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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 2064

Senator MAUNSELL (Queensland) - The Australian Country Party welcomes this Bill and will give it its wholehearted support. As was mentioned by Senator Marriott, thus Bill implements a recommendation that was made by the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. There is no doubt from the evidence received by the Committee that in the past there has been a tendency by the public in general to treat the illnesses of alcoholism and drug dependence more or less as criminal offences. But people who are dependent on alcohol and who cannot help themselves are suffering from an illness and must be given treatment which will return them to a normal life. The treatment of alcoholics and drug dependent people in the past has been left in the hands of police officers. People suffering from these illnesses have gone through the courts and then have been palmed off either to gaols or institutions, many of which do not have the personal interests of these people at heart. In fact, many of these places do not have much interest in these people at all.

The Committee discovered that many alcoholics and drug dependent people went to a lot of voluntary organisations made up of people who understood the problem involved and endeavoured to help these people. However, we were told that unfortunately these organisations did not have access to finance to enable them to carry out the great job that they were doing. That is why I am pleased to see that voluntary organisations will be given consideration in this Bill. I believe that we must step up our education of the general public that alcoholism and drug dependence are illnesses. We have to make the general public aware that these people have to be given the type of care, kindness and devotion by the people who understand the problem and who care for them that will enable them to live a normal life in the community. As Senator Marriott pointed out, there was a long debate on this Bill in the other place. We are all very pleased to see the Government introduce this measure and, as I said at the outset, the Country Party gives the legislation its whole support.

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