Page 195 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 13 February 2008

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will form the sample set that will tell us how drunk the rest of them were. If you do not volunteer, we do not know. Therefore we have no accuracy whatsoever.

Again it is the silliness of the government’s approach. Firstly, they said, “It is okay; it was just the Liquor Act.” Then there was the RBT. Then the Chief Minister was very graciously invited by the Leader of the Opposition to attend. He accepted. Then he declined because, on the morning of 1 February, he decided to have his own round table.

The shame of today is that Mr Corbell set himself a high bar with the issue of throwing rocks at buses. He has not been able to achieve the bar on this issue. He is writing the community out this motion and he should be ashamed. (Time expired.)

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.50): I welcome Mr Seselja’s motion. This is an issue that has received considerable attention lately, primarily because of the reporting of two incidents that have raised concern in the Canberra community. Violence at nightspots, be it in Civic, Manuka or anywhere else in the ACT, is clearly not acceptable to our community. But I want to make it clear that I do not believe there is a crisis. I do urge that there be a calm and rational response. We are not dealing with an epidemic of violence; rather, it seems that, in recent times, we have been responding to two somewhat over-reported incidents.

I was quite interested to hear the chief of police on radio this morning politely but clearly identifying that reporting of the incidents in Manuka and Civic had been greatly exaggerated. The Manuka incident, for example, involved two individuals having a fight. I am confused about what Mr Smyth has just said, in that there were no complaints to police about property damage, according to the chief of police this morning. He said he had no reports suggesting that a broken window was linked to what was a minor incident.

I happened to be in Civic having dinner with my wife at 11.30 that night. We had been at the installation of the new rector at St Paul’s. My wife and I observed that there were an incredible number of police in Manuka that night. At 11.30, there were four on foot patrol and there were two police vans. It actually caught our attention because there seemed to be a lot more than usual. So I remain somewhat confused about the extent of this event. Having heard the chief of police outline the circumstances today, I would give some weight to what he says, notwithstanding the fact that property damage in Manuka has been an issue. I have commented publicly on it in the past, along with Mr Pratt. But in this case, to classify what happened as a riot or a major incident seems to be something of an exaggeration.

I would suggest that, as the chief of police alluded to this morning, the sensationalist reporting of this incident served the purposes of sections of the media and parts of the political process. This is unfortunate and does not achieve anything for the people of Canberra. It is inevitable that there will always be a measure of alcohol-fuelled incidents at nightspots and, indeed, in a number of licensed premises. It is a fact of life that the combination of alcohol and, for the most part, young people, can lead to disagreements and violence, and I accept the view that illicit drugs are playing an increasing role in this arrangement. But it has been happening, I would suggest, around the world since the advent of alcohol. It is disruptive and dangerous to people in the vicinity and to businesses and should not be tolerated.

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