Territory Stories

Debates Day 4 - 20 August 1975



Debates Day 4 - 20 August 1975

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Parliamentary Record 5


Northern Territory. Department of the Legislative Assembly


Debates for 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT; 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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pages 457 - 498

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES-Wednesday 20 August 1975 A different type of detoxification service is being delivered to the alcoholic individual at starting point, a non-medical emergency care centre in Stockton California. That is an entirely voluntary centre. In my considered opinion a voluntary centre would not work in the Northern Territory. Most of our alcoholic people are fairly hardened in their ways and I do not think that gentle persuasion is going to get them in there to start with. I certainly advocate a voluntary system given time, but I think that we have to make a start right now and some compulsion will be necessary to make the expenditure of public moneys at all worth while. In Melbourne, they have a detoxification centre with 14 intensive care beds, outpatients facilities and close links with hospitals and other emergency care units. We should be able to get away with at least that. The report does not only deal with drunkenness, it deals with multiple drug use such as heavy smokers, people taking excessive doses of analgesics and tranquilizers. Of course, I could not let pass the way doctors prescribe valium these days. My own comment is simply that with any prescription for valium a copy should have to be forwarded to a central Health Department pool where it should be noted and the people receiving prescriptions for valium and other types of tranquilizers should be called on to report for psychiatric or other corrective treatment because the prescription of drugs such as valium is merely putting the thing down; it is not curing; it is not a constructive move at all. Social controls have an important bearing on diminishing or enhancing the extent of drug use and social problems and as has been remarked in this Chamber earlier today, could be a particularly great spur to use of drugs such as alcohol, tranquilizers and other stimulants especially in the present social climate of Darwin. Bans and restrictions cannot provide the true answer to large social problems. I agree with Dr Milner on that. Dr Milner's view is that the government should issue an explicit statement of national ideals, goals and expectations in relation to alcohol and other drug use. I think that is the most important part of his report. Dr Milner provides concrete proposals in relation to setting up counselling centres, having counsellors roving through the community and the detoxification centres or sobering-up units as he prefers to call them. He details the economic loss the community suffers as a result of the excessive intake of alcohol and the use of 493 other drugs. He relates a couple of jokes from Yugoslavia which apparently is a country where there is a great deal of alcoholism. The 2 most notorious cases were of a child of 4Y2 who developed delirium tremens and a man who was a lifelong TT developing DTs also. The latter earned his living as a fisherman and when he was at sea on a small ship with a number of colleagues for several days at a time, they would subsist largely on fish soup and the soup, although he did not know it, was prepared on a wine base. Dr Milner proposes stringent amendments to the law in relation to publicans, imposing requirements on them in relation to the servicing of alcohol to young people. He asks us where we are heading. That is the whole question. Where are we heading? That is what I ask also. The problem is a very serious one and it is probably because I am one of those Northern Territory alcoholics that I am speaking for quite as long as this. I ask that members view this report seriously. It concerns particularly the people of the centre. I ask this Assembly to support Dr Milner in his report and push consistently, without overlooking the report, for reforms, both in legislation and in setting up of the various facilities needed to deal with alcoholism and other drug dependences which we choose now to regard as a social evil, choose to regard as an illness, a disease, rather than a crime. Ifwe choose to do that, we must accept the responsibility for paying for the treatment and I ask this Assembly, in supporting Dr Milner, to keep pressing for the provision of finance to set up the centres that Dr Milner asks for. I completely support the report. Debate adjourned. ADJOURNMENT DEBATE Miss ANDREW: I move that the Assembly do now adjourn. I wish to bring to public attention the remarkable work being done by a small group of people who are currently occupying, or perhaps squatting, after the information the member Social Affairs gave us earlier today, in Essington House. Mr Pollock: I didn't say that. Miss ANDREW: Essington House was designed in 1962 and the concepts that it had were very different from those of 1975. It was not occupied until late in 1974. I guess in

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