Archive for the ‘Law Reform’ Category

How to Vote for Darren CHURCHILL in Fraser

06/09/2013

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Media Release: 3rd April, 2012: New national and rational debate on drug laws? Count the Democrats in!

02/04/2012

New national and rational debate on drug laws?

Count the Democrats in!

The Australian Democrats are excited to be endorsing the release of a high-level report from Australia 21 which calls for the reopening of a national debate about the regulation and control of drug use.

National President, Darren Churchill, says it will take a mature response from mainstream media outlets to allow the science to be heard.

“This debate must not be a platform for scare-mongering, nor should it be fuelled by five second media grabs.

“We owe it to the 400 young Australians who die every year from drug-related causes to debate this issue on scientific merits, not on fear and misinformation,” said Mr Churchill.

The call for this debate, coming from former politicians, such as Michael Wooldridge and newly-appointed Senator Bob Carr, and the former head of the Australian Federal Police, Mick Palmer, follows on from last year’s Global Commission on Drug Policy which pulled no punches in declaring that the “War on Drugs” has failed.

“There is a huge irony in so many Australian states introducing legislation to curtail bikies, while at the same time deliberately pushing the control of illicit drugs into their hands. If these drugs are as dangerous as some would have us believe then the control of their manufacture and distribution should be in the hands of governments.

“With such huge profits to be made from illicit drugs, their control by organised crime opens the door to police corruption.

“Like Australia 21, the Australian Democrats understand the fears that parents have about risks illicit drugs might pose to their children. But if we can have an open and honest debate, those fears will be put to rest.

“They need to know that the vast majority of drug harm in Australia comes from the legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and some doctor-prescribed drugs.

“Most of our sitting politicians are frightened of taking on this issue for fear of a media campaign against them, so it is the retired law-makers and law-enforcers, the doctors and the scientists who will have to lead this campaign.

“It will take time, but eventually reason will win, and today’s announcement is a great start” said Mr Churchill.

DARREN CHURCHILL

National President

darren.churchill@democrats.org.au

Tel: 0412 196 473

3rd April, 2012

Media Release: 30th June 2010: Random Drug testing law is costly and flawed, say Democrats

30/06/2010

DARREN CHURCHILL

ACT Democrats President

Media Release: 30th June 2010:

Random Drug testing law is costly and flawed, say Democrats

“The Legislative Assembly has failed Canberrans by passing a costly and flawed Random Drug Testing law.” says ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill

The Oppositions’ Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) (Random Drug Testing) Amendment Bill 2009 was rushed through the Legislative Assembly today with support from the Liberals and the Greens, despite the ACT Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Helen Watchirs warning that the law would fail a legal challenge in the Supreme Court.

“Dr Watchirs has repeated her concerns of two years ago that the legislation will breach the Human Rights Act. But the Assembly has gone ahead and passed this intrusive law anyway. “

“Not even so much as a statement of intent about “road safety” and simply ignoring the concerns of the Human Rights Commissioner. This clearly shows that the Liberals and the Greens are more concerned about increasing police powers than they are about human rights. And the Labor government is weak for not being able to negotiate a better outcome.” declared Mr Churchill

“Mr Stanhope was right to raise Dr Watchirs concerns. But it’s not enough. It is essential that all ACT legislation conform to our Human Rights Act 2004, which both the Labor government and the Australian Democrats have championed as being a good model for similar national legislation.”

“On top of this there is the added problem of stretching already insufficient police resources in order to implement the scheme. There will be no increases in police resources and training despite the time taken to test people and the cost involved, diverting police resources from solving real crime.”

“The law will make a mockery of the rules of evidence by disregarding the level of a drug required for impairment. This is just a facade of trying to appear tough on drugs with no real intention of improving road safety or public safety. Surely, it would be better to utilise police resources in improving the overall enforcement of traffic laws and other laws?” Mr Churchill continued.

“This law should be repealed and should not be re-introduced until there is a proven scientific method of measuring the relationship between different quantities and types of drugs and the level of impairment to driving associated with them for a legislated drug induced impairment equivalent to 0.05 Blood Alcohol Concentration scientifically established.”

“The law must also be written to conform with our excellent Human Rights Act 2004.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill

ACT Democrats President

darren.churchill@act.democrats.org.au

Tel: 0412 196 473

Media Release: 30th June 2010: Proposed drug testing law raises human rights and effectiveness concerns, say Democrats

29/06/2010

DARREN CHURCHILL

ACT Democrats President

Media Release: 30th June 2010:

Proposed drug testing law raises human rights and effectiveness concerns, say Democrats

“The proposed Random Roadside Drug Testing legislation must be based on driver impairment levels and take account of the requirements of the Human Rights Act,” says ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill

The Oppositions’ Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) (Random Drug Testing) Amendment Bill 2009 is expected to be debated by the ACT Assembly this week. The government has already referred the Bill to the Police Chief and the Human Rights Commissioner for comment.

“We await with anticipation the report of the Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Watchirs,’ Mr Churchill said. “In a speech in 2008, Dr Watchirs outlined the need for human rights to be at the centre of the discussion and raised concerns about Random Drug Testing being compatible with the Human Rights Act 2004, particularly in relation to ‘arbitrary detention/arrest of the individual, subjecting people to have medical treatment without free consent, an arbitrary interference with their privacy, arguably creating problems of an unfair trial; negatively impacting on children’s rights.’

“No wonder Mr Stanhope has referred the proposed legislation to Dr Watchirs again! Our Human Rights Act is landmark legislation and has been widely championed by both the government and the Australian Democrats as being a good model for similar national legislation.”

“If it does meet the human rights test, other things the ACT Democrats would expect to see in the legislation are:

· An “intent” clause to ensure that the Bill is for “road safety” and not for any other purpose. This would allow protection of persons randomly tested to ensure the results of any specimens collected under the legislation will not be able to be used to establish any offence that is not related to road safety;

· Is there balanced and reasonable science from other Australian jurisdictions that Random Drug Testing is effective in contributing to improved road safety? Perhaps we need a “sunset clause” after which time the effectiveness of the legislation in it’s intent can be evaluated and reviewed, and if not effective that it be discontinued;

· an impairment provision to determine what level of a drug in the body is proven to impair driving to the equivalent of a 0.05% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Something such as the Standardised Field Sobriety Test (SFST) currently used in some form in US, NZ and Europe. This could be replaced by other more scientific tests as the research becomes available and enable testing for impairment by licit as well as illicit drugs;

· the removal or modification of Clause 12A (2) which could allow a pedestrian, a passenger or anyone at all to be tested and prosecuted. It should be deleted from the bill or clarified as to whom it refers;

· The increases in police resources and training that would be needed to implement such a costly and questionable scheme would perhaps be better utilised by improving the overall enforcement of traffic laws.”

“I made a submission (on behalf of the ACT Democrats), to Territory and Municipal Services just over two years ago where I raised many of the above points. It seems that more than two years down the track, we are still unable to determine an effective scientific or human rights basis for this legislation.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill

ACT Democrats President

darren.churchill@act.democrats.org.au

Tel: 0412 196 473