Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — Welcome back to everyone. I would like to thank the Parliament for the opportunity I had over this break to travel with the Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee. We were able to visit Portugal, Switzerland, the UK, Canada and the US to learn how other jurisdictions are dealing with a whole range of issues around illicit drugs and prescription drugs. We got the opportunity to meet with people at the World Health Organization and the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
A particular highlight for me was the fact that for the first time a committee travelled with a police officer. We were lucky to have Assistant Commissioner Rick Nugent travelling with us. It gave us great entree into police services overseas. We had some very candid conversations with New Scotland Yard, the Vancouver police and the Portuguese police, the Lisbon police in particular. They all stated that drug use is a health issue and should not be treated as a criminal issue. I really reflect on that in this week, Homelessness Week, where we see the effects of drug use and mental health in homelessness. This was reiterated to us particularly in Vancouver where they are losing four people a day to opioid overdoses and they say that homelessness is one of the big factors in that.
Finally, I am very pleased to see the Deputy President here today and that he made it safely back to Australia. I was very disappointed that he was not able to complete the trip with us and I really look forward to hearing an explanation and an apology.