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.
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.
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“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.
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.