Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Page: 1457


Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (15:29): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Attorney-General (Senator Brandis) to a question without notice asked by Senator Lambie today relating to policies concerning illicit drugs.

Today I gave Attorney-General Brandis notice of my questions without notice regarding law changes to tackle ice addiction. I wanted to give him sufficient time to properly consider his answers and think about my argument for giving Australian parents, along with their family doctors, the right to involuntarily detox their children should those young people became addicted to ice. I am encouraged that he has given a commitment to consider my proposal carefully, and I will follow that up with a letter and a request for meetings. However, I am disappointed that, for the majority of his answers, he chose to read a prepared script which boasted about his government's so-called achievements. And I am very disappointed that, on my third question, he deliberately twisted his answer to give the impression that I was seeking his support to change the laws relating to drug dealers. While I am happy to talk about that issue as well, at a later date, all my questions clearly addressed the fact that Australian parents and their family doctors do not have the right, under existing state and federal laws, to involuntarily detox their children should they become addicted to ice.

As soon as a legally trained person hears the words 'involuntary treatment', an alarm bell goes off in their poor little head and they reach for a copy of the UN human rights charter. Lawyers have become so lost in their fight to protect the UN human rights charter that they forget the right of parents and medical professionals to protect children from the effects of a highly dangerous and addictive drug the likes of which we have never seen before. Indeed, very few lawyers will acknowledge that, under our existing state laws, there are provisions for involuntary medical treatment for patients suffering from severe mental health illnesses. They are called 'involuntary mental health orders'—people deemed by qualified medical professionals to be suffering from a mental health injury, and who are a danger to themselves and others, can be taken by the authorities to a medical facility for compulsory mental health treatment. This can all take place within the law and without breaching any fundamental UN human rights.

So the point of my questioning to the Attorney-General this afternoon was to remind him, Labor, Greens and crossbench senators that an important legal precedent has already been established that allows involuntary medical treatment for people who are not in control of their actions and may be a danger to themselves, and certainly a danger to others. I think it is fair to compare the actions and symptoms of someone addicted to ice to the actions and symptoms of someone who may be subject to existing involuntary mental health orders.

I have only my personal experiences and feedback from hundreds and thousands of concerned Australians to go by. I am not medically trained but I do know that, when someone is addicted to and under the influence of ice, they are certainly not themselves; they are not sane; I am not talking to a loved one anymore; all I am doing is talking to a drug. When you are trying to reason with an unreasonable, unpredictable, powerful and dangerous thing, you are trying to influence a person whose loving, caring self has gone missing; it is no longer there. They are replaced by a being who will do and say anything to feed an insatiable addiction the likes of which, I argue, we have never seen before. So if our laws allow medical professionals to order involuntary mental health treatment for patients who suffer from damaged mental health and are subject to dangerous, uncontrollable and unpredictable behaviour, why can't those same laws and medical process apply to our children, our most vulnerable and precious, who become addicted to ice?

Even with all the publicity, average Australians and politicians still do not understand how addictive ice really is. This failure to understand how addictive ice is has led to a situation where we do not have enough rehabilitation services or facilities and we do not have strong enough laws to allow for early intervention. So even if we could, by some miracle, deliver enough affordable rehab beds for all of Australia's ice-addicted children, under the current laws, if those ice-addicted children said they did not want to remain in rehab, they can just walk straight back out the front door. So the solution is to provide, firstly, affordable rehab beds; and, secondly, law changes which give parents the right to place their drug-addicted children in involuntary detox.

Question agreed to.