Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — I rise to congratulate the think tank Australia21 on their powerful report launched on Monday, Can Australia Respond to Drugs More Effectively and Safely?. Drug-related deaths, diseases, injuries, crimes and social costs continue to rise despite more than 80 000 arrests in Australia each year. Now four former police commissioners and assistant commissioners, two former heads of corrective services, a former Supreme Court judge and a former Director of Public Prosecutions have made history by putting their names to a report that says it is time for decriminalisation.
The report was launched by Jeff Kennett, a former Liberal Premier of Victoria, and Bob Carr, a former federal Labor foreign affairs minister and a former Premier of New South Wales. This report does something that has never been done before: it tables solutions backed by the very people who were enforcing drug laws until recently. It comes out of an unprecedented round table convened by Mick Palmer, who has served as commissioner of both the Australian Federal Police and the Northern Territory police.
The Australia21 report makes 13 key recommendations. Chief amongst those is its call for an approach that distinguishes between high-end production and trafficking on the one hand and personal use and possession on the other. It does not recommend open slather legalisation of all drugs. Instead it supports incremental robustly evaluated steps towards a national policy of decriminalisation. I commend the contributors for their important work and encourage MPs to read this groundbreaking work.