Disagreeing with Stanhope on the needle exchange program

Disagreeing with Stanhope on the needle exchange program

No one following the Alexander Maconochie Centre needle-exchange program debate can doubt that former chief minister Jon Stanhope is passionate about the issue (''Rights exist behind the wire'', March 13, p15) However, being passionate about something is not the same thing as seeing it clearly.

Because custodial officers have a duty of care for prisoners and are in direct daily contact with them, they have a different view of a needle exchange at AMC than the ''crash or crash through'' position now taken by Stanhope. From their perspective, this is a serious and complex workplace matter. It's about trying to find a workable outcome among myriad competing issues, including resources, building design, rehabilitation, legal implications, health, human rights and safety concerns, to name a few.

Stanhope quotes a survey showing 70 per cent of Canberrans support community-based, needle-exchange programs. What they think about needle-exchange programs in prison, however, has never been tested. Stanhope appears to be using survey data on the community attitude to needle-exchange programs in general to support his position on a specific program in the AMC.

CPSU members at the AMC have clearly and consistently expressed deep concerns about many aspects of the proposed needle-exchange program. Is Stanhope really suggesting that the CPSU should disregard the views of an overwhelming majority of members in a workplace on a serious issue that affects them directly?

When Jon Stanhope was chief minister, he was so concerned about the complex issues involved that he agreed prison staff had the right to veto the needle-exchange program if their issues were not resolved. Under his leadership, these concerns were not resolved. With respect, Stanhope should tone down the inflammatory rhetoric and recognise that the CPSU members working in the prison have a right to make their own unique and valuable contribution to this debate.


Alistair Waters, deputy national president, CPSU

Jon Stanhope's article (''Rights exist behind the wire'', March 13, p15), borders on the contemptible. Stanhope and his ilk should devote their energies towards the victims of crime. Victims of crime carry their status for life, yet Stanhope is all on about the perpetrators of crime who, by their very own actions, have forfeited their place in the community.

Any policies and/or funding in relation to crime must be directed to victims of crime and their rehabilitation. Criminals come a distant second.

Michael Doyle, Fraser

Cyprus's situation

It is encouraging that Elisabeth King (''Ancient history, eternal youth'', March 3, pB2) has discovered the richness of Cyprus's culture and civilisation. However, I wish to point out basic factual omissions which would facilitate your readers in understanding the situation on the island.

The 1974 Turkish invasion and illegal occupation of more than one-third of Cyprus's sovereign territory which led to the forcible expulsion and uprooting of more than 180,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and properties cannot be hidden through erroneous uses of terminology such as ''Greek part, Turkish part'', ''Greek and Turkish sections'', ''Turkish north and Greek counterpart''. Nor can the consequences and the hardships brought upon the people of Cyprus be trivialised as ''historical baggage''.

Although the importance of Cyprus's culture and its contribution to world heritage is recognised by the writer, reference to the systematic plundering and destruction of its cultural and religious heritage undertaken in the occupied areas, which have not been under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus since 1974, should have been included.

King may consider crossing to the occupied northern part of Cyprus ''a relief to escape the tourist hordes of the south''. However, she omitted mentioning the continuing unlawful usurpation and exploitation of Greek Cypriot properties without the legal owners' consent.

It seems the writer, through her short encounter with the island, has failed to grasp the feelings of the refugees; how it is to be displaced in your own country.

Yannis Iacovou,

Cypriot High Commissioner

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