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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (31 August) . . Page.. 2635 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

general conduct of many people in our community are definitely giving a double message to young people, so you cannot altogether blame them for thinking that it is okay.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (4.30), in reply: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I thank members for their support for the legislation. It is a clean-up of the Liquor Act. It provides a number of reforms that reflect the need to ensure that the legislation is capable of delivering on the objectives generally outlined within it; that is, that it be able to limit occupancy loadings to safe levels; that it be able to exclude under-age consumers from using alcohol; that it be able to ensure premises are operated in a safe and effective way; and, generally, that the harm associated with the abuse of alcohol in the community be minimised as much as possible.

The amendments which have been outlined in the course of the debate today are necessary because there is a continuing struggle to ensure that the objectives of the legislation are being addressed. There is, unfortunately, still an element of resistance in the liquor industry in the ACT to the concept that we do need to enforce strictly rules that prevent the overloading of premises, or the use by under-age people of those premises, or access by inappropriate people to those premises, or other standards and conditions associated with the operation of those premises.

Ms Tucker asked me a question earlier today about enforcement of the law relating to advertising of premises and their energy efficiency ratings, and I said that there were a range of areas where government priorities would have to be set. I think it is true to say, for example, that liquor law enforcement remains an area of ongoing and very considerable government concern in that there are such significant breaches of the law taking place on a regular basis. We need to enforce the law, both from the point of view of taking action out on the street, as it were, to make sure that those who are breaking the law are brought to account for that, and also in the legislative arena to make sure that the laws are up to the standard required to enforce the principles inherent in them.

I am pleased to say that there is continuing enforcement action taking place in the first of those areas. Only in the last couple of weeks we have seen decisions to impose significant penalties on three licensed premises in the ACT for overloading, including, I think in a couple of cases, the suspension of those premises' licences for 24 hours, to indicate that these offences are very seriously regarded by relevant authorities and they will result in people suffering penalties, including hip-pocket type penalties, if they insist on breaking the law.

The changes which the Assembly makes today help us to enforce those laws. They help us to send a signal that we are not treating liquor laws as being marginal or of limited relevance in their application in the Territory. Every one of the provisions of the Liquor Act is important and will be enforced. We insist that the industry pay attention to that and we will follow through on those who choose not to obey the law. I thank members for their support for the legislation.

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