Resumed from 22 June.
HON MICHAEL MISCHIN (North Metropolitan — Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [ 11.27 am ]: I rise as the lead speaker for the opposition on the Misuse of Drugs Amendment (Methylamphetamine Offences) Bill 2017. The opposition will support the bill. It is allegedly a component of what was described during the election campaign by the now Minister for Police as the government’s “ overarching methamphetamine action plan ”. Plainly, the government has a mandate to do what, in broad terms, this bill plans to do, and the idea of increasing the maximum sentence available under the Misuse of Drugs Act for those who traffic in methamphetamine is in accordance with the Liberal Party’s policy in the lead-up to the last election, so the opposition will support the bill.
[speeches and comments of various members]
HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [ 2.57 pm ]: I rise to speak on behalf of t he Greens on the Misuse of Drugs Amendment (Methylamphetamine Offences) Bill 2017. As a mental health advocate and someone who has worked particularly closely with people who have co-occurring mental health and alcohol and other drug issues, I loathe the manufacturing of drugs and those people who choose to make a profit from distributing them. They basically peddle in misery and take advantage of people who are often very unwell with a background of trauma. Those people are better placed for getting support within a well-funded mental health system, but for a range of personal circumstances find themselves caught in the cycle of drug addiction. A shared aim of everyone in this place is to make it as unappealing as possible for people to make the life choice to make money out of drug trafficking. I acknowledge that general deterrence is a paramount consideration when considering drug trafficking penalties.
The Greens, like the alcohol and other drugs sector, support a tough approach to drug traffickers and, particularly, high-end drug dealers. We acknowledge that it is very important to try to target the Mr and Mrs Bigs of the drug trade and these are people who choose to thrive on human tragedy. Where I suppose I disagree with Hon Michael Mischin is that I do not think it is a futile exercise to try to target the high-end organised crime level of drug trafficking. I absolutely recognise that there is always the very high likelihood that should someone be imprisoned, someone else may take their place. But I do not necessarily think that that means we do not look at pursuing this. I am not suggesting that that is what Hon Michael Mischin was suggesting. But my concern is that I do not think it is futile. I think it is really important that we keep our eye on loo king at penalties for very high end traffickers.
Hon Michael Mischin : Do you mind if I clarify that? I was not suggesting it’s futile. I think it’s an important exercise, but it shouldn’t be the sole focus. If you focus just on that level, you are ignoring those who are actually part of the distribution process which needs to be interrupted.
Hon ALISON XAMON : I will get to that, because I suspect that is where Hon Michael Mischin and I have some differing opinions on people who are caught up in the cycle of drug distribution. But before I get to that, I think that it has to be acknowledged that methamphetamine has a devastating effect on people’s lives, their families and the community. Quite simply, it is ruining people’s lives. It is devastating for those of us who have been working in this area to watch the rise of methamphetamine, particularly over the last decade, and the devastating trail that it leaves for people. It is really indiscriminate. It is not true to say that only certain people fall foul of this drug. We find that people from right across the socioeconomic spectrum are becoming addicted to methamphetamine because it is a particularly insidious and addictive drug. One of the problems in trying to address the issue of ice usage is the sheer level of addictiveness of this drug.
Unfortunately, one of the effects for the community is that a side effect for people who are caught within the cycle of ice addiction is that it tends to be a significant driver of crime and also an escalator of violence that is often really irrational. I am sure I am not the only member in this place who has spoken to family members who have been caught in the cycle of ice addiction with a loved one. Those family members will talk about how their loved one has almost irreversibly changed as a result of this addiction. From directly speaking to ice users who are in recovery, I have heard them reflect on how they were as people under the grip of ice and how they feel that it completely changed who they were.
It really is a pretty awful drug and that is why I am standing here today to talk about the impact of methamphetamines specifically. We are talking about a drug that is about misery and despair. It is understandable that the community expects that when we are talking about methamphetamine traffickers, we are talking about dealing with harsher penalties. Come election time, the appeal lies in rolling out the sorts of legislative responses that we are now discussing. However, like the comments made by some of the previous speakers, the Greens are realistic about what we think this legislation will accomplish. We have some reservations about it and, more importantly, where it is intended realistically to fit within the overall strategies to address ice usage.
The bill aims to increase the maximum penalty for the offence of possession of methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply from 25 years’ imprisonment or a fine of $100 000 to life imprisonment. It is simply looking to increase the scope of sentencing options that potentially will be available to a judge. The increased maximum penalty will apply to offenders who are convicted of possession with intent to sell or supply an amount of meth equal to or greater than the amount specified in schedule 7 of the Misuse of Drugs Act. The relevant quantity of methamphetamine that we are talking about is 28 grams. I will talk a bit more about that amount and the status of that schedule.
The bill also is increasing the maximum penalties for other related offences when they relate to a trafficable quantity of meth, including attempting to commit an offence, conspiring with another to commit an offence, inciting another to commit an offence and becoming an accessory after the fact. These attempts and conspiracies also have the potential to attract the maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Inciting another to commit an offence or becoming an accessory after the fact will attract a maximum penalty of 14 years. I note that the bill incorporates an amendment to the District Court of Western Australia Act, which allows the District Court to retain jurisdiction over all drug-related offences. Presently, the District Court has jurisdiction over all criminal offences apart from those that carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. To ensure consistency of where the appropriate court would be, I understand that amendment needed to be incorporated in this legislation.
I acknowledge that this legislation is fulfilling an election commitment made by the Labor Party. Therefore, it was always going to be presented. However, it would have been good if prior to this legislation being introduced, there had been the opportunity to have broader consultation, particularly with the alcohol and other drugs sector. I am aware that a number of people within the legal sector would have liked to have taken a more holistic view of this legislation. That is always the best way to try to bring about these sorts of changes and the government has the resources to do that. I recognise that this had been put forward as one of the ALP’s tough-on-crime initiatives for the election and, as I understand it, it was part of a commitment to be introduced within the first 100 days; hence, the bill has been introduced without the government going through a level of consultation that would have been useful. It is important for legislation of this sort to be evidence based and, ideally, the result of rigorous consultation and research. I abhor putting forward legislation that is simply populist, but here we go.
Although I acknowledge that general deterrence should be the paramount consideration in setting penalties for drug trafficking, as I have already said, there is a real question about whether arbitrarily increasing sentences, as this bill proposes to do, will have an impact on general deterrence. That is particularly the case given that this is an arena in which quite hefty sentences are already being imposed.
We know that for a long time, the penalties imposed for drug dealing have been more severe than the penalties imposed for the majority of criminal offences. The concern is that at some point, the sheer length of time that drug offenders spend in custody may not have the deterrent effect that people hope it will have and may not be the principal factor in a person’s decision about whether to engage in drug dealing. I note that no evidence has been presented to demonstrate that the proposed increase in penalties will be an effective deterrent.
During my briefing on this bill, I became aware that there is going to be a review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981. That review is long overdue. I welcome the fact that this review will be undertaken, because we know that some of the penalties contained in the Misuse of Drugs Act are very out of date. The new penalties that are proposed to be introduced may be appropriate. However, the new penalties may be inconsistent with or disproportionate to the existing penalties. This is, therefore, a good opportunity for us to get some consistency in how we address the issue of illicit drugs. If the act is not reviewed regularly, we run the risk that the legislation will become ineffective or have unjust effects. I am concerned when people tinker around the edges simply to fulfil election commitments and demonstrate to the community that their party is not soft on crime. That is by no means best practice when it comes to drafting legislation. I suspect that if the Misuse of Drugs Act had been reviewed in a timely manner and if any relevant recommendations had been implemented, many of the concerns I am raising today would have been addressed.
The policy of the Greens provides that we will support legislation that decriminalises the use and possession of currently prohibited drugs so that users do not face criminal sanctions. The Greens believe that criminal sanctions should apply to people who manufacture, sell and supply currently prohibited drugs. As such, this bill is not inconsistent with Greens policy. Good alcohol and drug policy involves a balance between reducing the supply of drugs and reducing the demand, and reducing the harmful consequences of alcohol and other drugs. As has already been mentioned, this bill will not do anything to address the demand for methamphetamine, nor will it do anything to address the harmful consequences of methamphetamine abuse. The bill deals with only one component, the issue of supply — or at least we hope it does. It is critical to acknowledge that this legislation will not be a fix-all for the harm that methamphetamine causes in our community. I am keen to see what other initiatives that address the issue of demand and the consequences of methamphetamine abuse will be rolled out in the future.
I will now get back to schedule VII of the Misuse of Drugs Act and the amount of 28 grams of methamphetamine that has be en set as the threshold for the purposes of drug trafficking. The Greens do not want to see any unintended consequences as a result of the passage of this legislation. We do not want to see further criminalisation, marginalisation or stigmatisation of people who are caught in the cycle of drug addiction but are doing no harm to others. We do not want to see legislation that imposes a risk to users. I maintain strongly, as do other members of the Greens, that our approach to people who are caught in the cycle of drug addiction but not engaging in other offences should be a public health approach and not a law and order approach. We want to ensure that people who are caught in the cycle of drug abuse are able to find every pathway out of that cycle of abuse.
The reason for the thresholds that are set in the schedules to the Misuse of Drugs Act is to filter out drug users from drug dealers and traffickers. Schedule VII, headed, “Amounts of prohibited drugs for purposes of drug trafficking”, is the critical schedule for the purposes of this bill. That schedule has not been updated with respect to the threshold amount of methamphetamine since it was put into the legislation in December 1990. Schedule V, headed, “Amounts of prohibited drugs giving rise to presumption of intention to sell or supply”, has never been updated. The threshold for a person to be presumed to be in possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell or supply is two, or more, grams of methamphetamine. There is a real chance that as a consequence of the failure to review and update the Misuse of Drugs Act, the quantities specified in the schedules do not reflect the current patterns of drug use and distribution. That is a real problem in light of the fact that the community is very concerned about the broad issue of the misuse of illicit substances. I note that these concerns have also been expressed by service providers within the alcohol and other drugs sector.
I want to draw members’ attention to some research that was funded by the Criminology Research Advisory Council and published in 2014 by the Australian Institute of Criminology. That research makes interesting reading. The authors of that research note that the use of minimum thresholds is controversial. They note also that many countries are avoiding the use of minimum thresholds, and that only a minority of countries — that includes Australia — specify actual quantities. The authors note also that there is a risk that users who possess large quantities of an illicit drug will be presumed to be selling or supplying the drug and as a result people may be erroneously penalised or imprisoned.
The study evaluated the capacity of the drug trafficking thresholds in Australian jurisdictions to deliver proportional, fair and just sanctioning of drug offenders. The authors found that in Western Australia regular methamphetamine users consumed, in a heavy session, quantities that were greater than the current schedule V threshold amount. In Western Australia , possession of two, or more, grams of methamphetamine gives rise to the presumption of intention to sell or supply. It was acknowledged in the research that users are at minimal risk of exceeding the threshold when they follow typical use and purchase patterns; however, users may exceed the threshold if they use or purchase high doses. This has been explicitly said by the alcohol and other drugs sector.
The comment has been made in the public arena by some of these providers that some of the people they are assisting now, who are not traffickers, would have in the past potentially been in possession of this amount of meth. The concern I have is that this is a very great risk. Frankly, we should not be locking up people who are simply drug users as opposed to drug traffickers. The legislation we are considering today does not refer to amounts specified in schedule V of the Misuse of Drugs Act, but rather to the higher amount that is specified in schedule VII; nonetheless, it is an important issue that needs to be addressed as a priority and I certainly hope it will be part of the review of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
I looked very closely at reversal of the onus of proof, which is obviously a breach of the rule of law and one of the reasons that we need to be careful to make sure that the threshold quantities are current and appropriate, particularly for the intent to sell or supply drugs. The Misuse of Drugs Act as a whole already reverses the onus of proof. Under this bill, possession of drugs above the quantities scheduled in schedule V constitutes a presumption of intent to sell or supply. This places the onus on the alleged offender to prove that the amount they possess was not for the purposes of selling or supplying. As I said, it is a fundamental principle of the rule of law and our system of justice that the prosecution bears the burden of proof in criminal trials. This principle is fundamental with the presumption of innocence. However, as I said, in the case of the Misuse of Drugs Act, the legal burden is placed on the defendant to prove they did not intend to traffic the drugs. I recognise that there are reasons that this bill reverses the onus of proof, because without it the prosecution would have a pretty formidable task trying to secure convictions. At the very least, the threshold quantities need to be reviewed. By not updating the schedules, or at least regularly reviewing them to ensure they are appropriate, we are running the risk of catching users in provisions that are supposed to deal with dealers and suppliers. By no means do I profess to be an expert in this area and, as such, I am in no way qualified — neither is anyone in this place — to say what the threshold should be, whether it is 21, 28 or 42 grams. I have no idea. It is important that any review is informed by sector experts. These are people who are experts in the legal profession, in policing and, of course, in the alcohol and other drugs sector. I am very clear about that. But it is important we review the amounts and make sure the amounts in these schedules, in this case schedule VII, are fit for purpose. Again, because the Misuse of Drugs Act will be reviewed later this year, in part to fulfil a statutory requirement from earlier amendments, I hope there can be broad consultation with people who know what they are talking about regarding the amounts stipulated within the schedules. Given that we are halfway through the year already and this is a significant piece of legislation, I am not sure it will be possible for a thorough review of the whole act to be undertaken and tabled before the end of the year. I urge the government, however it decides to progress the review, to ensure some consideration of the schedules are undertaken as a matter of urgency. I suggest that if this is not done in the review of the act, perhaps this would be an appropriate project for the Law Reform Commission, which, of course, could undertake that upon the recommendation of the Attorney General.
I want to comment on mandatory sentencing, because it keeps coming up in this place. I have to say how pleased I am that this legislation contains no mandatory sentencing components, because if there had been mandatory sentencing components in this legislation, I would be standing up to make it clear than under no circumstances would the Greens support this bill. However, as judicial discretion has been maintained within this legislation, I am able to look at the bill on its own terms and give consideration to whether what has been proposed is reasonable and is likely to contribute to the outcome it hopes to achieve. I note that a previous contribution from Hon Martin Aldridge referred to comments made by the Labor Party within the election period supporting mandatory sentencing as an epiphany. I beg to differ. I consider it more of a thought bubble. It is not a particularly enlightened approach to be talking about the need for mandatory sentencing at all. I am glad that the Labor Party has decided to back away from the comments that were made that appeal to certain parts of the community, but not to all — I want to make that clear — calling for mandatory sentencing. I do not understand this almost pathological need to bind our judiciary and prevent fair decision-making to occur. I for one have more faith in our courts than perhaps some members in this place. I am glad that the Labor Party did not proceed with any commitment to introduce a mandatory sentencing component to this legislation; it makes it better legislation.
Mandatory sentencing is not effective. It is just a political tool, and it is time people started owning up to that and recognising that the reason it is put forward is that it is politically popular and not because it helps in the service of justice. I am pleased that mandatory sentencing is not included in this bill. All mandatory sentencing does is make it impossible for judges to have regard for individual circumstances such as ongoing mental health issues and prospects of rehabilitation, and I have already spoken about concerns around the quantity of 28 grams. It may be that sometimes a judge, being able to weigh all the evidence in front of them, is able to make a decision that perhaps a hefty sentence is not necessary, or maybe that it is incredibly necessary. This bill extends the scope of potential options available to magistrates. We also know that mandatory sentencing has been seen time and again to have a disproportionate impact on Aboriginal people. As has been previously pointed out in a briefing note by the Director of Public Prosecutions, mandatory sentencing removes the incentive for people to plead guilty, which is a bad outcome. It increases the prison population and the cost to the community, and we do not necessarily get justice. Effectively, there is no benefit whatsoever. I am glad that the Labor Party chose not to go down that path so that we could have a proper discussion about this. In our overall approach to drugs, we cannot underestimate the enormity of the impact of the meth issue within our community. I note that Chief Justice Wayne Martin has stated that given the significant number of cases in our courts pertaining to meth, he is of the view that it is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg. He thinks that there must be hundreds of thousands of families who have been profoundly affected by this terrible drug. We need to be realistic and recognise that a purely law-enforcement approach does not work and is not working. It is abundantly clear that where there is a strong demand for drugs there will always be supply. Legislation particularly around penalties is only ever going to be a minor part of how we realistically address the ice issue. We know that we need a three-pronged approach to deal with the issue of drugs. That will include reducing supply. Again, the bill at least is a small part, potentially — who knows — towards that approach. It also includes reducing harm, which is about treatment, support and decriminalisation, which is recognised as a significant way of reducing harm; and, reducing demand, which is about education and prevention. Part of that prevention is also about making sure that we have well-funded, community-managed mental health services so that people who are drawn to drugs in order to self-medicate, in particular, are able to get that early support with their mental health issues so that perhaps they do not go down that path in the first place. But, of course, people also have to be educated about why it is not a good idea — because it ruins lives.
Drug treatment needs to be treated like any other part of the health system. The concern is that we should stop treating people who are caught in the cycle of drug addiction as being an adjunct to the criminal justice system merely for having a drug addiction, as I have said before, as opposed to people who may offend while they are on drugs. If a person commits other offences, then obviously they need to be part of the criminal justice system. But the mere fact of a person simply having a drug addiction should not in and of itself mean that they should automatically be part of the criminal justice system as opposed to the health system. We need to view illicit drug use primarily as a health and social problem, and we need to fund it accordingly. I reflect on a comment directed to me in this place yesterday about the cost of these services, to which I respond: it is far more expensive to not deal with the cost of drug addiction before it becomes a problem in people’s lives. It is just good, basic commonsense.
Reducing demand is also about making sure that we understand the drivers of drug use. I cannot stress enough the importance of a public health approach — education, prevention, treatment and support. I understand that that is not a simple response; it is a complex issue, so it requires complex responses. I will draw members’ attention to my notice of motion on the notice paper — it is a wonderful motion and I look forward to everyone supporting it — in which I will call for the establishment of a committee to start looking at the different ways that we can look at this drug use issue. What we do know is that what we are doing now is not working, clearly. There has been, however, success in other jurisdictions around the world, and I think that we really need to look into alternative approaches to reducing illicit drug use. My motion calls for the establishment of a select committee to simply examine these issues. I will obviously be giving my contribution when we finally bring that on. I hope members think about that because I think it is important that we are able to have an intelligent examination of the issue. We have seen that in countries that reform drug laws and instead decide to emphasise the health and social interventions and expand and improve on treatment programs that problematic drug use declines. Importantly, demand declines and outcomes for people in the community, generally, are improved. There are considerable benefits associated with the diversion of offenders into community residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation services instead of always looking at incarceration. Diversion is also associated with financial savings, as well as improvements in health and mortality.
In 2012 Deloitte Access Economics produced a national Indigenous drug and alcohol community report that found that residential treatment not only cost less, but was also associated with better outcomes than sending people to prison — it is good for the community and good for us as taxpayers. That report also found that total financial savings associated with diversion to community residential rehabilitation compared with prison was over $111 000 per offender. There is your money; there is your budgetary crisis dealt with! More work needs to go into the provision of services to ensure that services are culturally appropriate and accessible, including for people living in regional and remote areas, because there are huge issues particularly in our regional and remote areas, as well as for at-risk and for identified marginalised groups. I keep saying, and I am going to keep saying, that we need to make sure that we are funding the mental health and alcohol and other drugs services plan because it maps out how we can ensure that we have the necessary mental health and alcohol and other drug services that will assist people with prevention and early intervention. The plan recognises the urgent need for in creased access to alcohol and other drug withdrawal management and residential rehabilitation services, particularly in regional areas. We do not have enough. We are not keeping up with demand. People are hitting rock bottom and when they are looking to finally address their issues they are finding that the services are not there in a timely way for them to be able to address that. I also note that it is estimated that up to 50 per cent of people with alcohol and other drug problems also have a co-occurring mental illness. That is a huge number of people, so we need to make sure that we are producing specialised services that can deal with this. Addressing the issue and the problem of meth use cannot be done in isolation from the provision of mental health support services — 50 per cent.
I also want to raise concerns about the spread of methamphetamine use to Aboriginal communities. I was in the Kimberley last year, speaking to people particularly on the issue of suicide and this matter was raised directly with me as being a massive increasing concern. I note that some community services are doing some really good work in harm reduction, but what was made clear to me, particularly from the elders, was that there are not enough resources being provided. Again, as I have said before, I do not think that it is about the federal government providing resources in this space. Instead, I think the federal government can hand the money over to us and we can manage that in a coordinated way, because we do it better than the federal government does — at least here in WA. What that really notes, though, with the increased use of meth, particularly within Aboriginal communities, and even in our remote communities, is that no part of the community is immune from the effect of methamphetamine. It is being felt right across the socioeconomic divide. Also I think it is fairly safe to say that parents who are methamphetamine addicts are often not particularly good at fulfilling their parental responsibilities, particularly as they decline into their addiction. The impact on families can be enormous, especially due to the increased rate of violence that often comes with this insidious drug. I am particularly concerned about the generational impact of this drug on children who are being raised in homes that are in the grip of addiction and on children who have needed to be removed from their homes as a result of addiction and find themselves in the foster system.
On a related note, I have spoken many times over the years about foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and how great a concern it is, particularly in Western Australia . The impacts on a child in utero of a mother consuming alcohol are lifelong and can be devastating. We need to know that drug use has very similar devastating consequences for unborn children. We still have a fair bit to learn in this area; a lot of research needs to be undertaken, particularly about methamphetamine use. We already know that methamphetamine use during pregnancy can cause significant physical and neurodevelopmental impairment. As with FASD, those impairments cannot be reversed. Again, although there are some excellent interventions to support people, albeit not available widely enough, prevention is far more critical to ensure that we address the intergenerational impact of methamphetamine use, particularly for children who are born to meth-addicted parents.
We need to improve the alcohol and other drug rehabilitation services in our prisons and at Banksia Hill Detention Centre. Our youth justice services deal with young people — I am talking about some as young as 11 years old — who are on methamphetamine. Their families and the people who they hang out with are all on methamphetamine; it is devastating. We need to urgently ensure that evidence-based support and treatment is available for these children and their families. I suggest that the community will want this as well. I keep saying it, but we will have to start addressing the social drivers of methamphetamine use. What are the reasons that people take up this drug in the first place? Is it due to mental health issues? Is it boredom? Is it a culture within a particular work environment? We need to start addressing that.
My final comment on strategies moving forward is on the importance of our diversionary courts and how important it is to fund them. In my former professional life as a lawyer, I had clients who went through the Drug Court. It is tough. It was tough for those clients but it helped them to turn their lives around. Evidence shows us that people who go through diversionary courts rather than the regular court system have a higher rate of success in avoiding recidivist conduct. It is always money well spent and helps to turn people’s lives around. These might be people who engage in offending behaviours that arise from their addictions. There is no excusing that offending, which is why people who steal or whatever need to go to court. The reality is that if their drug addiction is the reason that they offend, the one thing we want them to do is to change that. The diversionary courts play an essential role in stopping that recidivism. They are good for the community and good for those individuals. Having spoken to the parents of young people who have gone through the Drug Court, I can tell members that it becomes a lifesaver for them. Those parents have probably watched their child go out of control for several years and have not had the ability to help them. It means that they are finally able to turn their lives around. That is money well spent. I acknowledge that the previous government looked at investment in diversionary courts and it gets to take credit for the establishment of the Specialist Treatment and Referral Team Court, which is fantastic. But we still have a long way to go. We have to look at far more investment in these courts, particularly in the regions, because people in the regions are missing out on the opportunities available with our diversionary courts.
I recognise that the early introduction of this bill as part of the 100-day commitment reflects how important people feel it is to address the issue of methamphetamine use. People in the community — I will put my hand up and say that I am one of the people with this view — are sick of the effect that methamphetamine is having on the community. I am personally sad about the effect it is having on individuals and their families. It is a horrible drug — it is just horrible. It changes people and is one of the ugliest drugs that I have ever seen. Its devastating impacts are found right across the community. Having said that, I wonder how much effect this bill will have in dealing with the landscape of the meth scourge. It increases the range of options that are available to judges. It does not bind them with stupid ideas like mandatory sentencing, so that is good. I think that there is a shared understanding that no-one feels much sympathy for the bigwigs of the drug trade, people who choose to make God knows how many millions of dollars out of peddling in absolute misery, destroying people’s lives and making the community miserable. The reality is that so much more still needs to be done to address the issue of meth use in our community. That is the main game. Reducing demand means that there will be no market. Assisting people to get out of the cycle of meth addiction within the health system and making sure that services are available as soon as people get to the point of realising that they have to do something about their addiction is the main game where we need to focus our energy. I hate to think that anyone could think that passing this legislation will have a major impact on addressing the issue of meth use. I look forward to the Misuse of Drugs Act as a whole being reviewed. I will urge the government to prioritise looking at the schedule and undertaking a process of community consultation, particularly with experts in this space, to ensure that the next time that amendments to this act are presented to this house, all members can have full confidence that it is the best possible legislation that we can contemplate.
[speeches and comments of various members]
[Continued on page 2074 .]
Sitting suspended from 4.15 to 4.30 pm