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Thursday, 17 August 1972
Page: 169


Senator CARRICK (New South Wales) - I congratulate all who had anything to do with the initiation of the inquiry into this subject, the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse and those who have taken part in the debate in this Senate. In my view, the report of the Committee has epitomised the basis of the Committee system. I commend it as being essentially non-partisan. I think that that is good even though, when one holds a partisan idea, one should not be frightened to say so. But I do indeed commend the report and recommend it for reading and study by all as a basic document exposing the problem and putting forward some initial ideas. In itself I think the report traces the idea - and I accept it - that drug taking is an illness and should be treated as such. I share Senator Turnbull's view on that aspect. The Report underlines that this is a world-wide phenomenon, growing in epidemic proportions. Of course, as man becomes more clever in terms of pharmacology we will have, understandably, more drugs.

The report has insisted that alcohol and tobacco are themselves most serious and that, indeed, we should not blame the young. We set them a bad example in middle age and later. As I think Senator Murphy has underlined, the analgesics need to be looked at with considerable concern. Later I shall turn to that matter in broader principle.

Senator Turnbullhas just spoken and I must say with due deference that I dis-

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agree with him. In my argument I would call on his evidence to support my argument against him. It is a good principle in law - I think Senator Murphy will agree with this - that where there is a victim or a potential victim society protects him. In relation to cannabis Senator Turnbull said that there may well be genetic effects. If that is so there may well be potential victims and society should look to protect the potential victims. The honourable senator said that this is a new and potentially dangerous and harmful drug. I use his words. If this is so can we in fact give it a green light, even though I know his caveat? I know he has said that he is not recommending it. I fully understand this. I am not seeking to score any debating point at all. I am merely attempting to underline the matter. The honourable senator said that we do not know whether there is any brain damage. We do know that a number of experiments have been carried out, particularly in England, which suggest that there might be. There might be some presenile atrophy of the brain and the cerebral cortex arising from this. While the honourable senator is here I would like to pose a question. I was astonished - having visited many hospitals and seen people under dialysis for nephritic conditions or kidney conditions and having spoken to many neurologists - to hear Senator Turnbull who is a medical practitioner and therefore whose advice must be listened to, suggesting in regard to salicylates that one would have to take about 80 aspirin tablets a day to do harm. I think this matter needs clarification because we are speaking to the public and community of Australia. It is my understanding that expert pharmacologists and neurologists put that figure many times smaller and start querying the situation at about 8 or 10 aspirin tablets a day as a normal prescription. Indeed, they put the same caveat on phenacetin. I say these things out of context merely to put on challenge the things which Senator Turnbull has said. I think that all of us would want to present to the public no sense of melodrama on this matter.

I share the worry about the drug cannabis. I cannot reconcile myself with the dilemma which we all have. We all agree that we should take the strongest measures against pushers and pedlars. Yet it is suggested that those who buy or acquire the drag should be free from any penalty. That is a dilemma which I should like to examine.

Sitting suspended 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.


Senator CARRICK - Before the suspension of the sitting I was seeking to make some rebuttal of a number of points that Senator Turnbull had asserted. I referred first to the safety of a dose of an analgesic such as aspirin and drugs such as phenacetin. I suggested that in my view it was a serious error to say that one could take 80 aspirin tablets in a day without ill effect. I felt that this assertion should be corrected. Also I pointed out that Senator Turnbull, when referring to marihuana - cannabis - by his own statements had made a compelling position for the reverse stance to that which he took. He had taken the stance that one should do nothing by way of penalty to those who ingest cannabis, but at the same time he said that the drug might well have genetic effects. He said that it was a new potentially dangerous and harmful drug but that it was not known whether it would cause brain damage. I want to pose to the Senate one question and one question only on the test of our attitude to such a drug.

We will all remember that it was only some months ago that we had before the Senate an important medical challenge on the drug imipramine. It was a drug :n respect of which Dr McBride, of world fame, felt a warning should be sounded as a possible cause of genetic deformities, at least damaging the foetus in utero. No one in this chamber took any view other than that if the drug were in doubt or on challenge it should not be free to be distributed.


Senator Cavanagh - Hear, hear!


Senator CARRICK - I acknowledge Senator Cavanagh's interest and deep involvement in this debate. I had done so before the suspension of the sitting. If it is right that we should take the view that the drug should not be free to be distributed; if it is right that there is a potential victim such as a foetus in utero, whom we should protect, then quite clearly we should do nothing knowingly to cause haron.


Senator Gair - Being able to buy drugs is like being able to have an abortion on request.


Senator CARRICK - Indeed, I agree. Cannabis stands under challenge. Everybody in the Senate and virtually everybody in public agrees that pedlars and pushers of cannabis should be given the most serious punishment. I find myself in this dilemma, and it was in this dilemma that we adjourned: Whilst 1 want to treat the drug ingesters and the drug addicts as people who are suffering from illness, nevertheless if we punish the pusher and the pedlar and we do not put a penalty on the ingester we are de facto legalising marihuana. No matter what else we may do de jure, we are in effect legalising it. If as a government we are de facto legalising it, we are de facto encouraging it. There is no doubt about that. I respect Senator Turnbull's right to express the view that he does not want penalties for this, although he is not advocating it, but I reject his contention. In my judgment that is an antipathetic stance. If we say to the public that de facto it is legal we are legalising it de jure and indeed, to all intents and purposes, putting our imprimatur on it. I suggest that this is what the Wolfenden Committee in England found after it had submitted its report. Quite contrary to its viewpoint with regard to homosexuality, it found a backlash because people who in the past had been tottering between heterosexuality and homosexuality when there was a sanction against it and turned towards heterosexuality began to go the other way when there was no sanction and no law.


Senator Cavanagh - What if its use is for treatment of a sickness and not with criminal intent?


Senator CARRICK - I hope the basis of all that .1 say is directed entirely to that point. Nevertheless I believe that whilst the punishment should not be harsh, there should be a penalty for those who possess or ingest marihuana. When a person is in possession of marihuana 'there is the possibility also that he is a pusher or a pedlar, even if his operations are limited in size.

I am not here to condemn. On the contrary, I have taken the posture that I believe that drug addiction Is an illness and is not in itself a crime, but I wanted to sound these warnings. I repeat that df imipramine is on challenge because of the potential dangers, which we do not know, so is cannabis. They stand side by side and I challenge anyone to say otherwise.

Senator Turnbullwas at pains to talk about a number of things. He ridiculed the Health Department because prescriptions for sleeping tablets had been reduced from 50 a time to 25 a time. The reason for the reduction in the dose is not as he suggests, to get the poor pensioner back to the doctor twice, the inference being that the doctor would make more money from that. On the contrary, the reason is, as has become known worldwide, that there is a need to restrict the volume of sleeping tablets that are sold because of the danger either deliberately or by misadventure of an overdose. As the drug committee must know, the dosage is prescribed to try to save people against their own misadventure.

I think I should not remain on my feet without acknowledging that Australia is magnificently served by 2 committees. The first is the Drug Evaluation Committee which is headed by Sir William Morrow. There stands no greater physician in this country today and no greater man. Sir William Morrow is supported in his tasks by Iris colleagues who serve on the Committee. I would look with respect at their views, as we did in respect of imipramine and the Committee's very fast reaction to warnings about that drug. We have also the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee which evaluates the drugs in these situations. I say those things primarily in passing as they are not the major points.

I want to make one other reference to cannabis. It is said that we know very little about it, but there are a number of things that we do know and now Senator Turnbull, as a medical practitioner, has said quite clearly that it is known quite positively to reduce concentration and to disturb balance. 'But', he said, 'so does .alcohol'. One does not make a good case out of a bad law. If we knew those 2 things and those 2 things only, would we legalise it? But we know something else. We know profoundly that wherever there is a long term ingestion of marihuana the motiva tion of the individual is lowered considerably. I ^qualify that by .saying that the people who are doing this may well be of low motivation in the first place. Therefore, all sorts of qualifications can be made. But we know a further thing. In these circumstances of drug taking it is possible to produce hallucinations. A person under this influence at the wheel of a car could not be a greater potential murderer. No greater potential for murder exists than putting a motor vehicle into the hands of a person who has ingested, particularly the resin of cannabis. This is the thing that we are asked to treat lightly.

Again, it has been said by Senator Turnbull that the various recommendations in this report have not been adopted or haw been ignored. I imagine that .Senator Marriott will deal wilh that point. He will speak with greater skill and expertise than I. I believe that the reverse is the truth. In fact, we have taken .a lot of action im relation to this. I leave that matter Aside for a moment because I want to put this proposition: Even if we invoke every recommendation contained in this excellent report, in my view it win not be enough. I think that the members of the Committee would agree with this. Senator Turnbull has said that we have not acted fast enough to label cigarette packets and in other fields. I have made my position clear in this chamber. I acknowledge the danger of excessive tobacco smoking. I believe that whatever we do in labelling and providing health warnings - both moves have my blessing - will be the merest palliative because the human being imbibes these things from deeper motives than those we will alter by advertising. Indeed, if this is to .be done the argument must be stretched into the other fields.


Senator Gair - That is the American experience.


Senator CARRICK - As Senator Gair says, that is the American experience. Equally, such labelling should be applied to all alcohol and sugar. If doctors believe in their cholesterol theory they should come forward and say that those who eat the Australian breakfast of fried eggs and bacon, milk coffee and toast with butter and jam could not, on the cholesterol theory, be running a greater risk. But do they come forward? I stand in the long line of dairy farmers who do not support this theory. I am saying merely that these kinds of things should be taken into account.

But that is not why I rose to speak. Having commended the report, 1 say that the causation of drug ingestion is far deeper than human knowledge of it extends at this moment. I believe that, even though there appears to be merit in Senator Murphy's suggestion that we should refer this matter to 2 Senate committees and give them a watching brief, this would not scratch the surface of the situation. It appears to me that throughout human history we have been obsessed with the material sciences. Since man's emergence, he has fought for his material security; he has fought to overcome his bodily epidemic and endemic diseases; and he has concentrated the whole of his attention on the business of material and physical existence without giving any real thought at all to the whole purpose of living.


Senator Murphy - That cannot be right. Human history shows the intention to be the other way. In such fields as religion and philosophy the preponderance of human thought has been the other way.


Senator CARRICK - I am very happy to have Senator Murphy's side comments on this matter. Nevertheless, the number of philosophers who have shared a barrel or a candle with Senator Murphy in our history has been few. The struggle of history has been for material survival. I take my argument further: To this day in every one of our tertiary institutions there is a predominance of material science and a serious minority - even a withdrawal - of the humanities. Let people who doubt that recite to me the names of the great philosophers and great political scientists we are producing in this country at the present time. I point out to Senator Murphy that this is a serious matter. I know and respect his preoccupation with material science. I believe that he had an earlier educational background in that field. Nevertheless, the history of the world today shows that it is, as the Americans describe it, a post-sputnik world. It is concentrating on how to get bigger and better missiles into the heavens and not upon the business of living. It seems to me that, if man wants to solve these problems of drug ingestion and obsession with drug taking, he has to look to the business of living rather than of earning a living; he has to look to the kind of society in which he wants to live without opting out of it. If I touch nowhere else the soft spot of this subject, I state now that the simple fact of the matter is that the person who takes drugs is withdrawing; he is escaping or opting out. It is a charge on every honourable senator and every Australian to ask: 'Why is it that we have a society from which people want to run away?' This is the nub of the reason why we have drug taking.


Senator Cavanagh - Would you say that it was a materialist concept?


Senator CARRICK - I think that we have been too preoccupied with materialism. I have said that a number of times. I think that man cannot live by bread alone. I do not say that in an over-biblical sense. I think that man has to find out how to motivate positively his spiritual, moral and ethical qualities, his hungers and his dissatisfactions in order to go forward. In other words, if he is to be led out of withdrawal, he has to have positive hungers which are forward hungers.


Senator Cavanagh - As a party, what are you doing to realise that aim?


Senator CARRICK - I think the honourable senator for that interjection. I appreciate it. I have gone on record before as saying this: The 2 greatest things that can be done in relation to this problem in the wider sense are, firstly, in parallel with the Academy of Science presently existing, to set up an academy of human science and, secondly, to recognise that it is high time we drew together all the discipline of man. I invite the Senate to endorse this view if it agrees with it. We have an Academy of Science.


Senator Murphy - I endorse it. I agree completely with you. We should have a corresponding body to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, one dealing with the social sciences.


Senator CARRICK - Sure. I believe that what we are talking about now - not because I am mouthing it but because it is the nub of the debate - is the core of the reason for Parliament. We ought to be here for people and not for things. Therefore, I say that as a Senate, if honourable senators agree with me, we should work towards the establishment of an academy of human science. I respect the sincerity of the honourable gentlemen opposite who have spoken in this debate. I believe that they have spoken sincerely and with honest motives. I will trade punches at other times.

I am asked what we are doing about it. Honourable senators have heard me ask in the chamber whether we would encourage Sir John Crawford of the Australian National University and the vice-chancellors of all other universities to set up a each university in Australia a faculty of human science drawing together man as the study. The synthesis of man and not the analysis of his left toe nail is the key to this situation. We have been too busy fragmenting man and looking for palliatives for the pimple on his nose to realise that our job in life is to synthesise man. That is the key to this debate.


Senator Murphy - The universities have forgotten their role.


Senator CARRICK - They have forgotten their role. I put to the Senate my proposal for an academy of human science. I put to the Senate and plead with it to go along with me that in every university we should introduce the study of man - that is, whole man - as a primary discipline, and study primary man in his spiritual qualities as well as his material qualities. Having said that, as a third plank, I draw attention to the fact - again, honourable senators have heard me say this here before - that the characteristic of human morbidity and of human sickness in the past 50 years has been the growth of illness which has been psychosomatic in its causation, that is. stress induced. No matter how we might argue on either side of this table about a national health scheme, that national health scheme will fail and we will do harm to man if we merely finance a system which brings more and more people with stress crippling diseases into the waiting rooms of general practitioners. So the next thing that we need to do is to initiate an Australia-wide study into the psychosomatic illnesses. There are the 3 situations.


Senator Murphy - Is the honourable senator aware that it is Australian Labor Party policy that there be established a body similar to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to conduct research into the social sciences?


Senator CARRICK - I am not, but I am delighted to hear that. Let nobody think that I disagree with the Australian Labor Party on every one of the planks of its policy. I do not. There are many on which I disagree profoundly. On some, I share the view. I am not sure that what I seek is a body of the CSIRO kind, but I go along with the proposal. If I can, I would like to spell out what I think is the real challenge. Although we are looking at man, we are looking at man and his ingestion of drugs to opt out or to escape. Throughout the whole world we see this in every ideological system. So, do not let any of us be talking ideology. This problem is common to the Russians and to the Chinese. Will honourable senators forgive me this remark and not think that I am partisan on this matter, but I wish that something could be done to stop the drug traffic from countries such as China and Burma and similar areas of the world, whence the great flood of narcotics comes at this moment. We ought to put our ideologies aside when we are dealing with this problem because we are dealing with the slaughter of human lives.

The fact is that in every country of the world, whatever ideology may be followed, this attitude of man, finding that society is failing him and seeking to look within himself and seeking to become introverted is characteristic. Why is this? The situation as to why this is so is fascinating. It is far more so today. May I put this situation to the Senate: I think that we ourselves are unwittingly crippling the new generations. I put the proposition - and I think that Senator Murphy half went along with it - that man had had from his emergence until the last generation primary struggles to survive materially and to keep a healthy body. Indeed, funnily enough, it is easier to live in hard times than it is to live in easy times. It is easier to live when one's goals are clear and when the struggle and the glide paths are there than it is when things are blurred. Man had a reason to stick together as a family man, had a reason to combine his income, and had a reason to study because he wanted a full tummy; a healthy body, a clothed body and. shelter; In the space; of a generation' or so,, we have found the: techniques, to resolve these things. True, there are enormous inequalities that we must, overcome, but if we never become one ounce more clever in the faculties of science than we are now, we can get, in Sir Arthur Salter's words, every Hottentot living like a millionaire. We do not need one ounce more material science.


Senator Murphy - I do not agree with the honourable senator.


Senator CARRICK - We will hope for a bit more anyhow, to help us along. If indeed it has been said that the last enemy is death, the second last enemy is human conflict, the fact that man has not learnt to live side by side with man, to recognise the right of the other fellow to be different and yet to give him the freedom to be different. This is the purpose of living.







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