Wednesday, 18 August 2010


27 July 2010 COUNCIL

To the Legislative Council of Victoria:

The petition of certain citizens of the state of Victoria draws to the attention of the Legislative Council that as electors entitled to vote for the members of the Parliament, we judge the close proximity to our community of the proposed six-lane Surf Coast Highway connection (Geelong Ring Road, section 4C) to be extremely bad for our community, diminishing our quality of life and devaluing our houses. This proposed highway has not been subjected to community consultation during its planning process which has not been conducted in an honest, open or transparent manner, contrary to the core values of the Geelong City Council and VicRoads.

The petitioners therefore request that the Legislative Council of Victoria note that our will is that if the highway is built, we require it to be built south along the Boundary Road alignment which is south of its present planned route, where it would go through as much vacant land as possible, adversely affecting as few residents as possible. If it is build in the currently planned position, the petitioners will hold the state government and VicRoads responsible for any loss of value of our properties and reduction in our quality of life, through increased noise levels and air pollution that will result from the close proximity of the construction of this proposed highway to our homes.

By Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) (894 signatures).

Laid on table.


28 July 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- Earlier this month Bob Carr publicly praised the Democratic Labor Party as being fundamentally correct in its assessment of the infiltration of the ALP by communists. He wrote:

... the bombshell ... is the system of dual membership of the ALP and the CPA, something long suspected but now spelt out by the ASIO documents ...

The implications are huge.

He added that the revelations vindicate the Democratic Labor Party and said:

... the DLP indictment of the ramshackle Labor Party ... was mostly right.

He says the evidence is that probably two Whitlam government ministers were also members of the Communist Party.

Mr Carr is also reported as saying:

Calwell accommodated himself to the communist-dominated Victorian state ALP executive and finally, absurdly, joined in even while serving as federal leader.

An editorial in the Australian says that Frank Hardy, among other people, was accepting money from the Soviet Union for his propaganda work in Australia, but this is not widely known because of the Marxist domination of history faculties.

By its nature communism inherently means mass murder and an economic backwardness to the point of widespread cannibalism.

For a long time the efforts and concerns of anti-communists have been ridiculed with the phrase 'Reds under the beds', but the truth is that the documents show that Communist Party members were not under the beds but were in the universities and also in the halls of political power, including the party executives, Australian parliaments and cabinet rooms under the aegis of the ALP after 1955.

It is a disgrace that this issue has not been taken up by the press in Victoria; it has been totally ignored.


27 July 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Small Business, Joe Helper, and relates to the laws that govern leases in shopping centres. I was recently visited in my electorate office by a former lessor of retail premises in a Geelong shopping centre. This businessman in effect had his business and livelihood destroyed by the power of the shopping centre where he had previously leased premises. I use the word 'power' advisedly because there is usually, and there was in this case, a gross power imbalance between the lessors and the lessees in shopping centres.

The businessman and the shopping centre both knew he was being treated unfairly and in a way that constituted a civil wrong. The businessman sued and won an award of damages, which both parties fully expected.

The problem is that Victoria's legislation makes it very difficult to obtain an order for costs even if you are initiating unsuccessful litigation. This deficiency in the laws and regulations has contributed, in the opinion of this businessman, to a decision by the shopping centre to appeal. Even if the shopping centre loses, the businessman's net proceeds are likely to almost disappear through his having to bear his own costs.

The action I am seeking from the minister is for him to review the present legislation and regulations that govern shopping centre leases in Victoria with a view to alleviating the power imbalance between shopping centre lessors and lessees. Specifically I ask the minister to consider possible amendments to relevant legislation and regulations which would allow courts to award costs against unsuccessful litigants where it would be just to do so and thereby prevent the use of raw monetary power in ways that are inconsistent with the attainment of justice.


12 August 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- Next week, 18 August, is Long Tan Day, and in the lead-up to that occasion I wish to repeat my call for a national


sorry day for Australia's returned servicemen from Vietnam. These Australians gave great service in the defence of South Vietnam and in the service of Australia during that war. Unfortunately many of them were very badly treated upon their return to Australia. Since I made this call a couple of months ago many of them have written to me and confirmed that some of their problems are the result of the way that they were treated upon their return to Australia, and some of them say that a national sorry day would indeed help to overcome some of the difficulties and challenges that they have faced since their return from Vietnam.


24 June 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- The triumph of Australia's extreme left in Canberra today raises an item of unfinished national business. With Vietnam Veterans Day looming on 18 August, I call on the commonwealth to institute a national sorry day to apologise to Vietnam veterans for the disgraceful way they were treated after giving valiant service to Australia -- directly to the defence of South Vietnam, and indirectly to the defence of Cambodia and Laos.

On their return from Vietnam, Australian soldiers were not paid the respect that their overwhelmingly honourable and often humanitarian service deserved. In fact they were often treated with derision and contempt, sometimes being returned home to Australia at night to avoid rabid demonstrators -- the political predecessors to our new Prime Minister and her soul mates.

This was not because of the actions of the Vietnam veterans themselves, but because the cause for which they fought, rightly or wrongly, became unpopular. There is considerable opinion that this mistreatment has greatly contributed to post-traumatic stress disorder and other health problems that many Vietnam veterans have had to face in trying to re-establish happy lives.

Yesterday I spoke with a DLP member who is a Vietnam veteran; he is in terrible pain and physical agony from the wounds he received in the Vietnam War. What I am mainly talking about here, though, are the psychological difficulties and other associated obstacles that Vietnam veterans must face. There is reason to believe that a sincere national apology to Vietnam veterans might well, even at this late stage, help those men who served Australia as well. I call for a one-off national sorry day on 18 August, or somewhere around that date, to express an apology to Australia's Vietnam veterans -- they deserve more from this country than they have received.


10 June 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My matter is for the Minister for Energy and Resources and relates to the development of geothermal power and greenhouse gas sequestration, particularly in and around Gherang in my electorate of Western Victoria Region. The majority of residents of Gherang and surrounding areas are not at all enthusiastic about the development of geothermal power around their houses, farms and businesses. Most of them are extremely concerned for the beauty, peacefulness and safety of their homes and neighbourhoods, which are located in some of Victoria's prettiest countryside.

Gherang residents have, however, chosen not to simply oppose the geothermal development. Under the leadership of local resident Daniel Briggs and others, they have developed a series of proposed regulations and safeguards, which, if incorporated into the proposed development, would meet their minimum demands.

The professionally drafted policy briefing package that has been put together by and on behalf of local residents includes 35 policies -- that is, restrictions and safeguards. Most of these suggested requirements seem to be extremely reasonable, such as buffer zones around homes.

I congratulate those involved in developing this policy briefing package and ask the government to seriously consider this document, which I will forward to the minister, and incorporate these suggested safeguards into the regulatory framework that deals with geothermal developments and greenhouse gas sequestration.


10 March 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- On the evening of Thursday, 4 March, I attended a community meeting at the Wurdale community hall. At that meeting were a large number of residents of Gherang and surrounding areas. The meeting was organised by Daniel and Matthew Briggs.

The people at that meeting expressed deep concern that their area has been selected to be the site of a major geothermal project. The local residents were outraged that they were never consulted about this and indeed only found out about it through one of the local residents happening to stumble across it on the internet. They were also angry that the responsible minister, the Minister for Energy and Resources, has consistently refused to meet or consult with them.

The residents are concerned about a wide range of risks to their health and to the local environment, including carbon dioxide emissions and, as happened at a geothermal site in Switzerland, man-made earthquakes, ground subsidence, a possible leaching of toxic fluids above the ground, and a wide range of other potential problems.

I urge the government to consult with the local residents around Gherang and come up with plans in conjunction with the developer of this project to ensure that the local environment is protected and respected and that any risks to the health or welfare of local people in Gherang and the surrounding areas are averted.


9 June 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health and relates to the apparent link between abortion and breast cancer. During the abortion debate in this Parliament in late 2008 I went into considerable detail, listing some of the scientific evidence which demonstrates that having an abortion increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. Even more recent scientific studies released in 2009 confirm such a link.

Concerned Victorians who have some expertise in these matters have reported to me that they have approached various health organisations and health leaders in Victoria to alert them to the latest research, but they have not received any acknowledgement or any other kind of response.

The submitted research includes the following: Ozmen V. and others in 'Breast cancer risk factors in Turkish women' in the World Journal of Surgical Oncology, 2009, 7:37; Xing P. and others in 'A case-control study of reproductive factors associated with subtypes of breast cancer in Northeast China' in Medical Oncology, e-publication online, September 2009; Dolle J. and others in 'Risk factors for triple-negative breast cancer in women under the age of 45 years' in Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009, 18(4), pages 1157-1166.

Apparently these important warnings are being ignored by the health authorities to which they are being reported. It seems difficult to avoid the conclusion that ideological commitment to unrestricted abortion may be preventing a proper assessment of the health risks of abortion.

The action I seek from the minister is that he seek an objective review of the evidence of a relationship between abortions and breast cancer risk, and if such a link is shown to exist, to issue medical warnings along these lines, even if this has the effect of reducing the number of abortions.


8 June 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Agriculture in his capacity as fisheries minister and relates to Corio Bay. I have recently been visited in my Geelong office by several local fishermen who have decades of experience fishing in Corio Bay. They told me that over recent years they have seen fish stocks almost wiped out in Corio Bay, which is a fish nursery for the whole of the greater bay. These fishermen blame excessive commercial fishing in Corio Bay and state that catches are now a small fraction of what they were around a decade ago. It seems that the permanent ban on line fishing in Western Port may be one factor detrimentally affecting fish levels in Corio Bay.

The destruction of fishing in Corio Bay will have consequences far beyond those to be inflicted on people who make their living directly from catching and selling its fish. It will have knock-on effects for those in a range of industries, such as boat hire businesses, and would be detrimental to tourism generally as well as to the recreational opportunities available to local residents.

I do not by any means seek a permanent ban on commercial fishing in Corio Bay. I am seeking from the minister action to protect and rebuild Corio Bay's remaining fish stocks to ensure they are managed in a sustainable manner.

This would seem likely to involve instituting a temporary pause on commercial fishing in Corio Bay, perhaps requiring compensation for those whose livelihoods would be affected, and regulating future fishing in a way that ensures fish survive in Corio Bay and remain available for future generations.


13 August 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health, the Honourable Daniel Andrews, and it relates to the effects of wind turbines. Yesterday the government announced a new and extremely large wind turbine development in this state. As a member for Western Victoria Region it seems to me that perhaps the government does not understand the extent of hostility and concern about wind turbines in western Victoria about the noise nuisance and even the degradation of the landscape, which comes from dotting the prettiest parts of our state with gigantic pieces of industrial equipment.

The government has already done some perfunctory studies of the health effects of turbines and has concluded that they do not show clear health risks. This is a conclusion inconsistent with some published studies.


The action I seek is for the minister to commit to reviewing new, just-published studies of the health effects of wind turbines, some of which suggest that there are good reasons to be concerned.


27 May 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My question is to the Minister for Planning, Mr Madden, and relates to approval guidelines for wind farms. On 27 April this year, in rejecting The Sisters wind farm proposal near Mortlake, VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) determined that the appropriate standards for making planning decisions on wind farms are the New Zealand standards of 2010 -- an update of the 1998 New Zealand standards. The 2010 standards effectively offer marginally more protection to local residents than the outdated 1998 standards. The minister has called in the Yaloak South project, which is very similar in scale to The Sisters proposal and would probably not comply with the 2010 standard and would therefore probably not have got approval from VCAT. The Department of Planning and Community Development has, however, officially stated, as of two days ago, that, and I quote, 'the DPCD uses the New Zealand 1998 standard for determining wind farm standards'. Would it not be more appropriate in 2010 to apply 2010 standards rather than outdated, 12-year-old standards, even if this means that projects the minister might personally support might not go ahead?

Hon. J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Planning) -- I welcome Mr Kavanagh's interest in these matters.

There is a great deal of interest in the policy positions of parties in this state in relation to wind farms. There is interest on a number of fronts in relation to wind farms, particularly because, as Mr Kavanagh mentioned, of the new New Zealand standards for wind farms that have been introduced this year. We are particularly interested in those new standards, and we are committed as a government to ensuring that the best standards are introduced. We are currently undertaking work at a national level with other jurisdictions to make sure that any upgrade, update or consideration given to improving those standards is done on the basis of a national approach.

I recognise the interest of many people in the community in the introduction of the new New Zealand standards, and I am also very enthusiastic about that being undertaken. But we are committed to a national approach on wind farms and we are committed to having a national standard through agreements with other jurisdictions.

There will always be those who advocate strongly for or against wind farms for various reasons, and there is legitimacy on both fronts as to why people may or may not consider wind farms appropriate for whatever reason. I certainly welcome people's opportunity to have input to that. That is why I recently -- --

Honourable members interjecting.

Hon. J. M. MADDEN -- That is why I agreed to the request of the Moorabool shire to ensure that the cumulative impacts of the wind farm facilities that have been applied for or are being considered in its jurisdiction. I was conscious of the need to have cumulative impacts considered when you have a number of wind facilities located close to each other. As part of that there will be an opportunity for those who feel strongly one way or the other to make their representations to advisory committees in relation to these projects.

Those matters can then be considered in a coordinated manner and in relation to the cumulative impacts.

As a government we have a great deal of enthusiasm for wind projects, but we also recognise the need to have them thoroughly considered, particularly on technical merit and technical grounds. We have also listened to local government, which has said to us -- and said directly to me quite recently -- that, given the technical requirements, the high degree of complexity and the need for significant investment in the assessment and monitoring of these applications and these facilities, it would prefer the government become the relevant authority for all projects, not just for projects of over 30 megawatts.

We have listened to communities and local governments in relation to this. We have certainly listened to the Moorabool shire's request to have these matters dealt with by the government.

As such I have nominated that I will become the relevant authority.

It is also worth considering that there is a significant process by which an independent advisory committee will hear submissions, assess the technical merit on all fronts of these projects and provide advice to me and the department on these projects. I look forward to that. I recognise the issues they may raise may even include those new standards or relevant issues in relation to those standards.

Supplementary question

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- I thank the minister for the answer. But is not the real reason that outdated standards are used because it may allow the department to say wind farms are a nuisance and even do damage to neighbouring properties?

Hon. J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Planning) -- I welcome Mr Kavanagh's question. Can I just pick up on Mr Kavanagh's impression that wind farms might do damage to neighbours or to communities. That is a pejorative term that Mr Kavanagh has chosen to use which I do not think complements the needs and the matters that should be considered by communities and by the relevant authorities and the independent process by which these projects are assessed. Any project of any stature in any community that requires a planning permit will allow people to make comment, and I think that comment is a good thing.

Some would say that wind farms are not good; some would say they are fantastic. I have an open mind on all fronts to any project that comes before me and that requires a decision. I would suggest that each project should be considered on its merits, should be considered appropriately by the independent panel and should be considered not only on its technical merits but also the justification in relation to the location and all those other issues that warrant consideration. That should determine whether a project is or is not a good project.

I expect that appropriate decisions will be made, on the basis of that advice.

However, to suggest that all wind farm or wind turbine projects are damaging is one step too far, because at the end of the day, they provide jobs in local communities, they provide cleaner energy and they provide economic development across regional Victoria, not only for those immediate locations but for the other industries that maintain services and complement the industry in regional Victoria.

I recognise Mr Kavanagh's concern, and I realise there are those in the community who feel strongly about these projects. It is important to recognise that. I also recognise that there are people who feel strongly and positively towards these sorts of projects. Both of those positions have to be considered in relation to any project on its merits.

Honourable members interjecting.

Hon. J. M. MADDEN -- It is interesting to hear the comments from the opposition members in relation to these projects. Straightaway they are taking a position where, obviously from the comments I have heard across the chamber today, they do not believe any wind farm project has any merit. We have seen that through the policy announcements made by Mr Baillieu recently, that he would be quite happy to stymie this fledgling industry at a time when it is more important than ever to deliver jobs to regional Victoria and, in relation to energy provision, not only into regional Victoria but more broadly into Victoria, clean energy which complements the traditional energy provision that has taken place in this state.

I recognise Mr Kavanagh's interest in these matters. I recognise that he has a particular view. I do not necessarily agree with that view. I believe that each project should be assessed on its merits and all the technical provisions that need to be considered.

I also recognise from the comments made by the likes of Mr Finn and others on the opposition back benches and front benches that they have a jaundiced view of wind energy in this state. Unfortunately that jaundiced view has informed their policy position, which would kill wind energy in this state overnight.


27 May 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Environment and Climate Change and relates to wind farms in the Waubra area. The Shire of Pyrenees and others have been calling on the Environment Protection Agency to visit Waubra and conduct an environmental safety study of the wind farms there. The Minister for Planning has recently stated publicly that the EPA will undertake an environmental study of Waubra's wind farms if it is invited to do so. It has been invited to do so many times. The action I seek is that the minister organise for the EPA to visit Waubra and undertake just such a study of whether the environment there is safe or not.


2 February 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- On Sunday I attended and spoke in the tiny township of Evansford, north of Ballarat. The meeting was attended by about 60 people who are all deeply concerned about the health effects of wind farms, which now dominate the landscape. In my address to the meeting I noted the legal principle established in the landmark case of Rylands v. Fletcher -- that is, that a person is not entitled to do something on his property which adversely affects a neighbour. It seems to me, as I said then, that this principle is applicable to noise as well as to other potential hazards. I noted too the ancient rule in medicine: do no harm. Wisdom dictates that we should not engage in behaviour that is potentially harmful, even if that harm has not yet been proven.

Democratic principles also demand that local people should decide local issues for themselves. Those in Evansford who have dealt with government members of Parliament have been surprised at their indifference and indeed the cavalier attitude they usually take to this issue.

I urge the government to change its attitude and to listen to people who are affected adversely by wind farms and to change the regulations so that wind farms in the future do not cause damage to people near whom they are located.


Statement of compatibility

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) tabled following statement in accordance with Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act:

In accordance with section 28 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, I make this statement of compatibility with respect to the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (prohibition of Display and Sale of Bongs) Bill 2010.

In my opinion, the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (prohibition of Display and Sale of Bongs) Bill 2010 is compatible with the human rights that are protected by the charter.

The purpose of this bill is to amend the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 to prohibit the display and sale of bongs and to limit the display of hookahs.

There is at least one human rights issue addressed in the charter which is possibly raised by the bill. Property rights are dealt with under division 2 of the bill which provides for the seizure of bongs and hookahs and their components in certain circumstances.

Under section 20 of the charter, 'A person must not be deprived of his or her property other than in accordance with law'.

If the bill is passed, any seizure of bongs, hookahs or their components will be allowed only according to law and would therefore would not be contrary to the charter.

Second reading

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Prohibition of Display and Sale of Bongs) Bill 2010 is to discourage the public display and sale of bongs in Victoria. No doubt, even if this bill is passed it will not completely end the sale and display of bongs, but there are still very good reasons for its enactment.

Those reasons include curtailing the harm to physical and mental health done by marijuana, limiting the power of this drug to lead to other even more destructive and addictive drugs and reducing the encouragement that the open display and sale of bongs gives to young people to begin consuming cannabis.

Opponents of marijuana have long been ridiculed by its proponents. Many of us have probably watched the film Reefer Madness at university, for example. Reefer Madness, made in 1936, presented the case against marijuana in ways that seemed absurd to later generations. It has often been shown in more recent times in order to ridicule the film's basic contentions that marijuana is harmful and properly illegal. The style of that film made its warnings appear nonsensical to audiences of the 60s and beyond, but its basic message -- that marijuana consumption is harmful -- is even truer today than it was when the film was made.

The debate in Australia over marijuana has hardly changed in more than 40 years even though, over that period of time, the drug itself has changed dramatically. Marijuana is no longer the relatively mild drug that it was in the 1960s. Its active component, THC, has increased dramatically. Some researchers claim that, through genetic engineering, the THC content of marijuana has increased from about 1 per cent around 1970 to more than 30 per cent in some cases today. During the first quarter of 2009, University of Mississippi researchers reported that the THC content of 'super pot' seized during the period was 27.3 per cent, and some samples had up to 37.2 per cent THC content (quarterly report -- potency monitoring project, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 15 March 2009, page 6). Some dispute this degree of increase in the potency of cannabis, but it is clear that whatever the precise degree of increase, marijuana is now much more powerful than it was a few decades ago, even though the public debate and assumptions about marijuana being a soft drug have hardly changed at all.

Marijuana consumption is clearly very dangerous to physical and mental health. In respect of mental health there is an obvious and very strong link between marijuana use and the development of mental illnesses including schizophrenia and paranoia. This is so easily observed among regular marijuana users that it hardly needs elucidation here.

In the face of a huge preponderance of evidence, those who defend cannabis argue that people who are prone to mental problems are the very people who smoke marijuana in the first place. Some proponents of marijuana argue that cannabis merely brings out mental problems among those who have pre-existing dispositions; but is that not being a bit too clever? Does it not amount to playing with words?

The fact is that many young people who are developing mental illnesses would never have manifested or developed such problems if they had never smoked marijuana. Yesterday three ladies visited me in my office here in Parliament House. They told me that among their children they have a total of four or five sons who now have severe drug dependency problems. Those men are now all aged in their early 30s. Those ladies fear that all of their sons will die very soon as a result of drug addiction. They told me that their sons began their many years of drug abuse by using marijuana in their teens and that the majority of them showed clear signs of marijuana consumption by an obvious deterioration in their behaviour, including uncharacteristic aggression and in some cases violence.

In 2002 the British Medical Journal published the results of a study undertaken on cannabis use and mental health in young people (BMJ volume 325, 23 November 2002). The study was based on a review of 1601 middle school students in 44 schools right here in Victoria. undertaken by a team led by George C. Patton, professor of adolescent health at the Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville. The study showed that some 60 per cent of participants had used cannabis by the age of 20, and 7 per cent were daily users at that point.

Daily use in young women was associated with an over fivefold increase in the odds of reporting a state of depression and anxiety after adjustment for intercurrent use of other substances. Weekly or more frequent cannabis use in teenagers predicted an approximately twofold increase in risk for later depression and anxiety after adjustment for potential baseline confounders.

In addition to problems that we all know about resulting from marijuana use, being schizophrenia and paranoia, depression and anxiety are also long-term problems for marijuana users.

The damage being done by cannabis is not limited to the brain. In 2008 Dr Richard Beasley, director of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, and his colleagues reported their findings on the cancer risk of pot smoking in the European Respiratory Journal. They warned of an impending, 'Epidemic of cancer caused by cannabis'.

Their research showed that each joint had the effective carcinogenic power of 20 cigarettes.

On 23 January 2000 the Observer newspaper in the United Kingdom ran an article by health editor Anthony Browne 'US research says cancer more than twice as likely for cannabis smokers'. It stated that for decades it has been the retort of cannabis smokers that dope is not as bad for you as cigarettes or alcohol. But after years of ambiguous research, US scientists now claim it is worse. Regular smokers of cannabis can be more than 30 times as likely to get cancer of the neck, throat, mouth and larynx as those who have never inhaled. Nor does giving up the weed cut the risk. According to the research, quitting does not reduce the damage. This study, carried out in New York, was the first to definitely link the smoking of joints to full cancers of the head and neck.

There are mixed views about the effects of using bongs compared with consuming marijuana without bongs. It is claimed on the one hand that the water in bongs removes some impurities, making the drug less harmful per puff, but that water in bongs also simultaneously removes some of the THC, causing users to take more puffs to achieve the same high.

It is also often passionately claimed that in some circumstances cannabis can have health benefits. There is some evidence that cannabis can also be used in some forms to treat some diseases. This is possibly true. No doubt the introduction of new, effective drugs would be a very welcome development, regardless of their botanical source. It is also true, however, that passage of this bill would not prevent the medicinal use of cannabis in the event that it is found to have therapeutic value in particular cases.

My main problem, however, is the effect that the open display and sale of bongs in Victoria has on the attitudes of vulnerable people. A young person in this situation will observe that the very implements that are specifically designed and manufactured to consume marijuana are openly sold in shops. Surely teenagers who are tempted to use marijuana by the desire to rebel at their age and by claims that it is fun and pleasurable -- which no doubt it is -- take encouragement to use cannabis from seeing bongs openly displayed in Victorian shops. Who could blame that teenager for concluding, when they see shops full of bongs, that Victoria's laws against marijuana consumption are a joke?

Indeed, from this building one can walk not very far at all down Bourke Street, to the second shop after Russell Street, to see this. Two weeks ago I did this and counted more than 200 bongs in the front window, including probably more than 50 different types of bongs, some of which were in the shape of a human skull, for example.

If that young person is encouraged by the open sale of bongs to use marijuana and goes on to develop some or all of the effects of cannabis use, like addictions to other drugs, mental illnesses and physical problems such as tumours in the head, might he be somewhat justified in feeling that his politicians had let him down? Might he not reasonably feel that by allowing the open display of bongs and sale of bongs, members of Parliament had actually suggested to him that there was nothing harmful or wrong about cannabis?

It was widely argued in the past that marijuana leads to the consumption of other drugs of addiction. The three ladies who visited me yesterday told me that all of their sons who are now addicted to drugs began their lifetimes of addiction to a range of drugs, including heroin and ice, by using marijuana. One of my cousins, whom I loved dearly and who was younger than me, died prematurely after a lifetime of using prescription drugs. His father told me recently that my cousin began his drug problems by using cannabis when he was a teenager. He feels sure that his son would be alive today if he had not begun smoking marijuana when he was a teenager.

I understand the passage of this bill will not suddenly put an end to all our drug problems and it will probably not even have a very large impact on the rate of cannabis use in Victoria. Experience in other states suggests that it is difficult to entirely eliminate commercial bongs. It is also not very difficult to manufacture a homemade bong if commercially made bongs become unavailable. Passage of this bill would nevertheless bring some significant benefits.

Allowing the open display and sale of bongs creates commercial establishments that have a strong financial interest in getting young people to use marijuana. This can obviously lead to a marijuana habit, if not addiction, and a progression to addiction to other drugs.

After announcing my intention to propose this bill, one of my brothers told me a story involving his son that I had never heard before.

When he was about 14 years old, my nephew told his parents that after he had got off the train on his way home from school, while wearing his school uniform, the female owner of a shop in a shopping centre approached him and his friends in the vicinity of the train station. She told them that cannabis was a lot of fun but to really enjoy it, they should buy a bong from her nearby shop. This is what she said to a group of 14-year-olds. My sister-in-law and brother were both furious when they were told what had happened. They are people with resources and of intelligence and determination in unusual abundance. They pursued this matter, which resulted in some, though limited, action against the would-be bong seller. Unfortunately a majority of Victorians whose children are abused in this way -- and I think it is abuse of an under-age person -- do not have the wherewithal to take effective action, even in the fairly unlikely event that they ever find out about it.

The three ladies who visited me yesterday told me something that I have heard from many other people -- their sense of helplessness when they realised that their sons were addicted to drugs. They said they find it outrageous that bongs are sold openly. They are frustrated and angry when they hear people suggesting that marijuana is harmless. One of the ladies said it would be less harmful if heroin were legalised than marijuana. These ladies try to help other parents who are beginning to experience what they have been going through for nearly 20 years. They are angry that although they have been dealing with the effects of illicit drugs for nearly 20 years, they say that there have been no significant improvements in the way we deal with drugs during that whole period.

Clearly there are other actions apart from banning the display and sale of bongs that could be taken to effectively deal with drugs, that we are not doing now.

One of the ladies yesterday suggested that a system of linking databases of pharmacists and doctors is necessary to prevent addicts shopping around for prescription drugs that are provided at no cost or almost no cost to users who have health-care cards -- that is, almost everyone who is unemployed, among others.

In my opinion the system instituted in Sweden that compulsorily detoxifies and rehabilitates those with drug habits is the only effective strategy. In the case of teenagers who are found to be consuming marijuana, attendance at a non-custodial, anti-marijuana course like that provided for drink drivers in America could provide an option for desperate parents who presently feel helpless to help their children.

It would be expensive to introduce such measures but one look at our criminal justice system will immediately reveal the costs of not taking such action.

Compulsory detoxification and rehabilitation are the basis of the correct approach, partly because they involve intervention at the earliest stage possible -- the point in time at which intervention is most likely to be effective. Unlike the banning of the display and sale of bongs, such a systematic change to our approach to illegal drugs would require not merely a single bill. It would require changes to dozens of pieces of legislation and to the policies of varied departments -- clearly a task for a government rather than a private member.

Marijuana consumption is extremely harmful to both the mind and to the body. It not infrequently leads its often young consumers to other drugs. It entices those who may not know much better and ends up killing some and robbing others of their mental health. If we fail in our duty to protect the public, especially the young, do we not share in responsibility for the harm it eventually does, particularly to those who were not yet adults when they began to consume this drug?

It seems to me that a person now in his 30s or 40s, for example, who has been addicted to various dugs since his adolescence might reasonably be able to claim that when he was a teenager he knew there were laws against marijuana, but at the same time he also saw bongs openly and legally for sale. He might feel and indeed contend that in making the laws against this dangerous drug seem like a joke by allowing bongs to be openly displayed and sold, politicians failed him when he was a teenager, just when he needed the benefits of the guidance and advice of those who were older and those who knew better -- when he needed our help and advice and guidance.

Might he not be justified in saying that when he was young and inexperienced and perhaps somewhat foolish, those who were elected to use their experience and their wisdom for the benefit of the community, including his benefit, failed to do so? Could he not reasonably say that leaders of his society declined to effectively warn those in need by banning the public display and sale of instruments that clearly have no other purpose than to facilitate the consumption of marijuana?

I commend the bill to the house.

Debate adjourned on motion of Mr SCHEFFER (Eastern Victoria).

Debate adjourned until Wednesday, 12 May.


Peter Kavanagh MLC
Member for Western Victoria
Parliament of Victoria

"La Cabine"
2nd Floor
1 Yarra Street
Geelong VIC 3220

Ph: 03 5222 1503
Fax: 03 5222 8677


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