Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 27 February 1990 What we need to put in place is a realistic drug education strategy that recognises the harm that different drugs, including alcohol and nicotine, can cause to a person and so try to wean i nte 11 i gent people off those drugs. But what'do we have in this legislation? We have no drug education perspective at all. There is no call in the legislation for courts to call for assessment of drug dependence 'i n regard to seri ous offences i nvo 1 ving drugs of addiction, We have no provision for treatment centres for confirmed drUg addicts. There is nothing like that. Instead, we have this heavy-handed attack that does not discriminate between different classes and categories of drugs. I suggest also that we target much more specifically the problem areas such as trafficking in and the growing and manufacture of commercial quantities of drugs. No one wants to see that happen. We need to identify that clearly as a problem and concentrate our resources on that, and leave aside all this other nonsense. If that is not done, the police will not be tackling the real crime pattern and the real crime problem and, as a result, we will have a growth in drug activity in the Northern Territory. If the government is serious about this package of legislation and if it wants to tackle all these problems, it will need to increase dramatically the level of resources given to the police in the Northern Territory. Quite clearly, the government does not intend to do that. It will not provide a clear lead to the police on the areas on which they should concentrate such as trafficking, manufacturing and commercial growing. That is too simple for the government. It wants this heavy-handed, unthoughtful approach that has been di scredi ted almost everywhere else and that very promi nent people say will .notwork. Thi s government is 1 i vi ng in the 19th century rather than the 20th century. Mr Reed: Do you think that the police might have had a bit of input into this or not? Mr SMITH: If the police have had some impact on this, this is the first piece of legislation for quite a while where that has occurred~ Mr Speaker, it gives us no pleasure to oppose this package of legislation because we recognise that there is community concern about drugs and we recogni se that the community wants to see some action. I take the point made by the member for Jingili that, as yet, the position in the Northern Territory is not as bad as it is elsewhere, and certainly we do not want it to become as bad as it is elsewhere. However, the government cannot expect the peop 1 e of the Northern Terri tory and thi s oppos i t i on to support legislation that so blatantly lies to people about the drug problem that exists in the Northern Territory and so blatantly fails to provide a lead to the community about the priorities in drug prevention in the Northern Territory. After the in it i a 1 furore over the Poi sons and Dangerous Drug s Amendment Bill, the government had an opportunity to get it right. At that stage, it knew the strength of community feeling in respect of very basic questions like the home use of marijuana and growing it for personal use. That is the reason why thi slegi slation will not work. It does not establish the priorities for action. It does not provide the community with a lead. It does not say to the community of the Northern Territory that a very serious problem exists in relation to trafficking, growing and manufacture. Instead, it is attempting to persuade people that all drugs are bad in all circumstances. Unfortunately, the people in the community do not believe that. They will not bel i eve ~he government and they wi 11 not take any 8840
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