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Tuesday, 12 May 1970


Mr CHIPP (HOTHAM, VICTORIA) (Minister for Customs and Excise) - My answer to the last part of the honourable gentleman's question is that I would agree with the social worker, who must be respected because, as I understand it, he has had a great amount of experience with young people taking drugs, if he said that health education wrongly directed or in the hands of amateurs can be counterproductive or can be more harmful than useful. On the other hand the honourable gentleman asks whether the Government is concerned with the drug taking problems in Australia and seeks some comparative statistics, lt is very hard to announce a set of facts with any amount of certainty. When I say that the Department of Customs and Excise seized 18 times more marihuana and hashish this year than last year, that can mean a great number of things. It can mean that our methods are more efficient. It can also mean that our competitors' methods are more efficient. There can be no shadow of doubt that international syndicates which want to smuggle this garbage into Australia are stepping up their activities. The honourable gentleman asks how we should regard this. Statistics issued in the United States of America as late as 11th March from the White House indicate that somewhere between 12 million and 20 million Americans today are using, or have used, marihuana and hashish. This is a figure which fills me with great concern. The honourable gentleman also asks what we can do about it. I believe that no matter how efficient we are in the Department of Customs and Excise we cannot and shall not stop all the narcotics coming into Australia. We shall stop only the tip of the iceberg and we shall never know how big the submerged part is. So the only conceivable answer is health education and the provision of the appropriate amount of money to support the kind of health education programme that is needed. The kind of health education we need would be not only the education of parents so that they will be aware of the possible dangers and how to alert their children to those dangers, but also the education of the community itself to look for things such as the quality of life rather than the material things which tend to drive people on to seeking false methods of gaining euphoria.







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