Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (31 August) . . Page.. 2633 ..
Debate resumed from 1 July 1999, on motion by Mr Humphries:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (4.23): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, the Liquor (Amendment) Bill amends the Liquor Act on a range of matters. It picks up recommendations from the 1997 report of the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs that some of the material in the voluntary codes of practice for liquor licensees be included in the Licensing Standards Manual. The Licensing Standards Manual was established under the Liquor Act and there are penalties for failure to meet its requirements. In that report the committee concluded that licensees generally were paying only lip service to the voluntary code and that an enforceable code was required. The amendments to the Act reflected in this Bill do that by including, for example, checking for proof of age and the conduct of functions for under-age persons in the range of matters that can be covered in the Licensing Standards Manual.
The Bill makes the Liquor Licensing Board rather than the Registrar of Liquor Licences responsible for the Licensing Standards Manual and also enables the Liquor Licensing Board to amend the manual with the written approval of the Minister. It is notable that the manual is a disallowable instrument.
The Bill also introduces a new division, Division 2, that addresses under-age drinking. The new division introduces a number of changes. For example, it brings existing offences, such as buying, possessing and consuming alcohol by persons aged under 18, into the new section, and it reduces the definition of responsible adult from being a person 18 years of age or more to a parent, step-parent, guardian, person acting in place of a parent, carer or spouse. It introduces a new offence for a licensee if a minor is on licensed premises and is not in the care of a responsible adult. There are also a number of other machinery type changes to the Liquor Act that are acceptable.
I am pleased to say, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, that the Bill is acceptable to the Labor Party and we welcome the attempts being made through this legislation to address the serious and worrying issue of the attraction of alcohol to significant numbers of young people in our community. It is a serious issue that I know all parents worry about. The abuse of alcohol, in the minds of many, equals or perhaps outweighs, in the eyes of some, the abuse of some other drugs, so we are more than pleased to support these attempts at continuing to address the problem of under-age drinking.
Before concluding, I will make some mention of Scrutiny Report No. 8 of 1999 of the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety which was tabled on 19 August. I mention this to draw attention to the very detailed exposition that the scrutiny of Bills committee has given on this Bill and to the question of the burden of proof in legislation generally. It was the Liquor (Amendment) Bill which encouraged the scrutiny of Bills