Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:18:48) — I move:
That the Council take note of the report.
In doing so, I would like to recognise that this is a very significant report in weight but also in the thoughtfulness and the work that was done here. I do attest that this is probably one of the most comprehensive parliamentary reports ever undertaken into drug policy and drug legislation in Victoria, possibly in the nation — nearly 600 pages, 49 recommendations and, for the benefit of many, an abbreviated summary book of just 50 pages.
I am very pleased with the depth and the breadth of the analysis that was undertaken by this committee, and obviously this would not have been possible without the extraordinary staff, their dedication and their eye for detail. Their research skills are really to be commended. I thank the executive officer, Yuki Simmonds; researchers Raylene D’Cruz and Peter Johnston; and the administrative officer, Christianne Andonovski.
The key objective of this committee was to investigate the effectiveness of drug control laws and procedures in minimising drug-related harms and to identify approaches to drug law reform that could be adopted into Victorian law — and I do not think any of us would disagree with that. We hear constantly that we cannot arrest our way out of the drug issues, yet in my opinion we continue to try. It is time for a real paradigm shift, and I think this report provides a great pathway for that. It reflects the evidence that we received from the many peak organisations and the views of the experts and families who gave evidence to our committee. The committee received 230 submissions, had nine days of public hearings and many site visits as well as the opportunity to travel overseas to see how other jurisdictions were adopting new approaches to drug policy and dealing with the harms of drug use. We travelled to Geneva, Lisbon, London, Vancouver, Denver, Sacramento and Wellington.
This week we will hear much negative coverage about politicians, and no doubt there will be much bloodletting in this place, but for me this report exemplifies what we are here for. While I would have liked this report to have gone a bit further and have been bolder, the committee worked collaboratively, and I thank Mr Gepp and Mr Eideh in this house and Mr Howard, Mr Thompson, Mr Dixon, Ms Suleyman and Mr Tilley in the Assembly for their thoughtfulness and true collaboration in delivering what I consider a useful report. The overseas travel was unique because the police came with us, so we had this great opportunity to meet with law enforcement around the world to discuss approaches around better law enforcement and better drug policy, and that is reflected in this report.
In the minute or so that I have got left I would like to mention that there are 49 recommendations here, and I think they are a root-and-branch, systematic approach to how we can improve the lives of Victorians and how we can change the approach that we take to drugs, which is not working. We are arresting more and more people. More and more people are dying due to drug overdoses, so we need to change and we need to shift our focus. One of the main recommendations — and I think it is a really fulsome recommendation — is to add to the three pillars that we have always operated under. To those pillars of harm minimisation, supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction, this report recommends that we take on a fourth pillar of treatment — that we separate treatment. I do not think anyone in our community would deny the need for us as a government and as a Parliament to focus on that. We also want to see codification of diversion; some kids get arrested and charged with a small possession while other kids do not. Let us not forget that it is young people who are being arrested under our current drug laws; it is not you or me. This is a war on our children.
I thank all those involved in this report, and I hope that we will get a bipartisan approach to taking a new and smarter approach to drugs in our society. I commend this report.