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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 3 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 680 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Mr Humphries, who was with the police during that operation, tells me that most of those drivers caught after 3.00 am in the city for being over the limit were emerging from licensed premises.

Mr Osborne's Bill has, to a limited extent, pre-empted the Government's consideration of the restriction of trading hours, in that his Bill establishes the framework under which regulations can be made by the Government to restrict trading hours. The actual restriction of trading hours would be a matter for Government action through the making of such regulations. The Attorney-General will finalise in the next few weeks his consultations on the issue and review the outcome of the initiatives put in place over the summer period. A decision will then be taken on the nature of any liquor trading hours restrictions. That decision will be taken after involving the industry in consideration.

It now appears clear that there will be a closing time and that all sides of the debate - except, I understand, the Australian Labor Party and the Greens, but including Mr Moore, the Government, Mr Osborne, the police and now the industry itself - accept the need for some restriction of trading hours in Canberra. The Government supports Mr Osborne's Bill enthusiastically and commends him for having brought it to the Assembly.

MS FOLLETT (10.56): My Labor colleagues and I will be opposing this Bill of Mr Osborne's, and we will do so for a number of reasons. I would like to point out at the start, however, that the Bill represents a quite unusual and, in my view, totally unwarranted step, and that is the handing over by this Assembly of our regulatory powers to the Attorney-General. It leaves the Assembly with only the power of veto by way of the disallowable instrument procedure. It seems to me that it would be far preferable for the issues in this debate to be put fully before the Assembly and for the result of that debate to form the basis of policy on this matter. If it is the will of the majority of the Assembly to take the kind of action we have heard Mr Osborne outline, then so be it. I would not argue with the Assembly's role in that procedure, but I think the Assembly needs to think very carefully about simply handing over to a Minister a power we have in the way that this Bill outlines. It is a serious step, and I hope that it does not form a precedent for further legislation that is aimed at diminishing the powers of the legislature. I think that is a serious issue that members ought to consider.

Amongst our other reasons for opposing Mr Osborne's legislation is, first of all, the belief that the step Mr Osborne is taking may simply act to concentrate unacceptable behaviour at a particular time of the day. Mr Osborne may not be old enough, but I certainly am, and I well remember the phenomenon known as the 6 o'clock swill. It was my lot, as a young person, to walk quite a long way through the streets of Sydney to get my transport home at around 6 o'clock in the evening. The display shortly before the 6 o'clock closing time of unseemly, illegal and totally unacceptable behaviour was something that has never left me. I have remembered it all my life. That behaviour was brought about purely and simply because the pubs were closing at 6 o'clock and because the drinkers were determined to pack in as much alcohol as they possibly could before that closing time. It was often the case that 6 o'clock closing led to violence and to people taking grave risks with their own health, in my opinion, by binge drinking in the immediate lead-up to the 6 o'clock closing time.

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