Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 2 Hansard (16 February) . .
MR HANSON: Minister, why do we have the highest rates of golden staph in Australia, the longest waiting times in ED and systemic bullying throughout our hospitals?
MR CORBELL: I refer Mr Hanson to all of my answers in relation to these questions.
MR COE: My question is to the Attorney-General. On 1 February 2016 the Canberra Times reported that "Attorney-General Simon Corbell stands firm on one-punch laws". The article stated:
Mr Corbell addressed the territory's judges, magistrates and legal community on Monday, using the platform to argue once again against "hasty" legislative retaliation to unprovoked assaults.
In the article you said that current laws were "adequate". Attorney, what are you doing to ensure that one-punch incidents are reduced in the territory?
MR CORBELL: Of course, I am not allowed to announce executive policy in question time; I can simply reiterate to members opposite what the government's position is in relation to tackling this level of violence in our community, that is, to focus on the source of this form of violence, which is the abuse of alcohol, the excessive consumption of alcohol, and how it leads to violence in our community.
What is very clear is that the legislative impulse—that kneejerk reaction—to simply increase penalties as though that will stop violence is, we know, fundamentally flawed and misplaced, and the government does not accept that position. I have to tell you, Madam Speaker, and I have to tell those opposite through you, Madam Speaker, that I can state very clearly that someone who is drunk and decides to deliver a coward's punch to somebody is not really thinking about what the penalty is on the statute book when they act in that manner. It is no deterrent to them whatsoever. They are not thinking, "Gee, I'm going to get 15 years for this instead of 13." They are not thinking that, because they are drunk and violent.
The issue for us is not to rush to that simplistic impulse of just increasing the penalty; the issue for us is to tackle the excessive consumption of alcohol and the consequences that brings about. This government has implemented significant reforms—risk-based licensing reforms, extra police on our streets—designed to tackle the overall level of alcohol-related harm in our community. We have seen a significant reduction in the overall level of alcohol-related harm in our community. That is confirmed in the statistics we see from our police, our Ambulance Service and our courts. However, we have also seen an increase in some locations in our city, notably in our night-time entertainment precincts. So the government is now finalising reform options for a further round of changes to our liquor licensing laws to further strengthen our capacity to deal with the irresponsible consumption of alcohol and how that leads to violence, because that, and only that, will be the way that we deal with this form of violence at its source.
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