Illicit Drugs


Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 14:46 ): My question is to the Minister for Police. Does the minister agree with the member for Fisher that:

…an overbearing police presence and zero - tolerance policies are forcing partygoers to take unnecessary risks, such as overloading on drugs 

The Hon. A. PICCOLO ( LightMinister for Disabilities, Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) (14:47): I thank the honourable member for his question. The issue of drugs, whether it is drugs at an event or drugs in the community, does require a whole range of strategies to address. No single strategy can actually eliminate it. You may recall recently that the Prime Minister announced $600 million to deal with the issue of ice, and that is actually focused on harm minimisation.

Having said that, even though that is an important focus, we still take a lot of compliance activity within the police to make sure that we address the issue. I do not think anything the member for Fisher has said contradicts the principle I have just—

Members interjecting:

The Hon. A. PICCOLO: As I said at the outset, any issue dealing with drugs requires a range of strategies and some will require compliance, like police activity. Police will continue to have a presence. Secondly, there will be other programs as well to support it. What I have said is that I do not believe that we have an over presence by police. I think the police presence was appropriate.

The SPEAKER: I call to order the member for Schubert and I warn the member for Hartley and the member for Morialta.

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 14:48 ): Supplementary: given that since 1998's Tough on Drugs strategy there has been a bipartisan approach that has included rehabilitation, education and policing measures to take place, does the government still believe that policing music festivals, including with drug sniffer dogs, is appropriate or is the government taking the member for Fisher's prescribed policy?

The Hon. J.R. RAU ( Enfield—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General, Minister for Justice Reform, Minister for Planning, Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for Child Protection Reform) (14:48): The member for Fisher, in what I thought was a very well put together article, expressed her views about how complex and how concerning—

Members interjecting:

The Hon. J.R. RAU: This is a serious topic. I would like people to understand that the member for Fisher was trying to actually have a conversation with the people of South Australia through the opportunity presented to her by the newspaper of writing an article in which she was saying, not that we should be soft on drugs—that is not what she said—and not that we should have people going around testing pills at venues to see whether the pills were safe so that the kids could be given pills. In fact, if I remember—because I read that article with a bit of interest, actually—I thought to myself, she is very clear that she is not advocating a soft on pills or soft on drugs attitude.

If people were to read the member for Fisher's contribution and read it carefully and consider what she is saying, what she's actually saying is, 'This is a very complex problem.' I think, quite surprisingly, what she is saying and what the member for Morialta asked in his question are very much in the same space: it is a multifaceted problem. It does involve health issues; it does involve education issues; it does involve policing issues.

Mr Marshall: Do you have to wind back the police?

The Hon. J.R. RAU: Nobody is suggesting winding back the police.

Mr Marshall: Except in the article.

The Hon. J.R. RAU: I'm sorry—I read the article and I did not understand the member for Fisher to be saying that we should not be policing these things and we should be turning a blind eye to people supplying drugs to young people.

Mr Marshall interjecting:

The Hon. J.R. RAU: I'm saying read the article as a whole, and I took the article as a whole as being supportive of the notion that the government is not an apologist for people who peddle drugs to young people. The government is not out there saying, 'We're abandoning all sense of policing these venues and we're just going to have people out there testing your pills to make sure they're okay.' The member for Fisher said nothing of the sort.

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 14:51 ): Supplementary: given that the member for Fisher's comments quite separately from her article in The Advertiser and on radio yesterday specifically referred to an overbearing police presence and the zero tolerance policies being directly linked to people preloading—

The SPEAKER: Could we come to a question?

Mr GARDNER: Does the minister agree with the member for Fisher that the police presence is 'overbearing'?

Mr Pengilly: That's what she said.

The SPEAKER: The member for Finniss is warned for the second and the final time.

The Hon. J.R. RAU ( Enfield—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General, Minister for Justice Reform, Minister for Planning, Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for Child Protection Reform) (14:51): That is an interesting question because, if one is to answer that question in the way I assume one is intended to answer the question—which I don't intend to do—one would actually be caught up in the proposition that, because we want to stop people preloading, we don't police the events.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. J.R. RAU: I know the member for Fisher. I read the member for Fisher's article. I am absolutely confident that she was not telling everybody, 'Don't have police there because then people won't preload.' She certainly didn't say that, and that is not the government's position. I can say that the government's position is very clear.

The government's position is that we don't encourage people to take these experimental drugs at all, full stop. In fact, not only is it bad to take drugs because they are illegal and you are breaking the law but the people who make these things are backyard amateur chemists who don't actually care what the consequences are to the people who buy these things.

These drugs have not even been tested on rats, let alone on people. These drugs have not even been tested on rats, and the individuals who are prepared to make this stuff without any regard to what is in it and then take it to venues and sell it to young people—

Mr Whetstone interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Chaffey is called to order.

The Hon. J.R. RAU: —are beneath contempt. The fact that young people die because these people are selling this rubbish to them is appalling—

Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Point of order, sir.

The SPEAKER: Point of order.

Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: The minister is debating the question which was very straightforward: does he agree that the current police policy—

The SPEAKER: That is an entirely bogus point of order, wasting the house's time, interrupting the opposition's strategy. The Deputy Premier was asked whether he agreed with the member for Fisher and he is entirely within scope, so I warn the member for Stuart. Deputy Premier.

The Hon. J.R. RAU: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The former member for Stuart wouldn't have behaved like that. As I was saying, so the government—just so it is really clear—the government does not encourage people to take this rubbish at all—No. 1. No. 2: the government does encourage anybody who knows about people who are manufacturing or selling these things, to pick up the phone, ring Crime Stoppers, and get the police to go out and shut these people down.

Mr Whetstone: What about the imports?

The Hon. J.R. RAU: That is a legitimate question and I will come to that in a moment if I am given more time. The government also—

Mr Marshall: Bring back Jay!

The Hon. J.R. RAU: He'll be back, don't worry. He'll be back. He's like Arnie; he'll be back.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Kavel will stop gesturing wildly.

The Hon. J.R. RAU: He intimidates me, sir. As I was saying—

Ms Vlahos interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Taylor is called to order.

The Hon. J.R. RAU: —we do not have the view as a government that we should relax policing of these events at all. That is not going to happen—

Mr Marshall: Tell the member for Fisher.

The Hon. J.R. RAU: —and the member for Fisher does not want it to happen because the member for Fisher is just as concerned as the rest of us about young people being able to enjoy these events in safety. That is what she is concerned about. So there is no difference of opinion and I have tried to articulate as best as I can what the government position is. But, I did hear somebody, possibly somebody from the Riverland, asking a question about—

The SPEAKER: Alas, the Deputy Premier's time has expired. The deputy leader.