Page 3202 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 24 August 2005

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I am particularly concerned at the response from the minister’s office. The minister himself did not respond, but the response from the spokesperson was: “I urge everyone to take responsibility for their own actions.” That is of concern. What on earth is wrong with an ordinary, law-abiding citizen coming out of a movie theatre? The person then goes off about his or her lawful business and is wantonly attacked in the street. What on earth could a person like that be expected to do to take further responsibility for their own actions? People should have the right to walk around our community at night and feel safe. I think it is a sad indictment of our society generally that they do not.

But I think it is also a sad indictment of this government that their only response can be to urge people to take responsibility for their own actions. That is really blaming the victim rather than looking at the problem. I think the problem might well be sheeted home—apart from a general propensity, unfortunately, these days for more violence in our community than there might have been 20, 30 or 40 years ago—to a lack of suitable response on behalf of our overstretched police force, our police force who, on current figures, are at least 100 under strength; who obviously have intense difficulties in going about the duties they quite clearly really want to do to protect our community, the difficulties imposed on them by a government that refuses to adequately resource this most crucial arm of society; the people who are at the end of the line, the thin blue line that protects us.

I am certainly calling on this government—I do not know whether they will be able to do it because of the lack of resourcing to our police force—to increase the number of patrols, especially around spots like Civic and to ensure that there is a visible police presence there. In the past that has occurred. Incidents like this simply do not occur if you have enough police, if they are there ready enough. If people see them, it makes it a lot harder for unprovoked attacks like this to occur. I am appalled that the government is attempting to blame the victims and is coming up with idiotic comments like urging ordinary, law-abiding citizens to take responsibility for their own actions. What on earth are they expected to do? Lock up their doors and not go out at night?

The second matter is just a quick one. In talking about people assisting the parliamentary rugby side last week, I left out one of the vets, one David Murray, who is a stalwart of the vets and who played an excellent game in Sydney, with the rest of us: my apologies to David. I have already bought him a schooner. I now include my thanks to him as well.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.11): I rise this evening to speak about ADD and ADHD. Last Saturday, it was my honour to represent the education minister, Katy Gallagher, and open an ADHD conference for teachers, support personnel and other professionals, organised by the Canberra and Queanbeyan ADD support group. Thanks to the farsighted and hard-working volunteer members of the support group, participants at the conference had the opportunity to learn from world authorities on ADD and ADHD—from presenters such as Professor Rosemary Tannock from the hospital for sick children in Toronto, Professor Michael Sawyer from the department of paediatrics at Adelaide University and Mr Mark Brandtman, an educational consultant specialising in ADHD and a father of three children who have been diagnosed with ADHD.

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