Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4985 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
I am glad to see that we have taken this step. While there were some clinical machinations occurring around that decision, I think the Assembly reached a reasonable agreement when the legislation was debated. However, we must remain vigilant against any proposals to water down that decision or delay its implementation and ensure that the necessary monitoring occurs so that businesses are aware of the changes and are able to assist with a smooth transition to a healthier, safer environment for ACT consumers and workers.
MRS DUNNE (11.22): Mr Speaker, I want to speak briefly on this matter. I want to speak specifically on enforcement. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, the track record of the current government on enforcement is a poor one. As we go about the city, we often visit licensed establishments that have exemptions and have smoke extractors on, or may not have smoke extractors on, and at the same time we often see breaches of the licensing laws in relation to people smoking in proximity to the bars.
I received an email the other day from someone who said that in his experience of visiting licensed establishments in Canberra he had only on one occasion seen a member of the bar staff have the guts to tell someone to take their cigarette away from the bar. The people who serve behind bars are in the business of customer service and it is often very difficult for them to be up front and assert their rights, but it is a matter of them asserting their rights and sometimes they are not inclined to do so. They do need the support of their employers and their licensees to allow them to do so and my experience is that it is often very difficult for people to do so.
I would like to raise in an indirect way my own experiences of occasions when complaints have been made to the health inspectors who go and inspect licensed premises. I have brought to the attention of the health inspectors a licensed premises which does not turn on its extractor fans or does not have them on all the time. I know that the premises have been inspected on a number of occasions and no-one has been found to be in breach, fined or had their licence suspended.
If we are going to have exemptions and we are going to have rules relating to them, the people who run licensed premises and who pay a lot of money for the privilege of having a smoking environment in their establishment need to adhere to the responsibilities that go with that. They need to keep them on and they need to keep them fully serviced. If health inspectors and licensing inspectors visit the premises and they are not on, they should be found to be in breach, especially if they are repeat offenders.
MRS CROSS (11.24): Mr Speaker, the smoking issue was an interesting issue to work on. Blind Freddy knows that having smoking rooms has not worked. The exemptions, albeit well-intentioned, did not work. We know that passive smoking is dangerous; it has been proven by every independent study conducted in the world. There was a very high proportion of non-compliance with the exemptions in the ACT.
We have started by banning smoking in enclosed public spaces, but I would like to support the comments made by Mrs Dunne on enforcement. The greatest complaint that I had from the clubs that lobbied me on how long we should take to phase in a smoking ban was that the enforcement was not there. They said that we would not need to do what we were doing if the government had done the right thing and ensured that all these places were monitored regularly, rather than in an irregular, haphazard way, if that.