Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 April 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1473 ..
a lot of noise and they were apparently annoying passers by. The liquor licensing inspectors did not seem to worry too much about that or check any IDs and continued to allow alcohol to be consumed on the footpath, which apparently is illegal.
However, they went into the RSL club next door and checked licences and things there. Nothing was actually happening in the RSL club. There were no complaints in relation to it. It was just carrying on its business. The inspectors seemed, for some reason, to be completely reluctant to attend to the obvious problem outside this restaurant where a private party was going on.
Another incident was mentioned in relation to Manuka, where a proprietor got into trouble because people were drinking outside a licensed area. It was not on his premises and it was not his problem, but he received a warning letter. The people who were offending, of course, were not questioned.
I have a list of establishments which were prosecuted and convicted for various offences—15 of them—for the period 2003-04. I have no problem with any of that. I think I got a similar response in relation to a number of persons, like underage drinkers, who were prosecuted and convicted, warned or whatever, and it was somewhat less than that.
These licensed establishments do not want people to be doing the wrong thing, they do not want shonky businesses giving them a bad name, so they are all in favour of businesses that are doing the wrong thing being prosecuted, but they very much want to see as well that people who are irresponsible, people who, for example, might be underage and go into a drinking establishment, people who are abusive, people who are drunk, also held responsible for their own actions.
I understand the government is considering legislating for a number of on-the-spot fines in relation to the industry. I would suggest to them that not only should they be for things like occupancy levels or serving intoxicated persons; let us have some, too, for the persons who actually cause the problem; let us not let them get off scot-free in terms of not being responsible for their own totally irresponsible and indeed illegal actions. It does have to cut both ways.
One of the big problems that have been expressed to me by the liquor industry is why the agency seems to think the police can do a better job. It is an obvious problem and it might have a lot to do with why the inspectors might be reluctant to interfere with a bunch of rowdy drunks who are causing trouble and abusing them, why they might be reluctant to go in and question people who are actually causing trouble in an establishment and why it is a lot easier to go and ping the doorman, the manager of the establishment or someone else, because you are not going to have the same risk of getting your head punched in, as occurs if perhaps you do intervene.
It is a problem and I have talked to people who have been involved in liquor licensing in relation to it. They are civilians; they are public servants; they are not police. It is probably, as much as anything, unreasonable to expect them to put their safety in danger in those sorts of situations. The theory is that, in a situation like that, they are meant to go in with the police, but we have had police do the liquor licensing in the territory in the past. They seem to develop a very good rapport with the various proprietors and, of