I then have the two options of crossing the floor or voting with my party. I believe this to be a very important moral issue and it touches the heart of my personal Christian faith - which I do not push on anyone else but which is obviously a part of me.

I also have to grapple with how I came to this House. I did not come to this House because the people of New South Wales knew this bloke called John Ryan who lives at 35 Plane Tree Drive, Narellan Vale. I was elected to this House because people ticked the Liberal Party box on the ballot paper, not knowing really who had been endorsed. I was endorsed by members of the Liberal Party and supported by Liberal voters. I am very grateful to the people for trusting me with that privilege.

I am cognisant of the fact that I have a moral decision but a great responsibility. On this occasion, even though I accept that my party disagrees with me, I have argued passionately to change the minds of members of my party. I am disappointed that I have not been successful.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: The party is correct.

The Hon. J. F. RYAN: I really wish Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile would not interject in that fashion. I may be wrong, and my party may be wrong, but I am prepared to consider that in human frailty there are invariably different points of view. I respect both; I have held both.

However, I have decided to vote with my party on this occasion because my party went about making this decision in the right way. It is overwhelmingly the decision of my party; it was not a small minority. The Hon. J. H. Jobling will speak later in the debate, and just as passionately will contradict everything I have said. He went overseas using money from his own pocket to study this problem, and the Liberal Party is full of people who have approached this issue with the same level of earnestness that I have.

I do not believe I have a monopoly on the truth. I have a great deal of confidence, being a member of a political party, in the collegiate attempt to come to a conclusion and have my opinion tested in the crucible of debate against others. I respect the outcome of that decision more than making it on my own. One of the great strengths of the Liberal Party is that I am allowed to cross the floor without offending my colleagues or without in any way risking my continued membership. However, it is a privilege we exercise with great responsibility and great care.

I will vote with my party, but I extend to the Government my best wishes for the success of this bill. I do not know whether it will provide all the answers. I hope it will rescue the dying. I hope the best professionals and the best people who can be mustered together use it. If the trial is a success I am sure there will be bipartisan support to move further. It is possible that the trial may not be a success, but in an imperfect world dealing with imperfect men and women, it is sometimes necessary to come up with solutions that we see as less than perfect. I commend the bill for consideration by members of the House. I appreciate what has been said by all honourable members and I respect their views.

Ms LEE RHIANNON [9.10 p.m.]: I welcome the opportunity to speak on this most important issue. The drug problem is certainly a very moving issue. I hope I am able to convey clearly my feelings and viewpoint and those of my party. I congratulate the Hon. J. F. Ryan on his speech. Although there were a number of points with which I disagreed I found it a most welcome speech in this place - one that was based on considerable principle. The Greens will move amendments to the Drug Summit Legislative Response Bill.

We welcome the Government’s commitment to a harm minimisation approach to drug taking. Crossbenchers in this place probably have many opportunities that are not available to members of the Opposition and the Government. We regularly meet with members of a number of organisations who convey to us their beliefs and their principles about the various issues that arise in this House.

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Recently we met with the families and friends of people who have died from drug overdoses. The event was organised by Mr Tony Trimingham. I appreciated the insights he provided us on that day. Mothers, fathers, wives, and former users spoke to us most movingly about their lives. They spoke to us about people who had died - people who should be alive today. A major reason that those people are in such grief and that so many lives have been lost is our failure as a society to treat the use of drugs as a health and social issue.

Some of the people with whom we met were members of the Family Drug Support Group. They spoke to us about their work. Although this matter is not dealt with in this legislation, at the moment they need $240,000 to continue with their phone support line. They have 90 volunteers working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide urgent support - support that certainly saves lives. It would be money well spent.

Criminalising drug users is what is killing people. There is an urgent need to change legislation covering drug use. Unfortunately, the Greens believe that this bill goes only a small way towards achieving what is required. The Greens have a number of concerns about the bill and we will move some amendments and support other progressive amendments by other crossbench members.

We will move these amendments because of the widespread recognition in the community that our society must act. We must save lives and work with drug users rather than victimise and criminalise them. When the Government announced its intention to hold a Drug Summit the Greens hoped that the facts regarding drug use would move the Government to take decisive action. We had concerns about the division of professional and community representatives into 11 separate and artificially defined working groups, but we still hoped that the Government would work to change the laws relating to drug taking.

The urgency of this matter was highlighted earlier this year by a courageous group of people who provided a safe place for drug users. To its credit, the Wayside Chapel opened its doors to drug users, and offered a safe and supervised injecting room. We must congratulate people such as Reverend Ray Richmond and the many people he worked with for the courageous stance they took and how they helped to inform society of the urgent need for safe injecting rooms.

The action of the Wayside Chapel made us aware of the need to act immediately to save lives. The trial of one safe injecting room signals modest progress, but it is woefully inadequate in the face of the magnitude of unsafe injecting in New South Wales. The New South Wales Users and AIDS Association summed up the problem concerning the Government’s approach. A recent document by that association states:
    The establishment of only one medical safe injecting centre is the narrowest possible approach.
    We believe that in order to enhance the capacity to evaluate the efficacy of the trial, a multi site approach would be preferable. This would provide a large quantitative pool by which to demonstrate effectiveness in the reduction of overdoses and enable tracking pathways to treatment.

But the trial of only one injecting room is what is proposed by the Government. We have heard many government people say off the record that this is all they can do. They say that they support more but they argue that the community is not with the Government on this. We certainly agree that we need to move forward with the community, but there is clearly a wider understanding of this issue and many people believe there is an urgent need to act.

The Government must give a lead but, unfortunately, at the moment its response is limited. In fact, the Government is in a conservative mode. At times we see it try to adopt both a progressive and a conservative stance to cover its back for elections. Unfortunately, on this issue, it is not moving as far as it could.

The Hon. M. R. Egan: Why do you assume everything is done for election purposes? Can’t you contemplate that somebody might have a different viewpoint from your own?

Ms LEE RHIANNON: Yes we do, and that is why we are debating this issue. But so many of the Government’s motives are directed towards retaining power. The Government often claims that its approach is based on solid evidence that seeks to minimise harm and provide facilities to encourage rehabilitation. Yet the proposed amendment to the Bail Act works against the overwhelming weight of evidence that the treatment services forced on addicts have low levels of success. The proposed amendment to the Bail Act may seem to provide positive measures to divert minor drug offenders away from the prison system. However, an examination of the proposal exposes a flawed and coercive approach.

The Government is seeking to provide for compulsory drug treatment - a strategy that is largely thought will be unsuccessful in solving an
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individual’s drug addiction. The most important point we must consider is that this amendment by the Government does not target offenders; it deals with those on bail who have been charged but who have not yet been found guilty of any offence. Many will eventually be found not guilty.

The Government is seeking to force people who may have committed no crime - who are guilty of no offence - into drug rehabilitation schemes as a condition of their bail. It is mystifying to the Greens that the Government is seeking to force unwilling people to undergo drug rehabilitation which is likely to fail, while many drug addicts are unable to gain places in voluntary schemes.

A defendant may find a program religiously, culturally or personally inappropriate. He or she may simply not be ready to give up drugs. There will be a high drop-out level in this coercive environment that will lead to a breach of bail conditions and a further deterioration in the defendant’s situation. A record for having breached bail conditions will make it more difficult should a defendant have to apply for bail in the future. So a defendant who is forced into a program and then drops out will be in breach of bail conditions and may well end up in prison.

We know that in prison very few people give up drugs. They are likely to be exposed to a most degrading life and a great possibility of rape and abuse. Close to 20 per cent of imprisoned injecting drug users first started shooting up in gaol. How does this scenario minimise harm or improve the situation of drug users - something we are still waiting to hear about from the Government?

We are also concerned that the additional bail condition of forcing a person into drug rehabilitation may prejudice his or her case, especially if the charges relate to a drug matter. Moreover, the supposed voluntary nature of the Government’s proposal is voluntary only in name. A defendant coming before a magistrate may well be given the voluntary offer to enter into drug rehabilitation. The defendant has the choice of rejecting the offer and possibly having the bail application rejected by the magistrate.

The defendant, not guilty of any offence, is forced to consider rejecting the voluntary offer while the magistrate considers the bail offer, hardly a situation of free and open choice. This court scenario is no environment in which to determine the drug rehabilitation needs of an individual. The power relationship between the defendant and the magistrate is so unequal as to force the defendant to accept what may be described as a voluntary offer to enter drug rehabilitation.

If the Government is serious about drug rehabilitation, sufficient services should be available for people to avail themselves of voluntarily, rather than imposing coercive orders on a drug user. To rectify this problem the Greens will move an amendment in Committee to delete schedule 3 to the bill. The Greens will seek also to amend the internal management protocols for the safe injecting room. We believe that access to referral services for emergency housing and shelter is an important provision.

People who use the injecting centre may require accommodation services and the centre, as a matter of course, should be able to refer people to appropriate places. We strongly oppose plans to allow police to use sniffer dogs in juvenile detention centres in the same way they are used in adult prisons. In the adult prison system drug sniffer dogs are used in cell searches and to search gaol visitors. We understand it is a distressing experience, especially for young and elderly visitors, to be searched by large dogs.

The Greens urge the Government to ensure the establishment of a protocol to allow only smaller dogs to be used for searches in juvenile detention centres. Searches of visitors by large dogs could act as an impediment to those who wish to visit young people in detention centres. The Greens believe it is vital to the rehabilitation prospects of imprisoned young people that they maintain supportive contact with families and relatives with minimal impediment.

The Greens are concerned that the Government seeks to impose the use of sniffer dogs and urinalysis without any evaluation of the success or otherwise of these strategies. A full evaluation of the impact of these strategies on drug use in gaol and the impact on prison visitors should be undertaken before these approaches are extended to juvenile detention centres. We believe that they are reasonable suggestions and hope they will be adopted. I urge my colleagues to examine the Greens proposals carefully as they will help to ensure this legislation works for all members of our community.

The Treasurer might like to comment on the minimalist approach taken by the Government in respect of handling drug reform, especially considering his interjections during the debate. This approach is evident from comments by the Drug Users Association that it had wanted to discuss some problems but was limited to discussing only one problem. This State has a minimalist approach also to industrial relations.

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The Government is in its first year of a four-year term. One would expect that in this period the Government would bring forward those aspects of its legislative program that may be controversial so that it has time to work through them with the community and get approval for the important issues on which it was elected. The crossbench members could help to usher the Government through a progressive agenda on drug reform and industrial relations legislation, such as entitlements and wage equity, but the Government is not taking the lead.

The Government cannot argue that it does not have a sufficient majority in this House to enact improved industrial relation laws. Nor can it argue that it does not have sufficient community support for industrial relations or drug law reform. But the Government is not acting. It is interesting to ponder how far to the right this Government has moved. It certainly helps to provide an answer as to why the Coalition is having its problems: the Government is occupying its traditional territory!

The bill is a modest start and we are pleased that it is before the House. We urge members to pass it with the Greens amendment and the other progressive amendments from other crossbench members. This legislation will work to save lives and will go some way to enable all drug users to live with dignity rather than face harassment due to inappropriate laws.

The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN [10.14 p.m.]: The object of the Drug Summit Legislative Response Bill is to amend the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 to allow the licensing and use of a single medically supervised injection centre for the self-administration of prohibited drugs for a trial period of 18 months, and to make other amendments that will allow the trial of the shooting gallery to proceed within the bounds of the law. The idea for the bill originated during the heat of an election campaign when a Sydney newspaper printed a photograph of a teenage boy injecting drugs into his veins in a laneway in Redfern.

The Premier expressed mock shock at what was hardly a revelation to anybody who is in tune with the real world. Nevertheless, the Premier’s election tactic of calling for a bipartisan summit to develop the concerted response to the drug problem was taken up by the Opposition. However, like everything this clayton’s Government does, it turned out to be a stacked deck designed to achieve outcomes that had already been worked out; outcomes that catered to the left wingers in the party and the extreme left wingers who kowtow to them - some of whom occupy seats in this Chamber.
That is a pity because some excellent contributions were made to the debate, which I emphasise was long overdue. Where was Father Chris Riley from Youth Off the Streets and where was Ron Barr from Youth Insearch? Father Chris and Ron work daily with the sad outcomes of the drug problem. Whilst they may not be versed in all the theories of human nature and might not be as well qualified as many experts who were invited to the Drug Summit, they have a grassroots feel for the problems and have strong views on some of the solutions we should seek.

I can assume only that their absence probably related to the fact that they had been checked out and found to be supporters of a zero tolerance approach to the drugs issue. This became evident as I listened to the debate and the constant mantra of harm minimisation. Whenever anybody had the courage to offer a contrary view, they were ridiculed. I felt ashamed at the reception given to Major Brian Watters from the Salvation Army for daring to suggest that zero tolerance to drugs in our society was his preferred approach given the experience of frontline people from the Salvation Army who deal with this insidious problem every day and night of the week.

Notwithstanding this intolerance by a large group of people preaching tolerance, the Summit brought people together and produced a better understanding of opposing views. The object of the bill, which is to allow a shooting gallery to operate with some legal protection on a trial basis, may satisfy the pro-drug lobby in our society but it will have absolutely zero impact on the problem. We do not need a trial to prove this. We need a whole-of-government approach that is based, firstly, on deterring people from experimenting in the first place, which is a social educational challenge; secondly, deterring people from dealing in the illegal drug problem, which is a law enforcement problem; and, thirdly, rehabilitating those who are addicted to drugs.

I do not doubt the intent of any of the participants at the Summit. I was moved often by the compassion many of them displayed during the debate. They had all attended for the right reasons. Unfortunately, it was carefully stage managed so that the politically correct attitude of harm minimisation prevailed. I challenge the approach we need to solve the problem. In her introductory speech to the Drug Summit the Leader of the Opposition clearly outlined our approach when she said:

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    The Opposition comes to this summit with an open mind.
    We come to listen, and we come to learn.
    We also come to contribute to the evolution of ideas and conclusions that will flow, hopefully, from the total experience of the week ahead.
    We bring to this Summit a set of values that underpin our approach to dealing with illicit drugs.
    Our starting point is that health and life are gifts we must all cherish.
    This summit will deal with questions of life and death and the capacity of people to live fulfilled and happy lives free of illicit drugs.
    We will consider what resources - moral, financial and structural - are necessary to support individuals to live without illicit drugs.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: I would like to be the Minister for happiness.

The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN: Indeed. She went on to say:
    There is no doubt we are facing one of the most serious social, economic and judicial challenges in recent history.
    We are facing the agony and suffering flowing from the abuse of illicit drugs . . . the suffering of too many people . . .
    It is the physical, mental and spiritual suffering of those addicted to illicit drugs and who spend their waking minutes obsessed about their next hit . . . or their last hit.
    It is about the anxiety and suffering of a 16-year-old at each step on the trail between the first experimental experience and the desperation of hardline addiction.
    It is about the love, grief, deprivation, fear and pain of parents, families, partners and friends.
    It is about the commitment and dedication of carers, counsellors and health professionals.
    And it is about the welfare and health of our total community.

I believe that the Leader of the Opposition encapsulated the spirit of liberalism in that introduction. Further on, she outlined the fundamental value held by the Opposition: that there is no safe or acceptable level of illicit drug use. This value was underpinned with a statement that was later to expose the Government’s Achilles heel in its approach to the problem. That is the issue of resources. The Leader of the Opposition said:
    We believe that government, on behalf of the community, has a duty to provide financial resources, to put accessible services on the ground and to ensure that the package of laws dealing with illicit drugs provide the maximum level of deterrent.

She went on to outline the key strategies of the Opposition to address the problem. The first was education and early intervention, to try to address the underlying causes of drug abuse. The second was law enforcement. She was adamant that no mercy should be shown to criminals who use young people to push their trade in horror. The third was rehabilitation. I will speak briefly about each of those strategies.

On the prevention side, in education we need a mix of negative and positive education. We must educate people about the negative impacts of drug abuse. But an education program based on fear alone will not solve the problem. It will, however, inform people of the negative impacts of drugs. We also need positive education on drug abuse. That would assist people to find other avenues to get the same or similar feeling that addicts get from injecting drugs. I instance skydiving. It is only $25 a hit for skydiving, which produces the same adrenalin rush but is not as addictive.

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: Yes it is.

The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN: It is not. I did a skydiving course for my fifty-fourth birthday this year, and I have tried it again. With a few more jumps I will be able to offer to take honourable members on a tandem jump. Trust me!

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: What is the point of a skydiver having a helmet? I cannot see that a helmet would do a skydiver much good.

The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN: When I was in the United States of America I investigated all parachute deaths, which numbered quite a few. Each part of the process was analysed. It was somewhat amusing because, although many pages of investigative material were produced, the cause of death was always impact. I do not know what difference the helmet made. There are alternative activities to occupy the time of drug takers. They can be given other positive education activities to keep them away from the drug culture. That would be part of the early educative process.

Part of the prevention process is addressing the influence of peer pressures. These are pressures brought about by the influence of movies and television shows that promote the impression that drugs are okay, cool and part of our culture. We must consider ways to make the producers of movies and television programs more accountable for the impact they have on influencing negative attitudes towards drugs. Drug taking has to be seen to be uncool.

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As part of the prevention strategy we need to look at the social environment of those who become involved in drug taking. Again, we must look for substitute activities, noting the families that they come from, and considering early intervention programs, to educate families and children in their early years. We must consider positive programs that could be conducted within communities. Those are the prevention aspects, to prevent people from experimenting with and taking drugs. One other vital aspect is law enforcement. The Premier himself said that we have to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. Though the Premier has introduced legislation -

The Hon. J. J. Della Bosca: That is what your advertising agency said.

The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN: Our advertising agency may have said it, but your agency picked it up. This is where we probably differ in our approach, but I do not believe drug pushers should be given any mercy at all. They should know that if they get caught pushing drugs onto kids they will be dealt with harshly, with confiscation of assets, social alienation and severe gaol sentences. People should know that there are strong deterrents against pushing drugs. That should be our clear and strong message. Rehabilitation is another aspect of dealing with illicit drugs. I think we put the cart before the horse with this trial.

Fortunately, I have been able to raise my three girls without any of them having any drug problem at all, but as a parent my greatest fear was that one of my girls might become involved in drug taking and become addicted to drugs. As a parent, if that did happen, I would want to know that in our society are a range of programs that would work for drug takers. We learned from the Drug Summit that no one program will solve all the problems of drug addiction. Therefore, I would want to know that there is a total range of programs to deal with the problem. One may involve the administration of drugs for a while during the process.

I totally support the Drug Court. That moves the young person from the criminal court system and into a system based on rehabilitation. The Opposition supports that system. Part of the rehabilitation program should emphasise self-esteem, with personal development programs to help those who use illicit drugs to become more confident and able to resist peer pressures and drugs of addiction.

More financial support should be given to non-government organisations. I do not believe that government bureaucracies are the appropriate bodies to try to fix these problems. Places like Odyssey House, the Salvation Army, Youth Insearch and Youth Off the Streets are experienced in dealing with these problems. If programs under which people are administered with drugs were carried out under medical supervision, and those people then went to a health farm or became part of a program that was run under strict supervision, I am sure there would be a difference in the Opposition’s attitude towards this proposal.

The rehabilitation process should also involve training that will enable drug takers to be employed, particularly those from a background of unemployment. The key value to each of these rehabilitation programs is zero tolerance. This brings me back to the object of the bill, because providing a place for people to shoot up, albeit under medical conditions, will achieve nothing while there is no mutual obligation on the part of drug users to do something about their addiction. I would suggest the reason they do not want to do anything about their addiction is that they do not know what to do. There is nothing to guide and help them when they leave the shooting gallery; they just go back to their old habits.

This is where the Government has been caught short. The vital next step will need resources, but resources the Government is not prepared to commit. This is the most serious flaw in the proposal to trial a shooting gallery. If the trial included a procedure that led drug users into a rehabilitation facility, I believe the Opposition would be more inclined to support it. But such an approach would require a dinkum commitment to resources - resources that the Government obviously does not have. Just last week I was called out to Kingswood in Penrith to investigate the withdrawal of school bus passes from 10 schoolchildren.

The Government will save 95¢ per child per day. The fact that the Government has to be so miserly in its approach to young children in the west is a sign that it does not have the resources. As I said earlier, the bill represents a clayton’s approach to the most serious and social problem we have in New South Wales today. Until the Government decides to get real about tackling the hard issues relating to early intervention programs, serious law enforcement and effective rehabilitation programs, we will not be a party to it.

The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT [10.30 p.m.]: If I recall correctly, in his first major contribution to debate in this House the Special Minister of State, and Assistant Treasurer referred to the resolution of a crisis in France by the convocation of experts who
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came together to deal with the plague. I remind him and other members, and respectfully my colleague the Hon. J. F. Ryan, that despite the vehemence they expressed in support of their convictions they were no less wrong than if they had simply said, "I really do not know."

Today we heard a speech from the Hon. J. F. Ryan that will be long remembered, bedizened as it was with spiritual and literary illustrations, but if its basic content is wrong it is one we should certainly examine with the same rigour as if it had been expressed in the pedestrian language that I am wont to use. Until recently I, together with other colleagues - certainly the Hon. M. R. Kersten and, for a while, the Hon. C. J. S. Lynn - took lodgings in Macleay Street. It was all I could afford. During the time I was staying in these very respectable premises in Macleay Street I had the opportunity to visit and observe the haunts of drug users with which the Hon. J. F. Ryan had been so impressed.

Perhaps because my exposure to this subculture in our society was over a longer period, or perhaps because I had some introduction to the problems and lobby groups associated with the injecting drug community through the inquiry - the report of which on the hepatitis C epidemic has been tabled and has yet to be debated - I was less susceptible to the extraordinary change of view that the Hon. J. F. Ryan has so sincerely expressed tonight. I do not doubt the sincerity of what he said, but I challenge his conclusions.

All of us in this debate have to draw on our experiences and apply our deductive capacity to them to reach our conclusions. I refer particularly to the proposed experiment of safe injecting rooms, as they are euphemistically called. Like everyone else who has spoken in the debate so far, my experience is vicarious. At about the time of the Drug Summit a member of my family, not my immediate family, lost a 20-year-old child as the result of a drug overdose.

That person certainly would not have benefited from a safe injecting room, although it may have been claimed on his behalf by his colleagues in the habit of taking drugs that it would have helped him. The truth of the matter is that his mother, who was devoted to his welfare, would pick him up from all over Sydney. All he had to do was indicate where he was and she would pick him up. He died in his home, like so many others. The idea that somehow or another, in the life that he was living, he would be attracted to a safe injecting room is quite beyond my comprehension.

On the weekend I had occasion to visit a cousin of mine who presented himself at St Vincent’s Hospital with an arrhythmic heart. While he was there an individual, covered only in the coat provided for her by the male who brought her in, presented for treatment. The woman had taken a drug overdose and her life was threatened by the collapse of her system. I challenge those who are so keen on the idea of safe injecting rooms to imagine how this woman, wearing no clothes, whatever circumstances she was in, would decide to rock on down to the Sisters of Charity to get her shot. I do not think that would be the case.

During the Drug Summit I recall that one of the representatives of the Ambulance Service that operates in the Darlinghurst area was convinced of the appropriateness of this measure on the basis of an occupational health and safety consideration for ambulance workers: they had to go into squats that have no lights and where, very often, the staircases are unsound. He felt it would be an improvement in the working conditions of members of the ambulance service if a safe injecting room was set up.

I challenge all honourable members to consider whether it breaches the reality test to believe that people who, for whatever unfortunate reason, decide to take an overdose of drugs, a lethal cocktail of drugs, would be in a rational state of mind and would elect to go on down to the safe injecting room. I think those who use the safe injecting room will be those who are still rational in their drug taking and who are unlikely to take a drug overdose.

All honourable members are aware of the drug-related death that occurred during the experiment of the euphemistic tolerance room in Kings Cross. Despite the fact that this was a brave new experiment, someone died of an overdose in a lavatory adjacent to the tolerance room, inside the actual premises. One would have to be a real optimist to believe that somehow or another safe injecting rooms will offer some hope. That is not to say that I am critical of those who are moved by compassion, as they were in Paris. They wanted to do something about the plague, but their response, sadly, was wrong; wrong in equal proportion to their compassion.

I hope that I am proved wrong and that the safe injecting room will make some contribution. But I am yet to be convinced. The proposal certainly flies in the face of all my knowledge and experience of people who are drawn into this sad syndrome. When we questioned people who were involved in
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drug taking and pointed out to them the obvious dangers of hepatitis C, which I know the Hon. Dr P. Wong knows well, they said, "Why would we be worried about the threat to the duration of our lives when in fact when you are a drug addict surviving the next half hour is what preoccupies your mind?

I doubt very much that a person, already destabilised and craving drugs, who is offered a shot will say, "I will stroll on up to the safe injecting room." My colleague the Hon. J. H. Jobling will speak about the disillusionment in other jurisdictions of the many people who have put their faith in this brave new experiment. I may be impugned for saying this. However, if we are going to be analytical, we must be frank in our criticisms. I was concerned at the Drug Summit about a phenomena that is often referred to as a supply driven solution, rather than a demand driven solution. I was engaged in a workshop where the major spokesmen were service providers. There is nothing wrong with that.

We rely on such people to take on the difficult jobs in our society, and it is proper that they should be appropriately paid by government or philanthropic programs. However, it is inevitable that they shift at times from being people who are influenced by the needs of their clients to people who are influenced by the needs of their program.

It seemed to me that many people who spoke at the Drug Summit felt that the solution to all of the world’s problems was a greater allocation of money to their area of activity. It also seemed to me that the people who were particularly keen about this experiment were those who had advocated this approach for many years. Perhaps in the first place they were satisfied with a modest experiment run by a charitable institution. But their long-range operation was the continual treatment of people permanently locked into drug addiction.

That is their life; that is what they do to fulfill themselves. I do not say this in a critical way, but we want to intervene in this vicious cycle of drug taking. The great hope that came out of the Summit was that there would be an extraordinary allocation of funds to analyse what makes people succumb to this craving.

For people who do irrational acts or initially put their foot in the mire, we might be able to assist in their rehabilitation or extend a hand to pull them back, but not extend their stay in that situation. I do not know whether it would be wise to quote the former Minister for Health. I heard the same details from one or two other contributors to the Drug Summit. The former Minister for Health said that the saddest part about the drug epidemic sweeping the world is that empirical data suggests that the rehabilitation of drug addicts is totally reliant on a person’s will and the resources around them, such as the strength of their family and the amount of finances available to them.

As to the various rehabilitation methods that have been advocated - whether they be naltrexone, methadone maintenance or cold turkey - the results of rehabilitation in the long term, say over five years, are much the same as doing nothing. That is a sobering thought. I am not advocating doing nothing. I am advocating substantially increasing the amount of money that is available to those people who believe that rehabilitation processes might help. I am opposed to the deployment of resources in areas that I believe will only encourage people to continue their habit of heroin use.

The only other aspect that I want to address tonight is the amendments to the Bail Act that have been proposed in this bill. I remind honourable members of the dangers of this approach. Many members will recall, with some pain, the two Fernando boys, one of whom was murdered in Lithgow gaol recently and the other who is serving a long prison term for the brutal murder of a nurse at Walgett. At the time those two individuals committed this crime they were in breach of an undertaking to the court to attend rehabilitation at Canowindra. They did a bunk at Canowindra, turned up momentarily at the new centre at Gongolgon and made their way without any impairment to their destination in Walgett.

The undertaking was in relation to their sentence; it was not a bail condition. Even so, the weakness of this proposal can certainly be seen in the risk that is taken in seeking such an undertaking. Ms Lee Rhiannon spoke about her horror that in some way a person’s right to bail may be blackmailed or bargained with. I assume that anyone who was not a real danger to the community could expect the normal presumption of bail. There would not be any question as to whether they undertook to attend a rehabilitation centre.

The undertaking would occur only in cases where the presumption of bail was void and they faced the real prospect of being held in custody because they were considered to be a danger to the public. In those circumstances it would be risky to say that if they volunteer to go to a rehabilitation course, if a place is available, bail would be extended to them. It is not a simple proposition at
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all. The issue needs a great deal of examination, but certainly not from the perspective proposed by Ms Lee Rhiannon.

I listened with great interest to the contribution of the Hon. J. F. Ryan. I congratulate him on the way he expressed his views sincerely and with passion and colour. However, I am not persuaded by what he had to say about safe injecting rooms. I will oppose those provisions of the bill. Further, because I believe those provisions are central to the bill, I will vote against it.

Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. J. H. Jobling.
ADJOURNMENT

The Hon. M. R. EGAN (Treasurer, Minister for State Development, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [10.48 p.m.]: I move:
    That this House do now adjourn.
PARADIS SUR MER POINT PIPER SITE

The Hon. D. J. GAY [10.48 p.m.]: I place on the public record the concerns of a constituent, a woman who represents a very proud and private family that I believe has been dealt a huge injustice. Battlers come in many different shapes and sizes and the Symonds family is a good example. What happened to them should never be allowed to happen again to anyone. In 1990 the Symonds family bought the property Paradis sur Mer in Point Piper. It is a property well known to many Sydneysiders. Honourable members would be aware of the vendor and many will remember the publicity surrounding the sale.

In 1994 the Symonds family sold the property after four years of frustration and despair. The problems they faced were indicative of the system beating people who wanted to legally develop what was their property. I would like to read a synopsis of the concerns raised by Mrs Monica Symonds. In the case of the Paradis sur Mer site at Point Piper the 1990-1994 owners paid approximately $1 million on court fees for eight separate court cases, all of which they won against Woollahra Municipal Council. Imagine the situation if council knew beforehand that it could be responsible for these costs! It would have thought twice before supporting neighbours whose claims had no substance.

Mrs Symonds believes Woollahra Municipal Council has since contravened the same planning requirements that it imposed upon the development of Paradis sur Mer in the approval and redevelopment of the new council chambers at Redleaf. Mrs Symonds believes that the Local Government Act needs amending so that the public is not subjected to long bureaucratic delays, which are costing the public and developers inordinate amounts of money.

Mrs Symonds wants reform, believing that the town planning departments of local councils should be run by professional officers who are accountable to a higher board or body. She believes that these officers should have knowledge of more stringent and equitable planning rules to which each and every person must adhere. In this way there would be no discrimination or bias, fairness would prevail, and every development application would be assessed objectively, without any room for inconsistencies.

Mrs Symonds believes that local council decisions are becoming dependent on who does the most lobbying or who knows the councillors. It is her view that the town planning system in Japan should be considered. In that country one buys a block of land knowing exactly how high, wide or far back the development can go. The same applies to the site at the front or back of a block of land which has no building on it. In these circumstances a neighbour would know exactly what could be built in future on the vacant site and would not be able to object and cause untold damage to a developer by delaying the building. A clear understanding of any constraints could prevent unacceptable applications being submitted to council, wasting ratepayers’ money.

Mrs Symonds is also of the view that councils must stop using the Land and Environment Court as a dustbin for the decision which councils put in the too hard basket because it is either unable to make a rational decision or is afraid to do so because of possible loss of electoral support. She suggests reforms to the Land and Environment Court to ensure costs are awarded to the successful party rather than the current situation in which each party pays its own costs.

This family has been poorly treated by the system as a whole. I would try to obtain answers to their concerns and have today placed a series of questions on notice about this issue. In conclusion, I believe that sadly many more people are in a similar position to that of the Symonds family. No easy solution to these problems comes to mind, apart from changes to the relevant State legislation and Acts.

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MULTICULTURAL POLITICAL REPRESENTATION

The Hon. Dr P. WONG [10.53 p.m.]: At every point in our lives we must ask ourselves how we can act together to uphold human dignity and how we can develop better ways of achieving a more responsible and democratic community. The only way in which we can achieve such a goal is through equal and unfettered participation in the decision-making process and in every aspect of our lives. The political and decision-making process has a leading role in representing and attending to the diverse and broad issues of the community.

I would like to bring to the attention of the House that the road towards more equal representation of people from non-English-speaking backgrounds in the political process is a tortuous one. However, it is making positive, slow but steady progress to the fulfilment of the principles of multiculturalism, equality, and equity of access and participation. At the recent local government elections a number of people of Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese ethnic backgrounds were elected as Unity representatives for local government.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the Unity councillors, Councillor Le Lam, the Mayor of Auburn, Councillor Thang Ngo, Councillor Joshua Nam, Councillor Ming Hua and Councillor Annie Tang. Ethnic minorities in general are underrepresented in the political decision-making process and in executive positions in the public sector.

While people born in non-English speaking countries make up close to 14 per cent of Australia’s population, their participation in policy-making institutions is approximately 6.7 per cent. In the political system the higher the political strata the less likely it is that recent migrants are involved. The policy of multiculturalism is thus very much attuned to the political reality in Australia today.

The adoption of multiculturalism in Australia has made it possible for inclusion of all cultures and values which exist in Australia. Multiculturalism also recognises and appreciates the differences between the cultures which make respective contributions to the Australian society. Their contribution is demonstrated in social aspects and equally in economic and political aspects. All major political parties acknowledge the cultural diversity. However, only recently diversity has come to be seen not only as a social justice issue but more for its spirit, freedom and equality.

We urge political parties to take a more pro-active role in promoting candidates of different cultural backgrounds in their political selection process. Only with better participation can we counter racism and prejudice. Only in this way can we enable the voices of all people, including minorities, to be heard and negotiated in the political system. Only in this way can we build a truly cohesive and progressive nation.
SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY

The Hon. J. M. SAMIOS [10.56 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about the Nepean Theatre 1999 graduating class production of The Rivers of China by Alma de Groen, directed by Catherine Hill and performed at the Sydney Theatre Company, Wharf 2, Pier 4, Hickson Road, Millers Point last Saturday night. The venue is the home of the Sydney Theatre Company. Another Australian play is Sisters. The Rivers of China was a demanding production which augurs well for the theatrical tradition Australia has long enjoyed.

We can be confident that the young people of today will provide the necessary talent and energy to score well as Australia enters the new millennium. It is important to also acknowledge the great work of the Sydney Theatre Company. I am informed that in 2000 the company will stage five new Australian plays, one a new musical. They include Seneca’s ancient myth of Oedipus in the celebrated version by Ted Hughes, the great twentieth century poet; John Webster’s tale of the dark and vivid court of sixteenth century Spain, The White Devil; and Pierre Marivaux’s La Dispute, a famous disagreement over which sex is responsible for the original sin of betrayal, speaking to us from the eighteenth century experience.

The Sydney Theatre Company is blessed with the use of two extraordinarily beautiful buildings, the wharf and the Opera House. They are great venues and no doubt in the year of the millennium and the Sydney Olympics it will be difficult to get into those venues because of their popularity and the tradition of the theatre.

In addition to the information given about the good works of the Sydney Theatre Company, I will mention the plays that are being convened for the coming year. They include The Sunshine Club by Wesley Enoch and John Rodgers; The Recruit by Tony McNamara, which will be more controversial than some of the others; The Great Man by David Williamson, which deals with the phenomenal success of a politician who becomes controversial at
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the end of his career; Nightfall by Joanna Murray-Smith; La Dispute by Pierre Marivaux; A Month in the Country by Brian Friel; and Collected Stories by Donald Margulies. In that production, that great Australian actress, Ruth Cracknell, will play Ruth Stein. [Time expired.]
BYRON BAY HEATHLAND PROTECTION

The Hon. R. S. L. JONES [11.01 p.m.]: In 1988 Bob Carr, who was then Minister for Planning and Environment, put his signature to the rezoning of a portion of land nestled below the lighthouse at Cape Byron, making it residential. The land was subsequently bought by a company named Detala Pty Ltd. Its development application was rejected by the Byron Shire Council in the early nineties but that was overturned by the Land and Environment Court in 1995. The court, completely missing the point that the heathland was itself of immense ecological value, laid down certain provisions for protecting the adjacent wetlands and handed the responsibility of overseeing these conditions to the Department of Land and Water Conservation.

Detala has recently taken the Department of Land and Water Conservation to the Supreme Court to expedite the issuing of a licence. Again, all concern is directed toward the wetland. The company now has a licence to begin not only the destruction of its own land but also adjacent Crown lands for the creation of a road, sedimentation ponds and water lines. Only the easement for the sewage lines - again involving Crown land - is yet to be decided. The company has indicated to the council that the work will begin no later than 1 November.

This extremely important land is the last area of clay-based dwarf heathland, which is a unique ecosystem that is quite distinct from other coastal heathland in New South Wales. It has been nominated for registration as an endangered ecological community. It is as diverse and complex as a rainforest, only smaller. The adjacent wetland is a rare perch lake and is home to the endangered Wallum froglet. It is a nonsense to suppose that the provisions made for its protection are anything more than an educated guess.

The area surrounding the site is proposed for a new Arakwal national park. The Detala site has been identified by local National Parks and Wildlife Service officers as potentially the most important part of that national park because of its contribution to the region’s biodiversity. An orchid, previously unnamed, has been identified as existing only on the Detala site and the immediately adjacent heathland. It appears to meet the criteria for listing as a nationally endangered species under the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992.

Last, and perhaps least, it is an area viewed by the one million visitors to the lighthouse each year, many of whom already ask why the existing houses to the south and west of the cape were allowed to be built in such a beautiful and environmentally sensitive area. In summary, the Byron Shire Council, the Byron Environment and Conservation Organisation, other smaller local environment groups, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Coast Care Committee, all relevant State Government departments including the Environment Protection Authority, the Department of Land and Water Conservation and the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning - as well as the Premier himself - indicated that the development should not go ahead.

Only the Byron Shire Council has so far promised a large amount of money towards the acquisition of the land. Until recently the developer indicated a willingness to sell. The community groups I have mentioned desperately need support from the State Government or State and Federal funding to acquire this land. I phoned Larry Anthony’s office asking for Commonwealth funds from the National Heritage Trust to assist in the purchase of the land. During a recent estimates committee hearing the Minister for the Environment said that he did not have enough money to acquire the land because he has only a pitifully small allocation to buy land in New South Wales despite the fact that there are many areas, including this, which should be acquired for the people of New South Wales.

In the meantime, there has been an urgent meeting to consider an interim protection order. I ask the Minister for the Environment to ensure that an interim protection order is put in place before 1 November - before the bulldozers move in. If he does not do so, the community groups and I will be there to defend the land with our own bodies if we have to.
UNITED NATIONS DAY

The Hon. H. S. TSANG [11.05 p.m.]: I pass on a message of salute from the Secretary of the United Nations to the New South Wales Parliament. I represented the Premier and the Government at a wreath-laying ceremony on United Nations Day, Monday 25 October, at the Martin Place Cenotaph. Each year United Nations Day provides nations with an occasion on which to look back and view our achievements and shortcomings as one international community.

This year, less than three months from entering the new millennium, it is shocking to learn that half the world’s population is entering that new era in
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abject poverty, with $2 a day or less to live on. This is obviously one issue which we, as a world community, must address; we must make changes for the better. It is equally shocking to note, as did the secretary-general, that there are so many places in the world where people are exposed to violence and brutality.

The twentieth century has been the most murderous in human history. We must make sure that the twenty-first century is more peaceful and more humane. The secretary-general has reported that United Nations [UN] personnel, who bring aid and hope to hundreds and thousands of victims of conflict, are dying and suffering grievous injury in the line of duty. More and more UN staff are becoming deliberate targets. People around the world look to the UN to protect them from hunger, disease, violence and natural disasters.

The UN can do nothing alone; its strength is the strength of its member States when they agree to act together for the common good. I was proud to learn from the United Nations Secretary-General’s message of appreciation that Australia’s current involvement in East Timor is a good example. Since 1918 Australia has participated in 19 of the 43 peacekeeping operations, enjoying a longstanding and proud commitment to the world organisation. The UN salutes the men and women of the multinational forces being led by Australia, which is striving to secure a stable climate in East Timor.

The UN Secretary-General recognises that the leadership of the Australian Government and Australian people in East Timor demonstrates and sends a strong message about Australia’s current role in world affairs. The fighting men and women in East Timor are doing a wonderful job and deserve all the appreciation from Australians at home as well as from the UN community.
TOURNAMENT OF THE MINDS

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI [11.08 p.m.]: I congratulate the team of brilliant young students from St Carthage’s School, Lismore, which recently won the national title in the Tournament of the Minds competition. New South Wales has 10 school zones, and in each zone there are 16 schools. The Lismore school won its zone competition and competed at the State level against five city zones and five country zones; and it won the State competition.

As a result, the team from St Carthage’s School was invited to attend the national competition in Adelaide. One can imagine their considerable pleasure, but that was tinged with the difficulty of raising money to send the teacher and the five students to the competition. However, they were able to obtain help from local businesses. As well as obtaining sponsorship they ran fundraising events including a monster raffle, a jelly bean guessing competition and a compulsory shave-a-thon for the teachers. The honourable member for Lismore and I approached the Minister for Education and Training because the department was a major sponsor for the tournament. I was thrilled when the Hon. John Aquilina sent a cheque for $1,500 to the school principal, Mr Anthony Boyle, to assist the students to get to Adelaide. This was a most generous donation from the Minister to assist this large catholic school in Lismore to send students to the competition.

The students involved were April Whitney, Catey Curtin, Sophie Curtin, Hayley Thomson, Luke Cleaver, Rye Johnstone and Kate Pollard. Congratulations must go to the teacher, Sue Johnstone, who has done a wonderful job with these children to the point that they were thrilled and interested in participating in a competition that requires students to show a great deal of ingenuity in terms of speech, acting, writing, making costumes and craft work. It is a true test.

I am proud that the kids from Lismore in New South Wales won the national competition. I am grateful for the support of the local business community, the parents, the school and the Minister for Education and Training to make this all possible. I hope that honourable members will encourage schools in their areas to get heavily involved in this program, which is a good program for kids. The program is exciting. The Roads and Traffic Authority is a prominent supporter of this competition, and I thank the instrumentality for its support.
UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN SYDNEY STUDENT PROTEST

Ms LEE RHIANNON [11.11 p.m.]: I wish to inform the House about a sit-in that is currently occurring at the Macarthur-Bankstown campus of the University of Western Sydney. I congratulate the students, because their action is vital to ensuring that we have quality education. At the moment we cannot rely on the administrators or the governments of this country to deliver quality education, which is what the people of western Sydney most rightly deserve. Since 1 o’clock today 100 students have been occupying parts of the buildings on the Macarthur-Bankstown campus. I understand that they decided to occupy this building -

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The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: You approve of this illegal activity, do you?

Ms LEE RHIANNON: Most definitely, and I will probably join the protesters at the campus because, unless we have such strong action, the education system will go down the drain. The fact that the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti is interjecting so strongly shows that he is prepared to penalise the people of western Sydney. The students are occupying the buildings because the Macarthur President, Professor David Barr, failed to attend a meeting to discuss student concerns. It is outrageous that the administration has refused to consult the students.

Many people in administration seem completely ignorant of the impact of their decisions on the quality of education at this institution. These decisions have already resulted in increased tutorial sizes, reductions in access to computer laboratories and a massive increase in the real cost of education. One of the participants, the President of the Bankstown Students Association, Mr Richard Martino, said:
    We will not stand by and allow this institution to fail in its responsibility to those in Sydney’s south-west. Many students are the first in their family to attend University. If their education is to be of use to them and even more importantly to those in their community, it has to be of a high standard. If the current trend in Government funding and poor administrative decisions continue the University will fail its responsibility to these students, future students and the broader community.

The protesters are taking up the issues of car parking fees, printing charges and paying for course outlines. Members of the Coalition may think that students should have to pay for these things. However, if they had a reality check of what life is like in western Sydney, they would find that these costs make it much harder, if not impossible, for students from poorer families to attend university. If students manage to meet the huge costs and accept the growing higher education contribution scheme debt, they at least deserve to gain a first-rate education.

The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: The old class war. Truth is the very first casualty.

Ms LEE RHIANNON: That is why the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti loses it so often. I am not talking about a revolution. I am talking about the basic right to education. The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti has lost it again. It seems both the university administration and the Federal Government - and that is why Coalition members are yelling so loudly - are content to provide western Sydney with the scraps left over from the more established and wealthier universities.

The university claims it cannot fund the student demands because of Liberal Government funding cuts, but students are calling for the university to cut the perks, not academic spending, before cutting staff or passing the costs onto the students. Examples of what the students are demanding to be cut to fund their needs are the $750,000 new senior executive office suite; a new $50,000 four-wheel drive for the financial services director; and the university’s advertising and public relations budget, which portrays a false view of what life at the University of Western Sydney is really like.

They are all perks and ways of conning people and do not deliver education to the people of western Sydney. That is why the Greens most definitely congratulate the students who have taken action today in occupying the buildings at the University of Western Sydney, Macarthur campus, because they are fighting for quality education, something that members of the Opposition would not know about. [Time expired.]

Motion agreed to.
House adjourned at 11.16 p.m.