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Thursday, 19 October 2017
Page: 8001

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE (South Australia) (10:26): I rise to indicate the Nick Xenophon Team's support for this bill. At the outset, I wish to note that NXT has always enjoyed a very constructive working relationship with the Minister for Health, and we expect that this will continue.

However, respectfully, I think in this instance the government ought to be doing more than it is. When the disallowance motion to which this bill relates was dealt with in June of this year, the minister provided NXT with a list of actions the government was prepared to take to ensure faster and more streamlined access to medicinal cannabis for terminally ill patients in particular. NXT acknowledges the government has made some progress in relation to the actions and undertakings, but there is still a long way to go. The longer we wait for the government to act, the longer we prolong the suffering of terminally ill patients.

This bill sends a very strong message to the government that we cannot continue to allow terminally ill patients to suffer unnecessarily. The Special Access Scheme category A is used for terminally ill patients for whom other treatments have failed. This bill does not broaden the scope of patients who would have access to medicinal cannabis under category A; nor does it weaken that regulatory framework. But it does seek to ensure that Australian medicinal cannabis and imported medicinal cannabis is available to those who need it most.