Parliament: Speeches on Bills

Controlled Substances (Offences Relating To Instructions) Amendment Bill

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I wish to place very briefly on the record some of my concerns around this bill, although I am likely to support it. I would like to start by thanking the Hon. Ann Bressington for her contribution the other day and to say that I largely agree with her sentiments.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: We’re on track. I understand that the government has presented this bill under the guise of being tough on drugs and in closing loopholes in the existing legislation, but as the Hon. Ms Bressington and the Hon. Mr Wade have pointed out, there are questions around exactly what loopholes they are talking about. The clarifications which have been made around the selling, supply and possession of instructions for drug manufacture are, in my opinion, mostly redundant.

These amendments give lip service to the reality that the internet makes instructions for drug cultivation and manufacture readily available but does not really address this issue because, as we all know, the law does not have the power to hold anyone outside its jurisdiction accountable and much of the instructions offered on the internet are offered by international sources or sources that are untraceable.

It seems to me that there is a small amount of value in this bill in terms of the amendments made by the opposition in the lower house, particularly in terms of clarifications relating to the supply of precursors, so I would like to acknowledge the opposition’s efforts in this area. Beyond that provision, this bill represents for me another sad indicator of our government’s unwillingness to understand the realities about drugs in South Australia. It refuses to consider what policies might lead to the prevention of drug addiction. It is uninterested in solutions which might require a move away from the silo mentality currently adopted by departments and it is unreceptive to the idea of harm minimisation.

Effectively, when it comes to drug policy, this government is living in the mid-1980s. Perhaps it is time to step into the time capsule and read some of the research around drug dependency that has been conducted in the last 20-odd years. Then maybe we can pursue some more sensible policies which are not just based around increasing and spreading punitive measures. That kind of legislation would be something that I could support with some enthusiasm. Instead, we have this current bill which will get my vote, but that is mostly because it seems to me that generally there is no harm in providing consistency across acts. I look forward to the opportunity to sink my teeth into some real drug legislation in the future.