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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3044

Mr Ian Robinson (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - This Bill is of tremendous importance to the nation. I commend the Government for introducing it. It is a consequence of deliberations between Ministers from the respective States and the Federal Minister. It has been a matter of grave concern to all thinking Australians that the involvement of people in this country in high-powered trafficking in drugs has drawn us into the net of a world wide problem, and we of course regard this as a very serious imposition particularly on young people. It is essential that the penalties that applied in 1971 be updated. The difference between $4,000 and $100,000 and the increase in the comparatively light maximum imprisonment deterrent to 25 years were designed following careful consideration by State and Federal Ministers to bring about the required deterrent against the pusher. It is essential that this be done and I am sure that the action of the Government will be endorsed by the vast majority of the Australian people.

The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) did say that he doubted whether it would solve anything and he said that it would not really stop the problem. I remind him that this has not been the experience in other countries and I am sure that it will not be the experience here. Certainly the ramifications of the problem of drugs are very wide and whatever can be done by research, inquiries, royal commissions and the like should be done, but notwithstanding that we need to be vigilant. It is vital that this legislation in the dying hours of this Parliament should get on to the statute book. It is important that the Government should give a lead in the matter of deterrent penalties and punishment. There is no alternative if we are to toughen up on the people who are the exploiters in this field. I strongly support the measure.

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