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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 (Hansard) 16 May) . . Page.. 1327 ..

Motion for Disallowance

MS FOLLETT (10.36): Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Weapons Regulations (Amendment) which is regulation No. 5 of 1996, made under the Weapons Act 1991, relating to Paintball, be disallowed.

Mr Speaker, I am moving this motion, as I indicated some time ago that I would, and I am moving it at the first available opportunity, as Mr Humphries requested; but, overwhelmingly, I am moving it in order to challenge the culture of violence that seems to be gaining ground in our community. It is my view that the game of paintball is militaristic in its nature. It is an imitation of war, complete with warlike weapons and very often with warlike costumes. The objective of the game is to shoot at other players, in imitation of the killing and maiming which takes place in battle.

The only elements of battle that are missing in paintball and that are present in other wars are, first of all, the so-called justification for the war, whether it is ideological, territorial, religious, ethnic cleansing or whatever. Paintball does not have that kind of so-called justification behind it. Also missing, of course, is the killing capacity of the ammunition used in paintball, although I am advised that injuries can be inflicted by paintball pellets. I would like to remind members that there have been other very real wars and battles waged using ammunition that is supposed not to have a capacity to kill - for instance, rubber bullets, tear gas and so on. The use of those kinds of weapons has been very much a feature in the oppression of people right around the world.

I want to put to the Assembly a couple of arguments as to why we should not allow paintball in the Territory. The first and most simple argument, Mr Speaker, is that I believe that we must reduce all forms of violence whenever and wherever we can. It is not enough simply to mouth pious sentiments about violence. We must act as and when we can to ensure that violence does not become the popular culture of our Territory. The action that we take towards this objective will not always be universally popular.

I have heard Mr Humphries and others, Mr Speaker, expressing the view that the amount of violence in popular culture - for instance, in video and computer-based entertainment - should be reduced. I agree with this view. I assume that what underlies the view in other people's minds, as in mine, is the thought that repeated exposure to violence in entertainment, especially by impressionable young people, may inure them to the horror of the real thing, or, even worse, may predispose them to acts of violence. I do not know whether this theory has any support in research, but there is no doubt that the existence of violent videos and violent computer games adds to that culture of violence in our community and, in my view, is particularly questionable in relation to the emotional and social development of boys and young men.

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