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Thursday, 18 November 1976

Mr ABEL (Evans) -I rise to support the Bills. I do not rise simply to take the time of the House in idle chatter or because a government speaker is the next speaker to receive the call. I would like to refer specifically to the second reading speech of the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard) wherein he states that action against trafficking in narcotics and the possession of narcotics illicitly imported still remains a function of the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs. Narcotics are responsible for the greatest human tragedy that this country and the world has seen. I am sure that I would be joined by most honourable members and concerned Australians in predicting that in a few short years unless something is done to ensure that the import of illicit drugs to this country is cut off, we shall have a tragedy which we shall greatly regret. I am not suggesting for one moment that the Bureau of Narcotics is not doing its job. Quite the contrary. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Bureau of Narcotics and its officers on the job that they do. Their job is not easy because those who would illicitly import drugs into this country are dealing in a multi-million dollar empire and their ways and means are devious. In most instances they use innocent people or those within their organisation who have little or nothing to lose but a lot to gain.

The front page of last night's Daily Mirror carried a simple headline which referred to a real tragedy. The headline stated:

Smoking pot at 13 . . . shooting heroin at 16 . . . dead at 18.

This is the story of a young boy with a lot to live for who at 13 years of age was introduced to pot and graduated to the big scale at death. His death was brought about by people throughout the world who nave found a wonderful way of making money. I refer to trafficking in heroin, marihuana, hashish, LSD and cocaine. I do not know whether honourable members have any idea of the current value of the illicit drug, heroin. At the moment heroin in 0.2-gram capsule form sells for $40. On that basis a kilogram of heroin is worth $250,000. That is a lot of money. The size of the product is not very large but it can cause so much death.

Seizures this year from 1 January to 31 October of heroin alone amount to 10 806 grams. This was almost 11 kilograms and the estimated market value is $3m. The 1 1 kilograms of heroin confiscated or seized was in pure form. However, the dealer and the pusher do not sell the heroin in that form. They like to adulterate it. They like to put various additives with it to increase its value. As it passes from one hand to another it goes into an adulterated form. Information that I have suggests that it can be adulterated up to a ratio of 10 times to one but that on average the ratio would be four or five to one. So this year 50 000 grams or more of adulterated heroin could have found its way onto the marketplace at a market value of $ 10m.

I have spoken about the value and quantity of heroin. But what about the doses? About 250 000 doses of heroin could have been obtained from the quantity I have just mentioned. Some of the 250 000 doses could have been available to my children, to the children of all honourable members and to children and adults throughout this country. I am concerned about this problem. I am not standing here in this House as some sort of fool pushing a wheel barrow. I stand here as a member of this place who has an opportunity to make the people of this country and honourable members aware of the seriousness of this problem. Illicit drugs are a multi-million dollar business that deals in death.

I would like to refer again to the story of Jamie McGrath, the boy who smoked his first joint of marihuana at 13 years of age. The father of this boy is concerned because he has lost a son. He is concerned enough to devote time, effort and financial resources now to setting up a rehabilitation centre to help young drug addicts. I hope that the people of New South Wales, particularly those in Sydney, will get behind Mr McGrath and help him with this project. It is not a matter of catching the importer of drugs; we have a responsibility as a Commonwealth government as much as the State governments to ensure that a proper rehabilitation program is provided for the poor unfortunates who become addicted to narcotic drugs. I believe that Mr McGrath will go throughout his life helping the unfortunates to have a future. Every day I read newspapers which carry headlines such as '$250,000 in drugs ' and ' Four on charges ' or I read how $ 1 m worth of drugs has been seized. As a matter of fact, $3m worth of drugs was seized at Ashfield, which is in my electorate, just 3 short weeks ago. This sort of occurrence indicates that something has gone wrong with society.

There seems to me to be a certain acceptance of drug taking today. There seems to be some degree of unawareness of the real problem. It is true that the problem is heroin, cocaine and LSD. But over one ton of hashish has been seized this year and surely that is where the problem is beginning. I am not a medical expert. Maybe marihuana has no harmful effects. But the fact is that an 18-year old boy who started smoking marihuana died from using herion

Dr Klugman - He started on mother's milk.

Mr ABEL - I think that the honourable member, being a medical practitioner, would agree that if a 13-year old boy is introduced to marihuana, and if he becomes addicted to that drug and then goes to a harder drug because he finds that he gets no pleasure from the first drug, he has started on the road to destruction not from mother's milk but from marihuana.

I hope and I pray that the Government will introduce measures to fight this problem. I am confident, having had discussions with the Minister, and he in turn having had discussions with State Ministers, that the Government will introduce measures that will seek to remove from society those people who would seek to bring into this country and to deal in drugs of addiction. It is not a simple case of imposing a monetary fine. It is not a simple case of placing someone in prison. Let us go further and take the property of the people involved. Let us remove the wealthy assets that they have accumulated over the years with the massive profits they have made. The sum of $100,000 is not much to be offered to bring heroin into this country; $10,000 is not much to offer someone to bring in marihuana. It is a multi-million dollar business.

I again remind honourable members and the people who are listening to this broadcast that narcotic drugs and drugs of addiction kill. They do not provide life. They do not provide a future for those who take the cursed things. They provide death. We have a responsibility. As I nave said before in this chamber, I will do all I can to ensure action is taken to apprehend and to punish those who bring in drugs. Also I want to be able to help and have others help the poor unfortunates who have been addicted to drugs through these dregs of society.

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