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Wednesday, 9 October 1985
Page: 906


Senator PETER RAE —by leave-Mr Cleary, the Tasmanian Minister for Health, at the Ministerial Committee on Drug Strategy earlier this year, was able to demonstrate that Tasmania has in fact led the way with what it has already done legislatively in providing a framework to combat the problem to which reference was made. I refer to the problem of drugs and drug users in Australia, the need for counselling and the Commonwealth's offer to provide some funds, to be matched by the States, for that work. Tasmania is already in front of all the other States in taking this action. Tasmania does not suffer from the same type and nature of drug pushing that the other States do. There are no relatively simple, straightforward or most obvious areas of concern in Tasmania such as those which exist particularly in Melbourne and Sydney and in certain parts of Queensland. So it was necessary to try to get maximum benefit from any money which would come from the Commonwealth and what had to be provided by the State; to get value for money, not to have it spent on a bureaucracy but, rather, to ensure that voluntary organisations would provide the type of service which was necessary.

When Mr Cleary admitted recently that he had been slow, what he was saying was that he was slow because he had been thorough in ensuring that the action taken to spend the money, to combat the problem, would fit in with what was already Tasmania's leading position in relation to the legislation and would ensure that there was a co-operative approach through all of the voluntary organisations rather than simply a spending of money through creating a greater bureaucracy. The criticism that has been made comes from the Government which has been cutting funds to Tasmania and from a party in Tasmania which wants to decriminalise marihuana. I leave those thoughts with people. I conclude by saying that Tasmania has done an excellent, thorough job, and the Minister will have his submission ready for the ministerial conference which is due to take place later this month.