Mr TARZIA ( Hartley ) ( 11:49 :49 ): I rise today to speak in favour of the Controlled Substances (Simple Possession Offences) Amendment Bill.
Obviously, drugs are a scourge on our society and we need to be doing everything we can to relieve our society from the dangers associated with people who are on drugs, taking drugs, caught up in drugs, etc.
This bill will stop a person charged with a serious drug offence from also being diverted under the PDDI scheme for a simple possession offence that has happened at the same time. I must give credit to the writers of the bill. It is a very sensible bill. I also note in supporting the position that our bill of the same nature could also be spoken about down the track on this issue. The member for Taylor, in her second reading contribution on the bill, on 13 November said:
Whil e the government supports the diversion scheme and opposes the bill , we agree that something does need to be done to deal with people who are clearly abusing the system. For this reason, the government is exploring an alternative proposal involving the use of undertakings.
While this bill is actually minor and somewhat technical, I understand that the government has advised that DASSA has undertaken internal policy changes to the way the assessments are made to enable a tighter and strict treatment of simple possession offenders who offend on multiple occasions within a certain period of time. I understand that stakeholders have been consulted in relation to this bill and that it is has been approved and supported by relevant stakeholders in the area.
At the moment, if someone is charged with, say, serious drug offences, such as manufacturing, but they also happen to have a personal quantity about themselves, this is an example where they might be caught up in the drug diversion process in addition to their serious charges. This can result in overlap and, given that the offenders are already being caught up in the justice system, it can be somewhat time wasting.
I want to make the point that where we can, where there are prospects of rehabilitation, we should be encouraging people affected by these sorts of offences to be rehabilitated, but at the same time, from our point of view as lawmakers, I think we also have to create deterrents and lead in this area by putting a message out to the community that we do not tolerate drugs in our society which, as I said, are a scourge in our society and impact our future generations. We want to be doing everything we can to ensure that our children grow up in a society that is as fair as possible and that our society is not affected by people taking drugs, manufacturing drugs, cultivating drugs, and the like. It is a somewhat simple law, a simple amendment bill, and I commend it to the house.