Pubdate: Wed, 14 Mar 2007
Source: Australian, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2007sThe Australian
Author: Ean Higgins
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


THE NSW Coalition yesterday tried to capitalise on the Greens' 
support for decriminalising hard drugs by calling on Labor to reveal 
and cancel its preference deals with the party.  All major parties 
leapt on the Greens, with Nationals leader Andrew -Stoner describing 
Greens leader Lee Rhiannon as a "watermelon" - green on the outside 
but red inside.

Ms Rhiannon defended the policy, saying that while dealers should be 
punished, individual drug users should be given treatment. "The 
policies of the state Government have failed because it's under the 
Iemma Government that we've had this huge increase in the use of 
drugs like ice," she said.

But Coalition leader Peter Debnam said ice, or methamphetamine, was 
"a scourge on our society".

"Years ago the Greens used to talk about the environment, now they 
talk about damaging experiments," he said.

Premier Morris Iemma described the Greens' proposal as "an absurd, 
ridiculous and disgusting policy" and said any MP who supported it 
was "completely out of touch with reality".

However, Mr Debnam called on Mr Iemma to back his attack on the 
Greens by depriving them of Labor preferences.

"It's not good enough for Morris Iemma just to commentate," Mr Debnam 
said. "He must take action by following through and cancelling the deal."

Mr Iemma said there was no policy element in the preference deal with 
the Greens.

It is understood the Greens will direct preferences to Labor in two 
dozen marginal lower house seats, in exchange for Labor directing 
preferences to the Greens in the upper house, where they hold three seats.

The extent of the Green vote in the lower house, and how many Green 
preferences Labor gets, could prove decisive in several marginal seats.

The Coalition has been trying to discredit the Greens and tinge Labor 
through association by reminding voters of the preference deals.

Earlier in the week, Mr Stoner noted that Ms Rhiannon had said her 
party was looking to Labor to allow gay couples to adopt children.

"Morris Iemma should reveal what concessions he has made in order to 
get the Greens' preferences," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman