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This project had its genesis in a desire of a group of Parliamentarians across Australia to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of international experts attending a conference on harm reduction in Hobart, Tasmania, in March 1996. Although divided by political affiliations and geography, these parliamentarians were united in the view that drugs - legal and illegal - cause considerable suffering in our community and that current approaches have been relatively ineffective, especially in regard to illegal drugs. The panel was impressed by the consistency of views among the experts. We have been stimulated to keep fighting for more effective drug policies even though at times the obstacles seem insurmountable. There can be no denial of the fact that community attitudes to drugs are changing, just as they changed in previous decades to other aspects of society as diverse as abortion, homosexuality and gambling. The choice seems to be between living in the real world or trying to live in a world as we would like it to be.

Politicians have to live in a world of reality. They have no choice. We might wish that drugs like heroin would go away but that will never happen. Some will choose to use such drugs and others will be happy to provide them. Slowly, we have learnt that we cannot eliminate the desire to consume just as we cannot eliminate a willingness to profit from supplying drugs. We now know that we can, at great expense, make the situation far worse than it need be.

In democracies, politicians sometimes lead and at other times must be content to follow. All of the members of our group have invested considerable time to acquaint themselves with the intricacies of this problem. We have no wish to compete with the international experts, although many delegates commented favourably about our knowledge. We accept responsibility to use our knowledge in the search for more effective approaches. We are now reconfirmed in our view that this search must go on and that a substantial reduction in drug related harm will only occur when major drug reform has taken place. That will only happen when leaders such as ourselves are prepared to show the courage of our convictions. Progress will not occur while lazy and incompetent criminals can earn a vast fortune selling small quantities of drugs. Our challenge is to change the nature of the market.

APPENDIX A Witnesses Appearing before the Inquiry

Buning, Dr Ernst, Psychologist, Bureau International Affairs, Amsterdam Municipal Health Services, The Netherlands.

Caulkins, Dr Jonathan, Associate Professor of Operations, Research and Public, Public Policy School, Carnegie University, Co-Director RAND's Drug Policy Research Centre, Mellon University/RAND, Pittsburgh, USA

Dolan, Kate, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Sydney, Australia

Drucker, Prof Ernest, Professor of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, Chair of International Harm Reduction Association, USA.

Erickson, Dr Patricia, Senior Scientist, Addiction Research Foundation, Toronto; Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Canada.

Fromberg, Dr Erik, Chief, Training Methodology Department, Institute of Alcohol and Drugs. Teacher, Central School of Criminal Investigation, The Netherlands.

Haemmig, Dr Robert, Psychiatrist, Medical Director, Drugs Branch, University of Psychiatric Services, Berne, Switzerland.

Johnson, Commissioner John - Commissioner of Police, Tasmania. Chairman, Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence, Australia.

Kendall, Raymond, Secretary-General, Interpol, Paris, France.

McClelland, Alison, Deputy Director, Brotherhood of St Lawrence, Australia.

McCoy, Professor Alfred, Lecturer, South East Asian History, University of Wisconsin, USA.

McCready, Richard, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Tasmania. Chairman of the National Drug Strategy Committee. Past Chairman of the National Drug Crime Prevention Fund, Australia.

Millar, Dr Tony, Director of Research, Lewisham Sports Medicine Clinic, Sydney, Australia

Moodie, Dr Rob, Director, Division of Country Support, UNAIDS.

Rana, Sujanta, President, Lifesaving and Lifegiving Society (LALS), Nepal.

Reuter, Professor Peter, Professor of School of Public Affairs, Department of Criminology, University of Maryland, USA.

Riley, Professor Diane, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada.

Samson, Luke, Head of Sharan, a voluntary organisation assisting those in deprived socio- economic areas in New Delhi, India.

Shields, Bernadette, Director, Aboriginal Living with Alcohol Program, Northern Territory Health Services., Australia.

Strang, John, Director, National Addiction Centre, London, UK.

Sutton, Dr Adam, Senior Lecturer, Department of Criminology, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Vontobel, Urs, Operation Manager, Crossline Clinic, Social Welfare Department, Zurich, Switzerland.


This Charter seeks to encourage a more rational, tolerant, non-judgemental, humanitarian and understanding approach to people who currently use illicit drugs in our community. The aims of the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform are to minimise the adverse health, social and economic consequences of Australia's policies and laws controlling drug use and supply.



The members of the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform recognise:

We therefore,

Part B:

Urgent Reforms

The Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform recognises:

Therefore, the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform calls for the urgent adoption of harm minimisation strategies throughout Australia including:

Part C:

Short Term Goals

In dealing with drugs of dependence and psychotropic substances in the short term, the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform calls for:

Part D:

Long Term Goals

The Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform calls for a commitment to undermine the black market and illicit drug trade with its inherent problems by adopting the following long term goals:


ACT Legislative Assembly, Select Committee on HIV, Illegal Drugs and Prostitution -

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Albrecht, H-J and A van Kalmthout, Drug Policies in Western Europe, Freiburg, 1989

Barnacle, H, Women and Drugs, Women and Imprisonment, Women and Imprisonment Group, Fitzroy Legal Centre, 1995

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Carney, T, Drug Users and The Law in Australia, Law Book Company, 1987

Collins, D J and H M Lapsley, Estimating the Economic Costs of Drug Abuse in Australia, Department of Community Services and the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse,


Correctional Services Canada, HIV/AIDS in Prisons: Final Report of the Expert Committee on AIDS in Prisons, Ottawa, Minister of Supply and Services, Canada, 1994.

Fox, R and I Mathews, Drug Policy: Fact, Fiction and the Future, Federation Press, 1991

Grinspoon, L, Marihuana Reconsidered, Oakland, 1995

Grinspoon, L and J B Bakalar, Marihuana- The Forbidden Medicine, Yale University Press, 1993

Manderson, D, From Mr Sin to Mr Big, A History of Australian Drug Laws, Oxford University Press, 1993

Maure, M, "The Drug War's Unequal Justice", The Drug Policy Letter, No 28, Winter, 1996, pp 11 ff

Moore, M. "Drug Law Reform: The Costs of Prohibition - An Alternative", Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Journal, April, 1996

Prisons and Blood borne Communicable Diseases: The Community Policy, AIDS Council of NSW, 1995

Stevenson, R, Winning The War On Drugs: To Legalise Or Not? Institute of Economic Affairs, London, 1994

Traver, H H and M S Gaylord, Drugs, Law and The State, University of Hong Kong Press, 1992

Wodak, A and R Owens, Drug Prohibition: A Call for Change, University of New South Wales Press, 1996

Zahra, P, and R Arden, Drug Law in New South Wales, The Federation Press, 1991
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