Page 1045 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 20 March 1991

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Wednesday, 20 March 1991


MR SPEAKER (Mr Prowse) took the chair at 10.30 am and read the prayer.


MR BERRY (10.30): I present the Intoxicated Persons (Care and Detention) Bill 1991. I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the lack of proclaimed places in the Australian Capital Territory was raised with me by concerned workers in the Territory. I went to the New South Wales Act to compare what was available in New South Wales and in the ACT. The New South Wales Act was implemented by the Hon. Frank Walker, the then Labor Attorney-General, in 1976. It attempts to address the fact that intoxicated persons are quite often taken into custody for no other reason than their intoxication and therefore should not come under arrest but detention for their own safety.

The aim of the Bill is to provide a place for intoxicated persons which recognises the health implications of their circumstances and thus release police to perform other duties. During the Follett Government I had the opportunity to go out with a police patrol and it seemed to me, although there has been other evidence presented to me, that the police spent an undue amount of time dealing with people who were intoxicated. It also struck me that it was inappropriate for intoxicated people to be held in police cells as a consequence of their intoxication. What really is a social illness, as has been recognised in recent times, is being regarded as some sort of crime.

There are safeguards in the Bill for the police officers and those designated as authorised officers under the Bill. There are no implications, I am advised, arising from this Bill in relation to section 65 of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act and this, Mr Speaker, will give the Government every opportunity to support it in a positive way. It is a positive piece of legislation. It is intended to provide better services for the people of the ACT and to improve the lot of people who might be affected on a long-term basis, or potentially so, from the effects of alcohol.

The commencement of the Bill encompasses the standard provisions of ACT Bills. The interpretation clause deals with definitions of authorised persons, detainees, intoxicated, premises, public places and prescribed places.

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