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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4779 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

ACT community need to set a good example for our children. Our children in schools need to understand that Australia Day is very important. I just do not know that we as a community will now be setting the right example.

Social problems

MRS DUNNE (11.10): Mr Speaker, I want to dwell on one of the terms that have been bandied around a lot in the last couple of sitting weeks, and that is "underlying". I just have to go back to something Ms Tucker said, to point to one of the things that caught my attention in the use of the term "underlying". We talked a lot in the last couple of weeks about the underlying causes for a whole range of things and a whole lot of social problems, from homelessness to crime, to antisocial behaviour and graffiti. The reason I commented in the adjournment debate last week about Ms Tucker and hip-hop was that I thought that she was saying that hip-hop was one of the underlying causes of graffiti, and I may have misinterpreted that.

I was rather amused listening to Ms Tucker, because I thought that the tone of the Assembly could be improved somewhat, and I would not consider it in the least disorderly, if Ms Tucker had in fact rapped her speech on graffiti. I think I made the point that it would be enhanced by Ms Dundas on the beat box, and I do not consider that disorderly at all.

Although, unlike Ms Tucker, I am not a great fan of hip-hop, I live with it a lot and I have a daughter who is an amateur MC. They think that it is great, but it is just not my style of music. Mr Cornwell might think that, if hip-hop was in fact one of the underlying causes of graffiti, perhaps we should ban hip-hop as well, and I suspect there might be a lot parents around town that would appreciate that from time to time.

But on the more serious subject of the underlying causes, we talk a lot in this place about the underlying causes of social problems, and it is one of those things that are very hard to address. We have talked about the underlying causes of homelessness, crime and a whole range of antisocial behaviours, and it is often a challenge to actually identify what that underlying cause is. Even if we can find it, sometimes it is something like poverty, unemployment or mental illness-which means that, even after many generations, governments and institutions have come no nearer to abolishing it. I do not want to be glib about this. These underlying causes of social problems are issues that need to be addressed by legislators, and, like most of us here, I believe that prevention is better than cure.

One has to be careful about terms like "social capital", but we do know such factors are important in determining the nature of our society. Youth marginalisation is a real phenomenon, and perhaps I have been guilty of marginalising the youth by being glib about hip-hop, and, if that is the case, I apologise.

There is indeed a risk of relying too much on enforcement and on increasing penalties as a kind of authoritarian response, and we have seen this in many places. But the other side of the coin is that we often say, "No, you can't go down that path because we need to look at the underlying causes of the problem,"as though it is an excuse for neglecting enforcement.

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