Ten years ago, on 19 August 1997, Federal Cabinet at the behest of Prime Minister John Howard aborted a proposed scientific trial to evaluate the effectiveness of prescription heroin as a treatment for heroin dependence. Six years of careful scientific research work was trashed.

Cabinet claimed the heroin trial was abandoned because it would have ''sent the wrong message''. After the meeting, two Cabinet members (Peter Reith, Judith Moylan) breached the Westminster tradition by telling waiting reporters that Cabinet had erred.