Pubdate: Wed, 20 Oct 1999

Source: Canberra Times (Australia)



Author: Catriona Jackson


A majority of states would soon be in favour of a heroin trial, making it very hard hard for Prime Minister John Howard to block it, ACT Health Minister Michael Moore said yesterday.

Speaking after the announcement by incoming Victorian Premier Steve Bracks that five injecting rooms would be set up in the state, Mr Moore said the tide was turning on drug policy. The establishment of injecting rooms in the two most populous states, NSW and Victoria, as well as in the ACT, significantly enhanced the prospect of further progressive harm-reduction measures, such as a heroin trial.

Mr Moore said it had recently become clear that there was much less need for a change to federal legislation in order to run a trial than had been thought.

If a number of states decided to begin trials at the same time, the Prime Minister would be very hard pressed to stop them.

Mr Bracks said the Victorian injecting rooms would be run for an 18-month trial, and would go ahead as soon as local councils agreed.

Four local authorities had already expressed interest in opening rooms.

Mr Moore said cooperation between the jurisdictions was now essential, and he had spoken with the NSW Health Minister, Craig Knowles, several times, and contacted Victoria's incoming Health Minister, John Thwaites, yesterday.

It would be particularly important to work together on the clinical trials of injecting rooms, so that data could be compared, and more significant scientific results gained.

Federal Labor Leader Kim Beazley spoke yesterday in favour of Mr Bracks' action, saying he and NSW Labor Premier Bob Carr were on top of the issues.

Commenting on the safe injecting place during Assembly debate yesterday, Independent Dave Rugendyke said it would dog Labor Leader Jon Stanhope, as Labor support was required to get it through the Assembly. ' Stanhope's Shooting-up Shrine' , Mr Rugendyke said, would cost at least $1 million, and ACT taxpayers would not support it.