Will Hodgman out of step with Prime Minister on medicinal cannabis

Premier Will Hodgman is even out of step with Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the use of medical cannabis.


“Mr Abbott has gone as far as to say if a drug is proven to be safe overseas and is needed here it should be available without the need to be tested again in Australia,” Shadow Attorney General Lara Giddings said.


“Will Hodgman is swimming against the tide of public and political opinion in relation to medicinal cannabis.


“If he needs any further convincing he need only talk to Tony Abbott.


“In Mr Abbott’s own words on the use of medicinal cannabis: ‘If a drug is needed for a valid medicinal purpose and is being administered safely there should be no question about it legality’.


“Mr Hodgman shouldn’t wait until 2015 when the Legislative Council Reports on their inquiry into the issue, to take further action on this issue.


“The Premier could ask his Health Minister to start clinical trials now in Tasmania or better still advocate for the TGA to accept clinical trial evidence from overseas and legalise medical cannabis sooner rather than later.


“In a paper in the Medical Journal of Australia (December 2013), Dr Alex Wodak cited 82 favourable control trials and nine unfavourable control trials overseas which would help inform the TGA’s decision to legalise MC.


“The longer the Tasmanian Liberals stall on the use of medicinal cannabis the more out of touch they are looking,” Ms Giddings said.


Text of Letter from Tony Abbott to Alan Jones:


“Thanks Alan.  Let me look into this.  I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates.  I was under the impression that personal use of cannabis was no longer an offence in New South Wales, not that I would ever support the recreational use of these sorts of drugs.  If a drug is needed for a valid medicinal purpose, though, and is being administered safely, there should be no question of its legality.  And if a drug that’s proven to be safe abroad is needed here, it should be available.  I agree that the regulation of medicines is a thicket of complexity, bureaucracy and corporate and institutional self-interest.  My basic contention is that something that’s been found to be safe in a reliable jurisdiction shouldn’t need to be tested here again.  And clinical trials that have been done elsewhere shouldn’t have to be repeated here.  I doubt the Haslams need a meeting, they need their problem addressed, so please let me see what’s possible.  Cheers, Tony”


Gutwein short on details over planning appointment

The Treasurer has confirmed the chair of the Planning Reform Process was appointed with no interviews, no process and no recommendations.


Labor Shadow Planning Minister, Lara Giddings, said the appointment of the $200,000 a year position was murky at best.


“Mr Gutwein was asked how many people were interviewed for the position, he failed to answer,” Ms Giddings said.


“Mr Gutwein was asked whether his Department made any recommendations on candidates, he failed to answer.


“Mr Gutwein was asked why the highly paid position wasn’t advertised, he failed to answer.


“In fact he made the appointment with no proper process at all.


“How can Tasmanians have any faith in planning reforms when the government has allowed the position of chair to become politically compromised through a lack of transparency and due process?”

Your home is no longer your castle

The consequences of the Liberals’ callous changes to planning appeals have been revealed during Budget Estimates.


Shadow Planning Minister Lara Giddings says the Government’s approach favours big business and disadvantages local residents.


“The Liberals are about to create a very uneven playing field,” Ms Giddings said.


“Mums and dads who wish to lodge a planning appeal against a project over their back fence will be automatically hit with costs if they’re unsuccessful.


“The Liberals need to understand that appellants trying to protect their amenity and valuation of their homes are not criminals.


“In reality, people will be too scared to stand up for their rights.


“Corporations will be able to dangle the prospect of huge court costs in front of potential appellants due to their ability to take on the risk of paying for expensive expert advice.


“The law already provides deterrents for vexatious appeals.


“Just like the anti-protest legislation, the Liberals are going way too far.


“Peter Gutwein must immediately rethink these unfair changes before everyday Tasmanians lose their right to appeal.

Circuit courts under threat

Circuit courts in regional areas including King Island and Flinders Island could face the axe under the Liberal Government’s budget cuts.


Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin repeatedly failed to rule out reducing sessions or even axing regional court sittings as a result of cuts to the Justice budget.


“Ms Goodwin was given repeated opportunities to commit to these critical circuit court sittings but she refused to rule anything in or out,” Shadow Attorney-General Lara Giddings said.


“There are also fears that courts in Devonport or Burnie may have to close as a result of the hidden cuts in the Liberal Government’s first budget.


“Circuit court sittings in Queenstown, Smithton, Currie, Whitemark, Scottsdale, St Helens and Huonville play an important part in our justice system, particularly for people who are unable to travel.


“The Attorney General must immediately commit to quarantining these frontline services from cuts.”

Policy flip on medicinal cannabis welcomed

Shadow Attorney-General Lara Giddings has welcomed Health Minister Michael Ferguson’s backflip on the issue of medicinal cannabis.


“It’s taken too long for the Minister to come to this position but Labor warmly welcomes the major policy shift,” Ms Giddings said.


“Now we wait to see evidence that the Government is prepared to match its words with leadership and tangible actions.


“Companies can conduct clinical trials in Tasmania with state ministerial approval. However, legalising medical cannabis requires national Therapeutic Goods Administration approval.


“For real change to occur the Premier must push for national reform by putting this issue on the COAG agenda.


“This issue is far too important for the Liberal Government to adopt a passive approach.


“Tasmanians who have been demanding common sense on medicinal cannabis should be proud of the pressure they’ve applied to government.


“People like Nicole Cowles and Natalie Daley shouldn’t underestimate the influence they’ve had when it comes to this issue.


“By sharing their stories, momentum for change has continued to grow.”

Pressure grows on governments over medicinal cannabis

The administrator of Norfolk Island, the Hon. Gary Hardgrave, has overturned the island’s Government’s decision to allow the growing and export of medicinal cannabis crops.


Shadow Attorney-General Lara Giddings said today that this decision puts further pressure on the State and Federal Governments to resolve the issues that are holding back a trial of medicinal cannabis in Tasmania.


“It is ridiculous that Liberal Governments and now their appointees are finding reasons to stop the development of a medicinal cannabis industry rather than help a properly regulated and administered industry grow, in-line with poppies,” Ms Giddings said.


“Mr Abbott has the power to step in to reverse the decision of the administrator and he should act immediately.


“By doing this the Federal Government would also clear the way for Tasmania to set up our own industry should the State Liberals change their tune.


“The case for a medicinal cannabis industry in Tasmania is sound – it would create jobs, stimulate growth and of course give doctors another option when attempting to ease the suffering of patients.


“The Labor-led case for a medicinal cannabis trial in Tasmania continues to gather support across the state.


“A Tasmanian trial would build on the learnings from other medicinal cannabis trials in countries like Germany and Canada which now allow for its use.


“All we need is for the State and Federal Governments to get rid of the blue tape that is tying up investment and jobs in this industry both here and on Norfolk Island.”


The e-petition calling on the State Government to allow a trial of medicinal cannabis in Tasmania has reached almost 1700 signatures and can be accessed on the Parliament of Tasmania website at www.parliament.tas.gov.au/EPetitions/House/ and go to Current Petitions. The petition closes on Monday.

Ferguson out of touch on medicinal cannabis

Michael Ferguson has proven that the State Government has learned nothing from the public backlash against its bizarre opposition to medicinal cannabis.


Mr Ferguson has claimed that the unilateral action taken by the administrator of Norfolk Island to overturn the elected Parliament’s approval of a medical trial vindicates his own short sighted actions.


“There was hope that the Government was preparing to soften its stance against medicinal cannabis but that has proven to be ill-founded,” Ms Giddings said.


“Michael Ferguson has shown that he hasn’t listened to the community on this issue.


“Meanwhile he is yet to produce a shred of evidence to back his claims that a trial would be unsafe or harm the poppy industry.


“The latter claim has been comprehensively and embarrassingly rejected by the poppy industry itself.”

Hodgman not listening to constituents on medicinal cannabis

The Hodgman Liberal Government continues to show how heartless it is when it comes to medicinal cannabis.


Today in question time Premier Will Hodgman was asked why he had not responded to invitations to meet with Nicole Cowles, who gives her daughter Alice medicinal cannabis to stop Alice’s epileptic fits.


Ms Cowles wrote to her local Franklin member, Mr Hodgman, more than a month ago and again in the past week.


Shadow Attorney-General Lara Giddings asked Mr Hodgman in Question Time to commit to meeting Ms Cowles.


“Will Hodgman not only wouldn’t commit to a meeting, he refused to even say Nicole’s name,” Ms Giddings said.


“It was a cold, ignorant and heartless response to a simple question – will you meet with Nicole?


“Instead Will Hodgman played the politics of the issue, attacking Labor when he should be listening to his constituents.


“In NSW, Liberal Premier Mike Baird met with Daniel Haslam, who has terminal cancer, to hear his story.


“After that meeting Mr Baird declared he would support legalisation to legalise medicinal cannabis.


“Will Hodgman should respond to Nicole, meet with her and hear her story and talk about how he, as Premier and her local member, can help her.”


Today Labor tabled 5000 signatures from Tasmanians supporting a trial of medicinal cannabis with thousands more to be tabled in coming sittings.

More momentum for medicinal cannabis trial

Shadow Attorney-General Lara Giddings says the community push for a trial into medicinal cannabis is getting stronger by the day.

“Despite a closed-minded approach from the State Government, Labor’s prepared to keep fighting on this issue,” Ms Giddings said.

“Petitions have been launched after an overwhelming push for change from the public.

“Brave Tasmanians like Natalie Daley, Jessica Rush and Nicole Cowles have put the issue firmly on the political agenda.

“By sharing their personal stories, the community is quickly becoming aware of the benefits associated with medicinal cannabis.

“Health Minister Michael Ferguson is standing in the way of public opinion on this issue.

“Hopefully the Legislative Council inquiry will further inform the debate and influence the Liberal Government’s rigid opinion.

“In the meantime, I’ll stand with those Tasmanians advocating for a change in policy.

“Medicinal cannabis presents significant health and economic benefits for Tasmania.

“We need a compassionate, common sense approach to the issue.”

Goodwin wasting valuable legal resources

Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin needs to explain why she is wasting the time and resources of the Sentencing Advisory Council by requesting advice on an issue which she has already made up her mind.

Shadow Attorney-General Lara Giddings said it was sheer arrogance from the Liberal Party to request advice it is likely to ignore on suspended sentences.

“Vanessa Goodwin is determined to scrap the option of suspended sentences, despite expert opinion from across the legal profession to the contrary,” Ms Giddings said.

“I have no confidence the Sentencing Advisory Council won’t simply be ignored should it provide advice that supports suspended sentencing in Tasmania.

“The Liberals should just be honest with Tasmanians and scrap this ridiculous idea that will only succeed in overcrowding the prisons, without making the community safer.”