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Thursday, 18 November 1976

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) -The Narcotics Drugs Amendment Bill proposes to transfer certain responsibilities to the Department of Health, those responsibilities relating in all cases to licit drugs. My purpose in speaking for a few minutes is to express the hope that the Bureau of Narcotics and the Minister foi* Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard) perhaps will now be permitted to devote even greater effort to dealing with the illicit drugs. There is one most dangerous aspect of the attitude towards drugs at the moment. Unfortunately, it is promulgated by people in positions of responsibility. For instance, with the insanity abroad in Queensland at the moment, we may even see the full moon affect those who legislate to a point at which possibly they will distribute marihuana.

Let me state one or two facts. These are facts. They are not based on emotion. They are based on experience over a period of the last 6 to 8 years during which I have had an opportunity of seeing something of the drug scene, not only in this country but also, for a period of 3 months, in the city of New York. It is perfectly obvious. Honourable members can ask anyone who is a drug addict, or who has been one, about the position and they will be told: Marihuana is not addictive in that your body screams for it in a physical sense. However, what it does is to bring about an apathy because its user is not getting the lift that marihuana does bring. As my friend, the honourable member for Evans (Mr Abel), pointed out so explicitly, that newspaper headline to which he referred has aroused more comment around the House and elsewhere than any newspaper report that has appeared for a long time.

I would make a statement with complete conviction, although again I take the risk of incurring ridicule by that outstanding and magnificent newspaper, Nation Review. God help me if it ever praises me. The kiss of death would be given in a third dimensional way. The point is that there is always the possibility of graduation to the heavy drugs by anyone who has used marihuana. It will be said: 'OK, the statistics show that 90 per cent'- I am pulling this figure out of the air- 'of those who have been using marihuana graduate to the heavy drugs'. However, it may be said also that that is 90 per cent of about 5 per cent. That is a very weak sort of an argument. The fact is that of that S per cent who used marihuana, 90 per cent did go on to use heroin.

Dr Klugman - That is not true.

Mr KATTER - I said that I pulled that figure out of the air. My friend, who is distinguished in many areas, apparently has not a great capability in mathematics. I wish to refer to a recent finding by the narcotics section of the World Health Organisation. If this is not true, the World Health Organisation might as well be disbanded. I believe that its narcotics section operates on statistics from all parts of the world. It contains some of the world s greatest expertise. It has now been shown conclusively that the habitual- let me make that clear- smoking of marihuana has some very clear side effects. One of these is that women's reproductive organs are affected to a point at which monstrosities can be produced. The reproduction facilities in young men are limited to a point at which there are no further facilities. Thus, a young man can take his choice as to what his recreations will be. I can assure honourable members that these findings have been proved fairly conclusively. However, this is the appalling side effect: It has been proved conclusively that there is a real possibility of the creation of cancer cells.

The sad part about this- it has been perfectly projected in the House today- is that honourable members opposite some day will have to face the condemnation of the people because they have accepted the proposition that marihuana is harmless. Let them go and explain their attitude to the father of that young boy mentioned in the newspaper article. Let the womenfolk strongly associated with the Australian Labor Party who time and again promulgate that marihuana use is harmless tell that to the father of that lad whose drug problems started with marihuana. Let them tell the World Health Organisation it is a lot of hogwash that there is the remotest possibility of cancer cells being created. While these dangers of the drug pusher exist, these men and women in public life who promulgate the smoking of marihuana should be put away for the rest of their lives. That may sound like a very broad statement. If honourable members have seen what I have seen of the drug scene- I wish I had more time to expose it in the House- they would be entitled to become a little hot under the collar in relation to these matters.

I will conclude my remarks as I began. I would hope that the Minister and his splendid and superb Bureau of Narcotics- I have seen its officers in action- now that the responsibilities for controlling licit drugs have been taken away from the Department, will to an even greater extent do everything in their power to apprehend these vicious criminals who are responsible for the wrecking of lives and the creation of half people. These people- the pushers primarily- must be put where they belong. They should be put in gaol for life. If there is capital punishment iri any overseas country concerned, good luck to them. They can take the extreme penalty. Naturally, we all support the Bill. We hope that with this new arrangement there will be greater power and muscle in the hands of the Minister and his Department.

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