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Thursday, 25 November 1999
Page: 12746


Mr PRICE —I want to talk today about what was, I suppose, a very pleasant duty that I had in my electorate. On 10 November I opened a Rapid Opiate Detoxification Unit which, I have to say, is not a very large facility of some four beds. Using the drug Naltrexone, it allows drug addicts to be completely clean of drugs within 24 hours. When you open these facilities, you really get excited about the marvellous good it will do for your electorate. I regret to say that I did not open it on that basis, because the patients come from the North Shore, eastern suburbs and basically everywhere other than my electorate. There are two simple reasons for that. Firstly, once you have been detoxed, you have got to take this drug constantly. It costs between $300 and $400 per month. People in my electorate cannot afford to go through a program like that, nor can they afford the upfront fee to go onto this program.

I do not believe that anyone has simple answers as far as drug addiction is concerned, and I am confident that we need to provide drug dependent people and families with choices. I think this program is going to play a most important part; it will make a significant contribution. It will not be the total answer, but it will get a lot of people off drugs and all that that brings with it. But the issue for the government is whether this should be on the PBS. This is hardly a radical drug. I have put a question on the Notice Paper to have listed the number of countries that have approved this—and I might say that in the States it has been approved for many years. It really should be on the PBS.

Last but not least, we ought to give drug dependent people the choice of going onto the program without forcing them to commit further crime to pay upfront to get on. That is really a bad situation. I urge the government to embrace this program so that working-class people and young people can have this choice and not just those coming from wealthy families. I do not grudge them; I am pleased that they are coming there. I welcome them, and I am delighted for them and their families that they are drug free. But I do say that my constituents should have an equal go and a fair go.