Pubdate: Mon, 24 Jul 2000
Source: Courier-Mail, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2000 News Limited
Contact:  GPO Box 130, Brisbane Queensland 4001
Fax: (07) 3666 6696
Author: Sean Parnell
Note: This is a different article than the one published with the same title in
the Age.  It also contains important additional information. See:


THE Beattie Government will go into the next election with a hardline
policy opposing trials of supervised heroin injecting rooms despite a
Labor Party commitment to thoroughly examine the concept first.

Premier Peter Beattie said yesterday the Government remained opposed
to trials of injecting rooms and his view would only change if trials
elsewhere were successful and the concept had widespread community

At the ALP state conference last month, Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim
Soorley moved the party adopt a policy to trial injecting rooms.

However, Cr Soorley agreed with a proposal by Mr Beattie that the
issue be instead examined by the party's health committee and
considered again at the next conference, expected after next year's
state election.

But Mr Beattle said yesterday he believed injecting room trials would
become an election issue and the Government had to give voters a firm

"Even if the next conferonce was to pass a policy in favour of them,
the timing's up to us, the Government," Mr Beattie said yesterday.

"And I've already indicated it may take 30 or 40 years for that
climate (community opinion) to change."

Cr Soorley said yesterday he had acted in good faith at the conference
despite having the votes to pass the motion and believed Mr Beattie
was wrong in his view of community opinion about injecting rooms.

"I am disappointed the Premier thinks he is the font of all wisdom on
such a complex issue," Cr Soorley said.

"There is no easy solution. I'm the first to acknowledge it, but what
we must do is enter into dialogue with the community to find some
solutions to save young people's lives."

Mr Beattie said he had found no evidence of injecting rooms overseas
having any success or showing any benefits and believed the
Government's wider drug strategies were more appropriate.

"Too often what happens here, the conservative side of politics tries
to turn this into an election issue, then you get my side of polities
that too often looks at gimmicks because they want to look terrific,"
Mr Beattie said.

"I'm not interested in either. I want to make sure we have something
that actually works."

But Cr Soorley said the proposal was not a gimmick and governments
should undertake "hard-nosed trials of every possibility, ruthlessly
research-driven" to find a solution to the drug problem.

"There is hard evidence of bodies in the street that what we're
currently doing is not working," Cr Soorley said.

Cr Soorley also criticised a delay of between six weeks and eight
weeks for drug rehabilitation in Brisbane and laws which did not strip
drug traffickers of unexplained assets.

State Cabinet today is expected to agree to be part of a Federal
Government programme of drug diversionary strategies which will
culminate with more than $9 million in annual federal funding in 2002-2003.

The laws will give police the power to divert certain people caught
with marijuana for personal use to rehabilitation programmes instead
of the criminal justice system.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek