In Question Time on Wednesday 21 April 2021, I asked the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services about whether the Government would consider the establishment of public drug testing services.
You can read the answer below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).
Mr BERKMAN: My question is to the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services. Earlier this month a Victorian coroner joined countless experts and retired senior police in calling for a public drug checking service following the preventable deaths of five young men who unknowingly took a fatal substance that they thought was MDMA and magic mushrooms. Will the government urgently introduce public drug checking services before more Queenslanders needlessly lose their lives?
Mrs D’ATH: I thank the member for his question. I have just spoken about issues associated with mental health and drug and alcohol treatment. We are investing in those services in the community. We believe that that is the way we should be tackling those important issues. As a government we pride ourselves on dealing on issues involving drugs such as ice in our community. We know that the problems involving some of those drugs are impacting our entire community. Many issues such as housing, child support and crime are underpinned by drug, alcohol and mental health issues.
I am happy to look at the report that the member refers to. In the last parliamentary sitting week I think the member may have attended the presentation given by our Mental Health Commissioner. It was a really important presentation in which the commissioner talked about the impact on the community of mental health, drug and alcohol issues, and that there is a range of conversations that we need to have around those issues and how best to manage them in the community. Whether it is changes in policies, whether it is laws, whether it is further resources investment or education—all of those things—we need to continue to have those really important conversations in the community.
We have to be careful not to race off and assume that one change will fix all of these problems. There are pros and cons and unintended consequences to some of the proposals that the member is talking about. Simply saying that this drug is not laced with something toxic does not mean that it will not kill you. You have to be really careful about the context in which you look at these things and about the consequences of your actions. This is something where, whatever you do, you have to bring the community with you. Most importantly, you have to act on health advice, which is something that as a government we pride ourselves on. You must act on health advice first and foremost. You must know what is going to be in the best interests of individuals to keep them safe. If that is the start of the conversation and it leads the conversation, certainly we would welcome that dialogue across the community and across the parliament.