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Wednesday, 11 April 1973
Page: 1356

Mr CHIPP (Hotham) --! rise to speak briefly about the attitude of the courts of this country to drug pedlars. In 11 years in this Parliament I have spoken only twice in the adjournment debate. I rise tonight because 1 feel so strongly about this situation. This Parliament and every other Parliament in this nation, whether they are Liberal, Labor or Country Party dominated, have agreed that drug pedlars - I am not talking about the user pedlars; 1 am talking about drug pedlars - should be liable to a maximum penalty of 10 years gaol. I leave aside those people who are addicts. They are to be pitied and they should be treated. I am now talking about pushers or pedlars. The Parliament, with the unanimous support of members of the Australian Labor Party, when we were in Government agreed that there should be a 10-year gaol sentence. I have referred to the courts before. When I was the Minister for Customs and Excise over 2 years there were 150 prosecutions for drug peddling and the average sentence imposed by judges and magistrates was 15.2 months. I have stated on the floor of this Parliament that that kind of attitude by the courts passes my comprehension, because with that weak gutted attitude of the courts the drug pusher laughs all the way to the bank.

What has made me rise in anger tonight is an issue which I feel reluctant to raise because I have respect for the conventions of this Parliament and I do not want to refer to something which is sub judice. Therefore I will cloud what 1 have to say so as not to offend that convention. I am relying on a newspaper report, some of which 1 have substantiated.

Recently - if I could put it that way, in a court in this country a man, if I may call him that, was convicted of selling the drug lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD - more than 100 microdot tablets - for a sum of several hundred dollars. LSD is a drug that terrifies me. It is a drug that can induce in people who take it a recurrent psychosis months after taking it, without their taking it again. A person can be cast into a hallucinogenic state, causing him to jump off a high building in the belief that he is a bird or an aeroplane. The effects are devastating.

The man to whom I referred was convicted of selling this drug. The magistrate used such words as: 'People like you are filth', 'You should be put away' and 'You are filth in the community'. Then, in a great gesture of acceding to justice and the wishes of this Parliament and the wishes of every State Parliament in this nation, he sentenced this creature to 12 months gaol, to serve a minimum of 2 months. This means that after a period of 8 weeks this man. who has made a fortune in peddling and preying on the depravities of young unsuspecting Australians, will be free and laughing all the way to the bank. Sometimes in this Parliament we hear about deterrents. One wonders at the capabilities of a man such as this magistrate to sit on the bench in a court in this nation. Such a sentence and such an attitude pass my comprehension.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! It being 1 1 o'clock, in accordance with the order of the House the House stands adjourned till 10 a.m. on Thursday, 12th April 1973.

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