Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (10:07:32) — Last week I was very pleased to host Australia21, a think tank for the public good, here in this house. As a result of this round table — which obviously was not a round table because this house does not have round tables; we are far too adversarial for that — they issued a joint statement this week. It was signed by representatives of 34 organisations, including doctors, academics, sociologists and many fine ex-police officers as well. It states:
We the undersigned call on Australia s federal, state and territory governments to treat drug use primarily as a health and social issue and to remove criminal sanctions for personal use and possession.
We make this call because our own professional experience supports overwhelming evidence that current Australian drug laws, although well intentioned, create and/or worsen a wide range of health and social harms. There are complex two-way interactions between the punitive approach to drug use and problems including poverty, social disadvantage, unemployment, homelessness, family violence, child protection interventions, mental illness and suicide. Poor drug policy also leads to further crime. The human and financial costs of the negative impacts of the current drug laws are borne not just by drug users but by their families and communities and the nation as a whole.
We have agreed to work together to improve public awareness of … the negative impacts of the current drug laws and the way they are interpreted and implemented, and … the real and tangible health and social benefits of drug law reform.