Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2576 ..
Debate resumed from 27 June 1996, on motion by Mr Humphries:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MS FOLLETT (11.05): Mr Speaker, the Opposition will be supporting this Bill. The Bill presented by the Attorney-General represents a fairly full-blooded attempt, in my view, to crack down on the licensed liquor industry in the ACT. It is my opinion that such a crackdown is wellnigh due. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that a great deal of the time of not just this Assembly but also the administration and community organisations has been taken up in recent years with various attempts to control the aftermath of irresponsible actions by liquor licensees in the ACT.
For example, some years ago we saw the introduction of police move-on powers, amidst great controversy and fanfare, ostensibly at the time for the purpose of allowing the police to move people away from licensed premises when their behaviour became antisocial or bordering on the criminal. That did not work. We have also seen the introduction of the pubcard. Amidst great fanfare and controversy, and after a great deal of consultation, the pubcard was introduced in an attempt to restrict the sale of alcohol to those over 18, as the law requires. That has not worked. We now have before the Assembly and before the community a proposal to install surveillance cameras in public places in the vicinity of licensed premises. I do not think that will work either.
Mr Speaker, my view is that until licensees behave in a responsible manner and take responsibility for their customers, whether inside or outside their premises, we will continue to have a level of relatively petty crime and antisocial behaviour that the rest of the community finds unacceptable. This Bill, Mr Speaker, addresses the heart of the matter. It starts with an innovation that I do commend, and that is a clause which formally establishes the principle of the Liquor Act. That principle is:
... to promote and encourage responsibility in the sale and consumption of liquor through the establishment of a scheme of liquor licences and permits.
It is that element of responsibility that I think the Assembly and the industry, in particular, have to take very seriously, and I do not believe it has been the case to date. We have had various patch-up measures forced upon us as an Assembly and as a community because that responsibility has not been there in the past.
Mr Speaker, this is a quite complex Bill and I am aware that the Australian Hotels Association, the major spokesperson for the licensed liquor industry, had some grave concerns about it. I have discussed those concerns at length with representatives of the AHA. I have also discussed them at length with the registrar, and I thank the Minister for making the registrar available to brief me on these issues. There is one concern raised by the AHA that I think does merit at least our sympathy, Mr Speaker, and that is that they feel they have been somewhat disadvantaged in the consultation process over these matters. I know that the AHA had been aware for some time that the Government was intending to move in this way, but the drafts of legislation and documents that the AHA