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

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 17 August 1972
Page: 175

Senator GUILFOYLE (Victoria) - I wish to use this opportunity to make brief comments on the report which is the subject of this discussion. I commend the excellence of the report and those members of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse who served together in its preparation. My first usage of the report was as an impromptu replacement speaker for someone very much more expert than I, on this subject. I found in the week after the release of the report and my attaining it quite quickly that it was a source of very valuable information for speaking to a socially concerned women's group which at that time had expressed some interest in becoming more informed on the subject. The report was so readable in its presentation and it was so commendable in its recommendations that I found it to be a. very valuable source of material for the purpose for which I used it.

I think, too, that the report is a very sincere object lesson in the way in which honourable senators can work together and develop mutual, respect as colleagues. Indeed, on reading some of the speeches which were made at the time the report was presented, I was interested to see that a former honourable senator commended the support and assistance which had been given to him personally by Senator Cavanagh. To see such comments being expressed gives us a very real understanding of the work we do as honourable senators in using expert opinion in the community from which to draw our evidence and to which we apply ourselves as a group of concerned people who are here to serve not only the Parliament but also the individuals whom we represent. So this report has my commendation.

My comments on the report relate to 2 matters which were the subject of recommendation. Firstly, I want to speak about drug trafficking and the Committee's recommendation that steps should be taken to strengthen the collaboration between existing Australian and international law enforcement agencies. It was of interest to me that a Bill was introduced last year which sought to increase the penalty for drug trafficking to 10 years' imprisonment and/ or a $4,000 fine. It is of interest that there are uniform laws throughout the Commonwealth for the enforcement of abuses in the area of drug trafficking. Perhaps as a result of the activities of the National Standing Control Committee on Drugs of Dependence, in the past 2 years in particular, a great deal more thought has been given to the problem of drug trafficking. Indeed, last year there was a conference in Canberra of 13 South East Asian countries which exchanged and discussed drug intelligence. Such international co-operation is essential if, as one world, we are to defeat this problem.

The fact that drug trafficking is a criminal activity which is harder to detect than most other criminal activities would bc realised quite easily if we were to understand that in this activity there is rarely someone who brings forward a complaint; it is something which has to be detected. I believe that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) has publicly acknowledged that he realises that only a limited proportion of the drug trafficking is being detected and that therefore enforcement of the penalties I have mentioned has had a somewhat limited effect. So it is that in the area of drug trafficking we would hope for more international co-operation and for an acknowledgment by Australia that we have an international responsibility. Whatever recommendations of the Committee are adopted I believe that the weapon of international co-operation is one which must be used a little more than we may feel it is at the moment.

The other area about which I wish to speak is the area of education. I have mentioned the limits that there are to detection and the deterrents which can be applied. Therefore, if we are to look constructively to the future it is to seek an effective education programme for the community that we must turn. There is a drug education sub-committee of the National Standing Control Committee on Drugs of Dependence. I realise that it is a permanent standing committee, that it has an education programme in conjunction with the Department of Health and the State bodies and that it has been a source of preparation of literature, films and the sorts of releases that form part of a basic education programme; yet 1 wonder whether the structure of that standing committee enables it to encompass all the recommendations made in this report to the Senate on drugs. The report expresses the hope that there will be established a national education council, representative of the Commonwealth and the States, and that its membership will be drawn from a variety of disciplines, including education, medicine, social health, the legal profession, social workers and youth leaders.

I consider that the broadest base would be required for an education committee which had to give continuing service to a developing problem. If we give recognition to the thought expressed in the Committee's report that drug dependency is a disease or illness which affects all age groups, we will perhaps realise that any committee which purported to educate would need to have the broadest opportunities to seek and apply its material. As someone who has had some activity in the Young Women's Christian Association and who knows how that Association and its corresponding organisation, the Young Men's Christian Association, work in serving the youth of our community, I realise that youth workers, who are close to the people in the relevant age group, have much to contribute in the way of giving information, developing education programmes and in actually taking these programmes to the people who can best use them. Drug dependency, with its effect on all ages, provides different forms of expression. Senator Carrick has already expressed some thoughts on that. I propose to express the thought that drug dependency may be an escape for the youth of our nation 'because some of the young people live in a psychedelic world that is perhaps somewhat beyond our understanding. They hold in their hands an awareness of our inconsistencies in our handling of the social needs about which they feel so sincerely. They, too, hold in their hands the intelligent handling of our environment in the future. They show the magnificence of their open minds to all of the problems of the world and the future. So I feel that the youth of the nation should be educated not to use the escape of drugs but rather to apply all of those qualities with which they are so endowed for the future benefit of Australia and one world. We think of another age group and realise that drug dependency is a consolation to that species of man called woman, some of whom find intolerable burdens and pressures in social isolation and some of whom do not find personal fulfilment in their present role in our society. For this particular species of man there is a dependence on some drugs, and an education programme for that part of our society would need to be very different from that which would be addressed to youth with all its colour and vibrancy. Thus I would hope that the education council, which I should like to see formed, would have some application to members of that special group of the community who do need a different application of the educational processes to develop their intelligence as to their usage and dependency on drugs. Of course, to man himself it has become used as a support; to man who finds himself in a harshly competitive world which is so critical of the values which he thought were important and the priorities which he has determined and which have now been rejected by so many people in society. Here again lies a new need for education for this group.

So I return to my point about the national education council. I would hope that as we are today considering the excellent report of the Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse, we are considering also the best ways and means of educating the Australian community at all levels in all age groups so that the information which we have and the intelligence which we may seek internationally and nationally can toe promulgated to all these corners of society in order that they may find the best use for some of the things that have been developed for them in this somewhat materialistic society.

The thoughts expressed by both Senator Carrick and Senator Murphy on social science broadly covered much of what is the subject of this report. The debate today has made us very thoughtful of our responsibilities to one another and by using this day when we address ourselves to this problem in our society, I believe that we are serving those whom we represent in this place. I have pleasure in supporting the amendment moved by Senator Murphy, for if we are to give continuing oversight to these aspects and to recommend from time to time what further measures might be taken to implement the recommendation, we are not only keeping before the Parliament the subject which was so freely pursued and on which the recommendations were based, but I would hope that we are also giving indirectly some public awareness of our consideration of this matter, our continuing oversight of it. I would hope that the recommendations which ensue would be valuable and constructive so that we could cover the areas which I have isolated as those on which I wished to speak; that is, drug trafficking and the education of our people. I commend the amendment to the Senate and I give my strongest support to any developments which can be undertaken toy the Senate or by the Parliament as a whole on this subject.

Senator Gair - I thought you would have acknowledged your thanks to the DLP for having had this Committee set up.

Suggest corrections