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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 113

Question No. 280


Mr Jacobi asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 26 May 1983:

(1) Will he take urgent steps to implement those recommendations which relate to the need for comprehensive drug legislation between the States and the Commonwealth contained in the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking, Book D, as set out on pages D119-120.

(2) Does he propose to take action in relation to the recommendations calling for the Commonwealth Parliament and the legislatures of the States and Territories to form a national code to deal with drug trafficking, to ensure (a) that a uniform drug trafficking code should give wide powers to law enforcement, (b) a Drugs of Dependence Act should be enacted in each State and Territory, and (c) that the Drugs of Dependence Act should govern import and export of drugs and other related matters; if so, what action will he take.

(3) Does he propose to take legislative action to support a national strategy against drug abuse; if so, what action is intended.

(4) Is it a fact that the scheduling and classifying of drugs should be uniform throughout Australia; if so, will he ensure that early action is taken to implement these recommendations.


Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) and (2) The Commonwealth is taking action through the Ministerial Committee on Drug Strategy (MCDS) and the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) to implement the recommendations of the Australian Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs (ARCID) in relation to the preparation of model drug legislation. It is expected that development of draft legislation, which ARCID suggested could be in the form of a uniform Drug Trafficking Act and a uniform Drugs of Dependence Act , will form the basis of a National Code to deal with drug trafficking. The detailed content and form of the legislation will not be finally decided until examination of the 218 ARCID legislation proposals has been completed by the Commonwealth and States in the forums of the Ministerial Committee on Drug Strategy and through the organs of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. It will be a matter for each State and Territory to determine , in co-operation with the Commonwealth, the form and content legislation will take in their jurisdiction.

(3) The basis of the national strategy which has been endorsed in principle by the Commonwealth in the forum of the MCDS is outlined on page D28 of the ARCID Report. Those aspects of the National Strategy on page D28, which ARCID suggested would require legislative action e.g. statutory recognition of the difference which the community recognises between the trafficker and the pedlar/ user, and minimisation of the impact of the criminal law upon illegal drug experimenters by allowing the expunging of convictions, are matters which are being taken up in the context of the development of model drug legislation.

(4) The ARCID recommendations relating to the uniform scheduling and classifying of drugs throughout Australia, have been examined by the Australian Health Ministers' Conference which resolved on 28 April 1983 that the National Health and Medical Research Council be asked to review the definition of Schedule 8 drugs and examine appropriate Schedules in the Uniform Poisons Standard to see how they relate to the controls proposed under the Drugs of Dependence Act.