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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 3 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 679 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

is a significant social problem. The responsibilities of licensees do not end when people walk out the door. They have a duty to have regard for the responsible service of alcohol, and some duty of care, at least in a moral sense, if not a legal sense as well, for their patrons and those likely to be affected by the actions of their patrons.

In support of the industry, the Government introduced the joint liquor action plan in late 1995. That plan has seen the development of a strategic alliance between the Australian Federal Police and the Government's liquor licensing section in the enforcement of liquor laws. As a direct result of the plan, there has been an increase in police patrols in Civic and other late-night entertainment areas and a greater emphasis placed on the enforcement of liquor laws, particularly drinking in public places, under-age drinking and overcrowding of licensed premises, as well as greater attention to problems deriving from alcohol abuse, such as assaults, drink-driving and vandalism. These measures are a clear indication of the Government's commitment to fulfilling its obligations to the community of Canberra to act to deal with liquor-related problems in Civic.

The Government has not accepted the previous attempts by the Australian Hotels Association to portray the solution as resting solely with the provision of even more police resources - this despite a significant boost in the numbers of police assigned to Civic, in particular, and other regions across Canberra. More recently, I understand, the AHA has presented to the Attorney-General a nine-point action plan encompassing such issues as the responsible service of alcohol and the proper training of staff, both bar and security staff, in issues of liquor law compliance. The Government welcomes the industry's initiative in putting forward those proposals. It is also pleasing to see that the AHA has recognised the potential need for setting a taps-off time for licensed premises. This is a significant reversal of their oft stated position that there is no need for trading hours restrictions, and it almost guarantees some Government action in the foreseeable future to restrict trading hours.

As someone who has seen first-hand the anti-social behaviour that is occurring in Canberra's late-night entertainment areas, I can only repeat that it is not acceptable in our city and that this Government is committed to preventing it, or responding to it appropriately and forcefully when it does happen. I think the police view is one that has to be respected here. They are the ones who have to pick up the pieces. They are the experts in this area. They are the ones who have been calling for some time for action such as this to assist them in their battle against anti-social behaviour. Might I say that I think that is something other people in this house, especially the Greens, should have regard to. I would expect that any action that was taken as a result of this would lead to a drop in violence and some of the incidents that concern them, rather than an increase.

Our city might be amongst the safest in the world; but, if there are measures that we as a government and as a community can undertake to make it that little bit safer, then it is incumbent upon us to do so. Indeed, only at the end of last year my colleague the Attorney-General referred to a drink-drive operation conducted by the police in and around Canberra City. One in 30 drivers recorded a positive drink-driving test, and after 3.00 am that figure narrowed sharply to one in three tested being over the limit.

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