18 July 2021

Seselja open to Commonwealth overruling ACT drug decriminalisation bill

| Dominic Giannini
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Zed Seselja

ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja had asked the community whether they would support the Commonwealth overruling ACT drug decriminalisation laws. Photo: File.

ACT Senator Zed Seselja has not ruled out using Commonwealth laws to rescind any drug decriminalisation laws passed by the Legislative Assembly.

A four-question survey put out by the Liberal Senator asked ACT residents whether they thought “federal laws should be used to stop decriminalisation of ice and other hard drugs?”

When asked if this question meant Senator Seselja was open to moving a bill to overrule any new laws in the Territory or removing the Territory’s right to legislate on such issues, a spokesperson said the survey was launched “in response to serious concerns raised with him by Canberrans”.

“Canberrans are rightly concerned by the reckless proposal, and as a representative of the ACT Senator Seselja is seeking to better understand those views,” the spokesperson said.

Senator Seselja's questionnaire

The introduction to Senator Zed Seselja’s questionnaire. Image: Screenshot.

The spokesperson called the decriminalisation bill a “shocking plan” that would “decriminalise destructive and harmful drugs such as ice, heroin and MDMA”.

A spokesperson for Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Senator Seselja should be concerning himself with issues that Canberrans want addressed by the Commonwealth Government, including the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, purpose-built quarantine facilities and action on climate change.

READ MORE Zed Seselja is the worst and that’s great

“Once again, we see Zed Seselja acting as if he is the Opposition Leader in the ACT and interfering in matters being considered by the ACT Legislative Assembly,” the spokesperson said.

The decriminalisation bill is currently before an ACT Legislative Assembly committee. A final report will be handed down in October.

Committee hearings are due to continue in a fortnight on 29 and 30 July.

The comments come as the Senator faces sustained criticisms by Canberrans and members of the ACT Legislative Assembly for not supporting reinstating the Territory’s right to legislate on euthanasia.

Senator Seselja, an opponent to voluntary assisted dying, has previously said he would not support any bill that could be a direct pathway to its legalisation in the ACT.

The issue was reignited by outgoing Northern Territory Senator Sam McMahon who is set to introduce a bill to reinstate the NT’s right to legislate on euthanasia after the Federal Government stripped both territories of the right in 1997.

Senator McMahon said she did not include the ACT in her bill as conversations with Senator Seselja indicated that he was “not keen” on including the ACT in a new territory rights bill.

ACT Labor Senator and former Chief Minister Katy Gallagher accused Senator Seselja of putting his own views ahead of the democratic rights of his constituents.

READ MORE Gallagher fires shot across Seselja’s bow over euthanasia rights law

Senator Seselja shot back, saying Senator Gallagher was “lying when she claims that I have stood in the way of any senator putting forward a bill which includes the ACT”.

“I have simply been consistent in the position I have taken to every election I have contested.

“If Senator Gallagher is as committed to legalising euthanasia as she claims, there is nothing preventing her from introducing a bill to the senate as all senators are entitled to do.”

Senator Gallagher originally co-sponsored a bill in 2016. A separate bill was voted on to repeal the laws in 2018 and was narrowly defeated 36 to 34 in the Senate.

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Without getting into the nitty gritty of the issue itself, that survey he put out was utterly ridiculous in the inherent bias built into the questions. No surprises given its Lord Zed we are talking about, but what it clearly highlighted was how he has zero interest in actually gauging genuine community interest on any topic – he sees his view as the world view, and is solely looking for responses tailored to fit his conservative point of view.

It just reiterates he represents nobody but himself at the end of the day. We’ve got some terribly poor politicians at every level, but he is right up there for the sheer arrogance given his complete unwillingness to actively engage with, and hear the voices of the community. Selective hearing at an extraordinary scale.

Stating the bleeding obvious here – but, you seem surprised JS9 … he has never shown any inclination to represent the will of the majority of ACT citizens

HiddenDragon9:36 pm 19 Jul 21

Looks like a bit of a pattern emerging here.

Rather than this issue-by-issue stuff, Zed might be better to start articulating a broader case about what’s wrong with the ACT model of self-government, and how it could be fixed.

The survey is clearly written to promote fear, particularly for famikies/those with children most likely to feel unsafe with the presentation of information that ‘the lefties are trying to flood the community with drugs…leading to further stigmatization of people who use drugs and stuck in a cycle of addiction with few treatment options available when sought out.
Interesting to note what popular opinion constitutes ‘harmful’ drugs when alcohol and tobacco are the most harmful but legalised and heavily taxed.
Decriminalization will make this a health issue as it should be and channel resources and future funding into treatment rather than continuing the same cycles of incarceration that clearly do not work as we see the ACT prison get fuller and expand to meet needs.
People need help and services need funding, simple as that. Portugal worked…but with backwards liberal like these trying to consistently punish those who need treatment and support, the ACT is at risk of being stuck in the same cycle and the drug problems we see in the community will just grow.
Treatment is cheaper than imprisonment and decriminalization frees up tax payers money in the court system.. .and people with drug issues actually stand a chance at breaking the cycle and becoming productive members of society.

Dear Z. Please hands off and let ACT residents have what they strongly want!

Capital Retro1:48 pm 19 Jul 21

More fuel for the haters.

Yes – it’s amazing how often Senatoe Seselja sets himself up for his critics to take pot shots at him … it’s a good thing he has people like you to prop him up

Voice of Reason1:34 pm 19 Jul 21

“Keep the ACT Drug-Free.”

Everyone can see the problem with the first sentence in Seselja’s “survey”, right?

He presents a “drug free” counter-factual for the proposed legislation; that we can either have a “drug free” ACT or we can have decriminalisation. It’s dishonest and manipulative, from the very first sentence. Desperate much?

If Mr Seselja wants to have an over-riding say or even an influence over ACT legislation, then he should cease being a Federal politician and seek election in the ACT Legislative Assembly. I’m not sure who he thinks he is …

Senator Seselja tried that and his ‘application’ for the position of Chief Minister was rejected by the ACT citizen twice in 2008 and 2012.

People are generally fine with the softer more socially acceptable drugs like alcohol or cannabis, and that is reflected in the generous decriminalisation and acceptance of cannabis in ACT for personal private use.

But after seeing the problems with injecting rooms and the damage caused by the hard and synthetic drugs in other places, it wouldn’t be popular to decriminalise socially unacceptable drugs.

What problems with injecting rooms?

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