Page 1457 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005

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Further, it is suggested that on the night of the fracas two police did attend but had stood off some 100 metres for an hour, watching; no attempt was made to intervene. I can understand, as Mr Stefaniak referred to, that there may have been apprehension about not having backup, but the resident witnesses indicated that an illegal stun gun was used in the fracas. The resident who raised this with the opposition, a former policeman, indicated that his complaint has been disregarded. I was not there and I do not know all the circumstances, but it is disturbing that people come forward with these incidents.

Two weeks ago I received a call, logged at 4.30 in the morning, from a constituent who called me to tell me their other half was being assaulted in Manuka by a group of people and that three of them required medical treatment thereafter. They sought the assistance of police in the area, who indicated they were preoccupied with a stabbing further up the street. This was in Manuka, which is supposed to be one of our more prominent, exclusive or safe entertainment districts and shopping areas. From the neighbourhood there I am getting a complaint almost every week, and I do not understand what is going on.

The minister makes light of it, but I have had young women contact my office who have reported threats and attempts at robbery. I took my wife to a film in Manuka the other evening. There are police patrol cars there now on the footpath and there are police squads with dogs, and I think it is encouraging that there is a presence. But it seems to me that there is a fundamental issue in that neighbourhood and in Kingston—but particularly Manuka—of recent times that is leading to violence and assaults. I would like to see that stamped out and I know the residents of the neighbouring suburbs who patronise those facilities are genuinely concerned.

People are reluctant at times after hours to go to the Coles car park there to pick up their vehicle. A woman working in the area spoke to me only two days ago about her concern. I have had a car vandalised twice there, and on one occasion my wife waited five hours while the police kept saying they were coming and then kept saying they had higher priorities, asking her to wait with the vehicle. So there are issues there.

Patrols are important, despite what Dr Wedderburn from the New South Wales crime statistics branch might say. Kingston has enjoyed the benefit of more foot patrols, but I believe that about a year or so ago the police overtime budget ran out and it was felt by licensees in that area that it was no coincidence that a serious violent assault that occurred a week or two after that overtime ceased did result in the death of a person. The two events may not be associated but it seems, from every view of licensed premises that I have received, that a police presence tends to discourage people from embarking on assault as a solution to disputes. I had advice this morning from one business that they are spending $3,000 a week on security to deal with people who approach their premises—I am not talking about people inside who are intoxicated—with weapons, threats and so forth and put at risk those who work on the door of those premises.

We need to take a tougher view on these matters. The motion deserves support and I would encourage the minister to listen carefully to the issues that have been raised by members of this side of the house.

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