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Tuesday, 22 October 1974
Page: 1839


Senator KENNETH ANDERSON (NEW SOUTH WALES) - 1 direct my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise and Attorney-General. Yesterday in the Wollongong courts a man was convicted of having a significant amount of heroin in his possession. In that State court he received a penalty of 2 years imprisonment with possible parole after 12 months. To me that is almost an unbelievable minimum sentence for such a wicked, shameful offence. I use those words deliberately in relation to heroin. I know that the Minister has spoken on this subject before. Is any attempt being made to establish uniformity with the States in relation to penalties for drug peddling? There is no redemption from heroin addiction, lt is a frightening thing if the sentence awarded at Wollongong is to be the order of punishment for heroin trafficking.


Senator MURPHY -I think the honourable senator knows my views on the matter of heroin and other drugs which are destructive to humans. The courts ultimately have to administer the laws against drug trafficking and sentences vary in individual cases. I indicated to the Senate previously that in respect of heroin trafficking I had taken the course of sending counsel to inform the courts by appropriate evidence of the prevalence of the offence and to adduce evidence from experts such as pharmacologists on the characteristics and deleterious effects of the drugs. I think it has been useful and I intend to continue the practice. These cases are far more important than many other cases which come before the courts.

I cannot express any view on the particular case referred to by the honourable senator, but as to uniformity of penalties he will be aware that apart from the Single Convention on Narcotics which is implemented in our Narcotic Drugs Act there is also the Psychotropic Convention which was arrived at in Vienna a year or two ago. I have had extensive work done on legislation which would bring that convention into operation in the drugs of dependence field and also to widen the scope of the Narcotic Drugs Act. This may be one way of bringing about uniformity. I certainly would not like to see the serious cases of hard drugs being dealt with in any light manner. I do not think anyone would. I will do what I can.







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