Page 194 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 13 February 2008

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the Civic event, is this. The fight started that night at about 11.30. I have gone down there; I have talked to the owners there. They said, “They started at 11.30.” As some of the restaurants were locking up, they were saying, “It’s going to be a long night for Manuka.”

One restaurant tells me that they get a window or a couple of windows smashed every month or so. But when you get four or five businesses with six or seven broken windows and varying degrees of fights that rage for about 5½ hours and culminate in shopping trolleys being thrown through windows, you cannot diminish that and say, “Oh, it’s been over-reported.” The numbers might vary, but it did occur. These windows did not break themselves.

The next day you have the new pastor at St Paul’s saying, “We’ve been here three weeks; the car’s been vandalised and the bins have been burnt. Acid has been thrown on my car.” Representatives of the Catholic church have spoken to members of the opposition and said, “We have the same problem down at St Christopher’s. People urinate in the grounds of the cathedral. There are needles; there are broken bottles; there are damaged cars.”

Having a head-in-the-sand approach is not going to fix it, but talking to the community—having agreement, putting together a broad plan that covers the entire spectrum of what is required—will. That is why we will reject the police minister’s amendment to Mr Seselja’s motion. It is just inappropriate to say, “We have done a few things; it’s okay, Jack.” It is that approach that gets you into trouble. If you want to write the community out of this motion, as the minister for police has proposed, then you are truly arrogant, you are truly out of touch and you will learn about it in October this year.

The government’s approach to these incidents when they occur is interesting. The first thing was to say, “It’s okay because we’re doing a review of the Liquor Act.” “Let’s blame the publicans.” “We’re going to have more fines in the pubs.” Two things are wrong with that. Firstly, it downgrades the severity of the offence of a publican to incorrectly serve alcohol. Everybody at the round table more or less agreed with that. These are serious offences. When people charged with selling, and having been licensed to sell, alcohol are doing it incorrectly, they should not be slapped with a fine; they should take it seriously, because the majority of publicans, restaurant owners and clubs do the right thing in this city.

So first and foremost, the government’s approach was wrong. Then the government came up with the ludicrous idea of “Well, let’s have RBTs. We’ll have random breath testing on the street.” What is the fine for being in possession of a pair of speeding sneakers? I am not sure what it will be. But there is a duty of care. If an officer gets somebody to blow in the machine and they are over the limit, perhaps dangerously so, there is a duty of care to either take those people into custody and sober them up at the watch-house or at the drying-out shelter or to charge them if their behaviour warrants it.

To say that we are simply going to sample the level of drunkenness in Civic on a voluntary basis is ludicrous. The statistical accuracy in that is nil; it is absolutely zero. We are going to line 100 people up at Civic at a point in time, and only the volunteers

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