Pubdate: Wed, 17 Sep 2008
Source:  Advocate, The (Australia)
Author: Sean Ford
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Youth)


PREMIER David Bartlett is the only Tasmanian political leader who will
not say if he has ever smoked cannabis.

Liberal Leader Will Hodgman and Greens Leader Nick McKim both owned up
to The Advocate last week, following a revelation from newly appointed
New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees that he smoked marijuana as a young man.

Mr Bartlett ducked the question.

After two days spent pursuing his minders, Mr Bartlett's only response
to a series of drug-related questions was a brief statement answering
one relating to the Youth Parliament's discussion of legalising cannabis.

Mr Hodgman responded promptly to The Advocate's cannabis questions,
saying: "Yes, about 20 years ago I did and it's not something I would

Mr McKim took the best part of two days to respond, but was heavily
involved in committee hearings.

He provided a simple "Yes" as his answer.

We also asked the leaders if they supported random drug testing of

Mr Bartlett did not answer that either.

Mr Hodgman said: "I am happy for that to be considered."

Mr McKim said: "We would need to see more detail before

This newspaper approached the leaders after rumours began circulating
early last week that sitting Tasmanian MPs were using marijuana.

The Advocate put several extra questions to Mr Bartlett.

One asked if he would sack any Labor MP using marijuana.

The newspaper also asked about his attitude to cannabis, if he
believed many state MPs used drugs and if he would consider legalising
marijuana if the Youth Parliament supported it.

(That motion, from Marist Regional College, was not

Mr Bartlett's only answer to any of the questions was: "A whole range
of issues have been debated in Youth Parliament this week and I am
looking forward to reviewing recommendations that come out of that

"It is always encouraging to see young people take an active interest
in our democracy."

Pubdate: 18 Sep 2008
Source:  Advocate, The (Australia)
Address: 54 Mount St., PO Box 63, Burnie, Tasmania 7320
Copyright: 2008. Fairfax Media
Author: Sean Ford

Question of honesty

PREMIER David Bartlett owned up to having smoked dope yesterday, eight
days after The Advocate first asked the question.

Mr Bartlett's simple "yes" admission followed his rival party leaders
- Liberal Will Hodgman and Green Nick McKim - owning up to past
cannabis use in a story in The Advocate yesterday.

Tony McCall, from the UTAS School of Government, said yesterday's
story showed Mr Bartlett's "zeal for reform and transparency doesn't
appear to extend to his personal habits".

"So be it, but Extending Trust in Democracy should include a simple
answer to a simple question," Mr McCall said.

"His failure to respond does fit an emerging post-state party
conference trend.

"Since the conference, the doyens of the Labor Party have put a brake
on his go-it-alone approach to government and that makes the
manufacture of an answer a complex and contested task."

Meanwhile, Mr Bartlett said parliament would be the proper place to
discuss any proposal for random drug-testing politicians.

"I believe in making informed decisions that are supported by
evidence-based data," he said.

"Nothing has been presented to me on this particular

Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest said random drug testing in
workplaces was usually done when people were operating heavy machinery
and/ or responsible for others' safety.

`We might not be responsible for someone's immediate physical safety,
but we are making decisions that affect people where they live and

"We need to have our wits about us.

"I would not have a problem (with testing) at all."