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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21721

Mr CADMAN (1:43 PM) —by leave—I only have a couple of minutes, but I need to point out to the House that 31 million needles were distributed last year at a cost of $22 million to the Australian public. The recent report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs made a number of recommendations on the needle exchange program. They are sensible recommendations, because it was not possible for that committee to gain adequate information about this program. We found that we were spending a lot of money on the exchange program. We were uncertain what the needles were being used for and where they were finishing up. It seemed that, rather than an exchange program, it was a needle distribution program—there were just so many going out.

A recommendation of that committee was that a complete evaluation of the needle and syringe program be undertaken by the Australian National Audit Office. It said that the issues that could be assessed were the distribution, the adequacy of exchange and accountability and the associated education and counselling programs that could be linked to the exchange program, particularly for hep C sufferers. I commend that recommendation to the House.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 1.45 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 106A. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.