Question: Schools, Random Drug Searches


Mr MALINAUSKAS (Croydon—Leader of the Opposition) (14:36): Supplementary: given that the minister is not going to instruct the police commissioner, how will he implement this policy?

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER (Morialta—Minister for Education) (14:36): I thank the leader for the question. The policy is as a broad scale. The Stop the Scourge in Schools policy falls under the education portfolio, so I am very pleased to be able to answer the question. The fact is that that meeting that the Minister for Police identified took place on 16 April. It was a very productive meeting. We sat down with the police commissioner, the head of the education department (as the Minister for Police identified), and a number of officers of both departments, and had a very important discussion, a very useful discussion, about the nature of how that policy will work rolling forward. A number of issues were clarified.

It seems that the former ministers, when they had been discussing with police how they would imagine such a policy would be rolled out, had a very different point of view to the current government about how such a policy would roll out. In fact, the government has also commenced discussions with the Independent Schools sector and the Catholic schools sector, which are key partners in the policy, and the three education sectors in fact met on 24 April to commence development of related protocols. Those discussions are continuing to work between the police commissioner and the education department officials, but I think the fact that the opposition has chosen to pursue this line gives us some hint into the policy differences between this government and the opposition.

This government believes that drugs in schools are an absolute scourge and stain on our community, and we must be taking measures to ensure that those people who think that it is appropriate to allow their children, to encourage their children to take drugs to school to sell to their mates absolutely are doing the wrong thing. We don't want them to continue doing that. We think that it is better that our students be protected from drugs and that we must therefore take those measures that are necessary to stop the use of drugs in schools.

When I was the shadow minister, we undertook a little bit of work in the FOI area to find out about the information that was available of how many schools had been able to access the use of police dogs to do a visit. Again, as I have said before in the house, we are talking about those beautiful chocolate labradors; sometimes you see them and beagles at the airport finding the drugs. These are not things that are traumatic in the events where they have taken place. Indeed, we asked some of the principals of those schools how successful the visits had been—at Eastern Fleurieu School, and I think CBC might have been one of the schools where we spoke to the principals and leaders.

They identified that those visits by the police with the dogs had in fact been incredibly useful at those schools. At one of them, and I can't remember if it was one of the schools I have just noted or one of the others, they did in fact find some drugs. They found it an educative process for the whole school community. They found it a useful community relations exercise for the police involved who were taking the dogs along. It was generally seen as a positive exercise, and it was generally seen to reduce drug use in schools. The school that identified to me that they had found drugs reported that there was a marked drop-off thereafter in the amount of drugs that were used.

Any parent identified before—and there have been identified some examples where parents are giving drugs to their kids to sell at school—anyone who is contemplating the idea of selling drugs to teenagers or young people, to children in schools, will know that under the Marshall Liberal government that won't be tolerated. Under the Marshall Liberal government, there is the possibility that their drugs will be detected and that they will be prevented from being introduced to the young people in that school. The Labor Party has made it very clear that they don't care about this. I think it goes to an underlying policy principle difference between the opposition and the government—

The SPEAKER: Debate. Please wrap it up.

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: They don't care about drugs—

The SPEAKER: This is debate.

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: —they are soft on drugs—

The SPEAKER: The Minister for Education will be seated.

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: —and they don't care that our kids—

The SPEAKER: The Minister for Education will be seated.

Mr KOUTSANTONIS: Point of order: sir, that was an appalling outburst while you were attempting to speak. I just point out—

The SPEAKER: What was the point of order?

Mr KOUTSANTONIS: —how appalling it was by the manager of government business.

The SPEAKER: I have called it out for debate. Thank you, member for West Torrens. The member for MacKillop. All be silent. I have called the member for MacKillop.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Members on my right, be quiet.