28 September 2023

Letter from the Editor: that feeling when you realise you're being used by politicians

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Michaelia Cash proposed legislation to stymie the ACT’s drug law reform. Photo: Senator Michaelia Cash Facebook.

Judging by the results of our most recent polling, Canberrans are sharply divided on the rights and wrongs of recent drug law reform.

Many support harm minimisation on principle, some business owners are worried about how it will impact their entertainment venues and the ACT Police Commissioner is concerned by a potential increase in dealing.

Senator Michaelia Cash (WA) is also, apparently, very worried indeed about our drug law reform, prompting her recent private senator’s bill to modify the ACT’s Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Act 2022 so that it “has no force or effect as a law of the Australian Capital Territory, except as regards the lawfulness or validity of anything done in accordance with that Act before the commencement of this Act”.

Ms Cash says her bill acted in the interests of Canberra’s “families, police, pharmacists and the general community” to keep the status quo of how illicit substances are currently treated in the Territory.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton also thinks Canberra will become a target for national drug tourism.

Interestingly, Senator Matt Canavan (Queensland) was also deeply concerned about the ACT Government’s takeover of Calvary Public Hospital a few months ago.

What next, the timing of Floriade? Whether light rail should go through Yarralumla or Barton?

Here’s the thing: this is our business to work out, not anybody else’s. That’s what self-government is all about, for better or for worse. As long as the people of the ACT continue to vote in a Labor-Greens government, progressive policies of this kind will result.

Canberrans are not second-class citizens and we should have the same rights to make our own laws on state matters as every other Australian. That’s the effect of the Restoring Territory Rights Bill and its consequences are both just and democratic.

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But for the second time this year, federal Opposition politicians have used ACT issues to weaponise the ACT Government’s local decisions about local matters.

National matters should be debated at a national level when they affect us all. But drug decriminalisation and the sale of Calvary are being used as a stick to beat the Albanese government, not because they’re of any real concern to senators elected to represent their own states.

And it’s not as if either Canavan or Cash have a particularly close portfolio relationship with drug decriminalisation or healthcare.

Perhaps Cash’s role as shadow Attorney-General has some relevance, but you’d be struggling to link her work on Employment and Workplace Relations too closely with how much methamphetamine you can carry in an ACT nightclub or connect Matt Canavan’s career focus on regional resources with whether Catholic nuns should run a suburban hospital.

Interestingly, Queensland recently implemented a three-strikes approach where police are now required to give a warning to a person caught for the first time possessing a small amount of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine and heroin.

On their second and third strike, police must offer that person the chance to partake in a mandatory drug diversion assessment program.

All other states except NSW offer police discretion to send a person to a diversion program rather than court for at least their first strike of minor drug possession although Queensland is the first state to implement a mandatory warning system.

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So these matters remain crimes, but the effect of these laws minimises interaction in the criminal justice system for people best suited to diversionary programs.

You might well think that these approaches are not strikingly different from the new laws in the Territory, which decriminalise the possession of small amounts of these drugs. Instead, the drugs will be confiscated, the possessor issued a $100 fine or be directed to attend a health-based drug diversion program.

Canberrans should vigorously debate the drug law reforms (and the Calvary acquisition). We should exercise our democratic rights and either back in the local government or vote them out.

But we don’t need an assist from federal politicians whose only enduring interest in the Canberra community is the flight schedules in and out of the airport.

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More one sided politics from Genevieve after a good start, better to discuss why the community is divided, but I guess the ABC training prevails. We didn’t ask for self Govt, it was imposed. And Roads, rates and rubbish aren’t sexy enough for our local council politicians, they all want to play with the “fun” stuff. PS we do need different approaches to addiction focusing on rehabilitation not jail

Sorry but you would have to be extremely naive to think that the police are going to do anything whatsoever about drugs and associated crimes in Canberra now.

Why on earth would the cops bother giving someone a $100 fine when they already can’t be bothered enforcing most existing criminal laws due to the ineffectiveness of the judiciary system that lets the criminals straight back out on to the streets to continue their personal crime wave the very next day?

The stupidity of this drug decriminalisation insanity is that a parent could get an $800 to $3200 fine for smoking a cigarette in a public school playground, yet a drug addict can shoot up heroin leaving their syringes everywhere in that same school playground surrounded by kids and expect a warning or $100 fine at worst.

The ACT top cop has already said they are advising officers to look the other way as of next month.

“They’re probably going to see people take a line of coke, where historically, they may have intervened, [but they’re] probably not going to now.”


Canberrans keep voting for GreensLab clowns and they get what they deserve.

Our number new number plates should be: CBR – Look out for the syringes and meth drivers.

The ACT town council wants a Utopia for all the dregs of society and the special kind of behaviour associated with it

I’d sooner dispense with self government and go back to being administered by the Feds.

The so-called Feds don’t want to administer the ACT. The pollies who are trying to meddle in ACT affairs when it suits their own political agenda do not want to return to a funding model where the Commonwealth takes responsibility for and pays for state-like functions in Canberra (health, education, policing, roads, public transport, municipal functions etc). They want to use us to appeal to their own support base by seeming to be tough on one or two issues, without actually having to do any real governing or administration.

Yeah, that’s what the local government does too. At least we wouldn’t be paying for two levels of it.

Local government doesn’t do big ticket items like health, education, policing etc. Whether we like it or not, the pollies up on the hill are never going to agree to taking back those responsibilities.

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