Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)



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





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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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 - Tuesday 27 February 1990 health problems and sometimes deaths occurring. I have spoken myself in the Assembly about these problems in the past and I think that, in addition to the problems of the misuse of drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, which are not included in this bill, the problem of petrol sniffing could have received a more constructive mention in the Territory context. Its acute effects include hallucinations, confusion, nausea, headache and dizziness. Chronic sniffers may suffer from lead encephalopathy, cerebella ataxia, seizures and impairment of cognitive functions. The question which needs to be asked is not why penalties have not been introduced for petrol sniffing but, rather, why harsh penalties should be instigated for some illicit drugs whi ch, on a statist i ca 1 bas is, do not cause such dangerous effects as other substances which are equally if not more harmful to our young people. This is exactly the point which I made at the outset; we are not telling the truth to our young people. Comment needs to be made also about kava in this context. It is not mentioned in the bill. The minister sidestepped the question in his second-reading speech by saying that kava is neither a drug nor a volatile substance. He says that it is a food. Mr Manzie: That is what it presently is. Mr BELL: I think that the definition of a 'drug' could be extended to include kava; If the honourable minister has chosen to exclude kava in this context, given the sort of concerns which are being expressed about its use in some communities, I wonder whether such walking by on the other side is appropriate. The minister went on to say that the government had not made any final decisions in this matter and would not do so ... Mr Manzie: That was 12 months ago. Mr BELL: communities. ... until there had been full discussion with Aboriginal The minister suggests that that was 12 months ago. If he has more information to pass to the Assembly in this regard, it would be appreciated. I concur with the proposa,l not to include kava as an illegal drug. We are not suggesting ti'lat. Iii tile cOlitext of tlie current illegality distinctions, education is the appropriate broad .path to be taken but, if we are talking about the misuse of drugs, I do not believe that it is possible to ignore the question of problems with kava in some communities in the Top End. I turn next to penaltyguide1 ines and the assessment of drug-dependent persons. The legislation has taken into consideration the concept of the drug-dependent person and has clearly defined such a person. However, there may be some problems in relation to establishing who is drug dependent and who is not, and I wi11100k forward to hearing from the minister whose responsibility it will be to make that determination on drug dependence. Regardless of where the responsibility lies, whether it is with individual offenders or the courts, the courts will require assessment and reports. If this legislation is passed and is successful in identifying much small-scale trafficking and possession, many of these people will be drug dependent and others may try to estab 1 i sh drug dependence in order to get a .1 i ghter penalty, when in fact they do not have a problem. There is concern as to how effecttve1y the court will be ~b1e to differentiate dependent versus non-dependent people. There is also a 8833

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