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National drags feet on drug laws to protect young Kiwis

Iain Lees-Galloway
Associate Health Spokesperson

9 April 2013

National drags feet on drug laws to protect young Kiwis

National has failed to make protecting young New Zealanders from dangerous drugs a priority, Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says.

“The Psychoactive Substances Bill will finally have its first reading today following years of indecision by the government on how it wants to tackle ‘legal highs’.

“Unfortunately that dithering also means we are looking at a greatly reduced time for public submissions to ensure legislation goes through before temporary bans legislated for nearly two years ago lapse.

“Labour will support the reduced hearing, but only because we know how long parents have had to wait for the Government to get its act together. There are still unanswered questions about why it has taken so long to progress this legislation.

“The Law Commission Report Controlling and Regulating Drugs – A Review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, initiated by the Labour Government, was released on May 3rd 2011. That report contained the recommendation that the Psychoactive Substances Bill seeks to implement.

“So why has it taken nearly two years for the Government to act? Why, when the bill was ready in February, did the Government not send it to select committee straight away so the submissions could be heard?

“The only answer must be that protecting our kids just isn’t a priority for this National-led Government.

“This isn’t a minor bill. For the first time, the New Zealand Parliament is expected to pass legislation that will establish a pathway for some drugs to be made legal. That is a significant change to our drug laws and not one to be taken lightly. The select committee should not be expected to simply rubber-stamp the Government’s proposals.

“We are proud of our robust democracy in New Zealand. But once again John Key’s Government is riding roughshod over New Zealanders’ rights to participate in our law making. National needs to tidy up its act and start working in the interests of New Zealanders.”

ENDS

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