Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 372 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

I am putting this Bill forward for two reasons. The first concerns the alcohol-related problems we have had for a number of years in Civic and Manuka, and also Tuggeranong and Belconnen, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. I have often heard Canberra referred to as the safest city in the world, and I do not doubt that that is true. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I enjoy living here and why I chose to stay here after my previous career finished. However, I do feel that it can be made safer. I have had several members of the Australian Hotels Association attempt several times to convince me that they have wrongly been made the scapegoats for any trouble that goes on outside their clubs and bars. I guess that their vested interest has numbed their sense of reality a little. For the key members of the AHA to deny having even the slightest part to play in the unacceptable behaviour that happens in our traditional late night areas throughout the night does not do much for their credibility in claiming to be a responsible organisation with the welfare of our people at heart.

I am pleased, though, that the majority of licensees do run their businesses responsibly. However, there is still a group who are uncooperative with the police and are continually looking for ways in which they can flout the law. Unfortunately, the nature of our current laws makes it difficult to catch and successfully prosecute these licensees. I am pleased to hear that Mr Humphries is intending to take care of that in the immediate future. Over this summer, the police have been using special patrols to clean up much of the less desirable behaviour that goes on in and around Civic and Manuka. By concentrating on both of these areas at the same time, they have been able slowly to tackle the core of the situation rather than simply driving any troublemakers from one part of town to another. While the police have been able to achieve a great deal over the summer with special squads, they also know that as soon as they slacken the pressure things will go back to the way they were.

It is clear that a package of more permanent measures is needed to reform our trouble spots and the people who visit these areas. Mr Humphries has already indicated to this Assembly that he is intending to implement a range of measures to allow for greater control over what goes on inside the clubs. I am also pleased to hear that the Government is giving serious consideration, especially in Civic, to things such as improving the lighting in car parks and tidying up the bus interchange and service lanes that run behind the clubs. They will take a look at slowly changing the ratio of liquor outlets to other types of businesses in the area.

I am convinced that a limitation on the availability of alcohol also has a part to play in changing people's behaviour, and I consider that to exclude sales between 3.00 am and 7.00 am would prove to be both reasonable and effective. I have to say that some people have misinterpreted such limitation as a curfew, but clearly this is not the case. Clubs would still have the option to stay open, and there would be no requirement for everyone to go home at 3.00 am; although it is expected and hoped that most people would be trying to leave over the next hour. This change will have several advantages. Most importantly, it would allow for more effective policing. The police would be able to roster their squads with a specific timeframe in mind, so that they could have the right number of people available at the right times, rather than having their resources too thinly spread over a longer period, as has usually been the case in the past. Right now, the police are spending all their time between 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock in the morning filling the Civic watch-house with drunks who have come from the nightclubs.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .