Weekend Today Interview with Deborah Knight

Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's radio interview on Weekend Today topics: Turnbull Government’s new anti-drug campaign, same sex marriage, NRL and AFL finals.

Page last updated: 26 September 2017

PDF printable version of Weekend Today Interview with Deborah Knight (PDF 204 KB)

24 September 2017

E&OE…

Topics: Turnbull Government’s new anti-drug campaign, same sex marriage, NRL and AFL finals

DEBORAH KNIGHT:
Now the government has just launched a new road toll style anti-drug campaign, to try to combat a crisis that continues to get worse. Hard hitting ads like this are being rolled out across the country.

Health Minister Greg Hunt joins us now with more on this. Minister, good morning to you.

GREG HUNT:
Good morning.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:
We’re weeks away now from the start of schoolies celebrations. They are confronting ads about the impact of drug use. Are students your specific target here?

GREG HUNT:
We are focusing on young people. Drugs can be absolutely devastating. We know that 200,000 people a year in Australia take some form of ice, many more take other forms of party drugs such as caps, MDMA or ecstasy.

Schoolies is coming up, in not many weeks now, and our message to young people is one drug may seem harmless but, in fact, in its own right it can devastate you or it can lead you on a path which it can be very hard to recover from.

But having said that, you can take your life back, and the drug helpline is here to actually provide people with a path back.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:
We have seen these very hard hitting style campaigns trying to reduce the road toll. It hasn't been that successful. Why are you confident this will work with drug use?

GREG HUNT:
Well, we have tested it very widely and we are focusing on two fronts. Both young people and parents.

Parents are often turned to by the young people, and parents will often want to talk to young people or find help themselves.

And these are confronting ads. And that's because ice is devastating. It can hurt and damage and destroy the lives of 200,000 people directly a year, but then there are all of the family members, the emergency service workers that I’m visiting this morning, or it can devastate the lives of members of the public who have no connection with somebody who is hyped up on ice and is violent.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:
The ACT Government is going to allow pill testing at a music festival that's coming up. It's a trial that's been successful in some European countries. What's your view? Should it be rolled out across the country to keep kids safe?

GREG HUNT:
No. We don't support this because what it’s saying is you can take drugs into festivals and some drugs are fine and some drugs are not. I think that that's a very dangerous message.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:
In other news there was an ugly incident overnight where two yes vote campaigners crashed a no rally. It certainly turned into a debate with very little respect, which is what the government was hoping.

GREG HUNT:
Well, I think the key here is that the vast majority of Australians are conducting a democratic exercise with great respect.

To everybody who has strong views one way or another, you are entitled to your views but it’s absolutely fundamental to conduct this campaign with respect for others.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:
Are you concerned though at the tenor and the tone of the debate? Because passions are running high on both sides and it has turned ugly.

GREG HUNT:
Well my message would be to be respectful to others. And also this has the potential to be a great moment in Australian democratic and social history.

This can be a very positive, a very uplifting, a very transformative moment. And I think that is the way that many people can approach this and certainly that's the way that I advocate it could and should be approached.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:
Thousands of Australians also received a text message, unsolicited text message, yesterday. I was one of them, from the yes campaign. It sparked a lot of anger from people even from yes voters really quite disturbed that their personal details and phone numbers would be used in this sort of way. What's your view?

GREG HUNT:
As I understand it, it is within the law. I'm not the expert and I haven't received any advice on that yet. But again, the overall approach here is to look at this in a positive way that this can be a real chance to transform not just a legal situation, but social attitudes.

And I think that's my role and my task, to give that sense that this can be a deeply positive approach to social change and in the end I believe a desirable outcome.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:
Let's hope that it achieves that. Just before we let you go, a big night in the NRL and the AFL. Who you are backing in both codes for the grand final?

GREG HUNT:
Well I'm hoping for the Storm in the NRL and I was lucky enough as a lifelong Richmond supporter to be there with my young boy last night. So we walked back from the MCG in one of the great experiences of my life, just a sea of Richmond supporters. So this week – go Tiges.

DEBORAH KNIGHT:
I'm amazed you can even speak. Many fans can't. Their voice are so exhausted from all the cheering. Yes, there are lots of Tiges fans, one of them sitting next to me now.

Minister, thank you so much for your time.

GREG HUNT:
Pleasure.

(ENDS)

Top of Page