BARBARA STREET METHADONE CLINIC
Mr TRIPODI (Fairfield) [12.48 p.m.]: I wish to inform the House about developments in harm minimisation drug programs in the Fairfield electorate. Honourable members may recall that last year I called for a review of the Barbara Street methadone clinic. That review took place and many adverse findings were made against the clinic, the primary recommendation being that the clinic be relocated. The review also identified a range of problems associated with the current location. Council zoning is one of the major restraints on relocation, but ongoing discussions are taking place about a possible new location.
A decision by Holroyd City Council to rezone via amendment 20 to its local environmental plan allowed brothels and medical clinics in industrial areas in the Holroyd council area, which placed the suburb of Yennora as a possible site for a methadone clinic clearly on the agenda. The council has claimed it was never its intention to allow methadone clinics into the industrial area; its intention was to allow a medical clinic to accommodate any brothels in that suburb. Since that rezoning, applications that seem to be within the definition of a medical clinic have been lodged and are currently being considered by the council. In all fairness, proper due process has to be undertaken in the consideration of these applications. The council has taken every measure to achieve fairness in this
process by the appointment of an independent consultant to assess the applications. Fairness must be ensured so that any decisions made by the council will not be appealed against in the Land and Environment Court.
To assist in the process of proper determination, Holroyd Council has requested information from the New South Wales Health Department. The councillors have informed me that their requests of the Health Department have not delivered results. I ask the Minister that the department accommodate the council and deliver as much information as possible so that an informed decision can be made on this matter, so that the good councillors can make an informed decision about whether to allow a methadone clinic in the Yennora industrial estate.
It is a difficult task for government agencies and elected representatives to balance public and community health administration and the interests, fears and concerns of local residents and business owners and operators. Yennora residents, primarily through the East Fairfield Progress Association, have run a decent and fair campaign to express their opposition to the setting up of a possible methadone clinic in Yennora. I particularly thank Jim Newell, President of that association, and Jenny Jordan, President of the Yennora Public School Parents and Citizens Association, for the responsible, articulate, balanced roles they have played as community representatives and leaders. They have allowed a reasonably balanced debate to occur and mitigated the extreme elements that can arise in such debates.
Furthermore, I commend the residents who have run an extremely good campaign to express their views on the matter and have taken the time to properly inform themselves on the issues, arguments and matters involved. Once the council makes its determination on the applications, the New South Wales Health Department will make its assessments, and finally the Minister for Health and I will be formally involved in the process. The department has already said that if a methadone clinic were allowed in the area, only one would be approved. It is my view that the proper process must be complied with before I become formally involved. But I assure the residents and property owners at Yennora that the representations, concerns, fears and wishes they have expressed to me have not fallen on deaf ears. At every stage my involvement will be motivated by one consideration - the best interests of the people I represent.
It is important to clarify that my formal involvement in the process is still not required. The applications are currently before council. At the end of that process the New South Wales Health Department will be considering those applications and formally making recommendations. I will pay particular attention to the guidelines for the establishment of methadone clinics and will give strong consideration to the wishes of the Yennora residents. When my formal participation is required I will then express my views on the matter.