Page 197 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 13 February 2008

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are, thankfully, more reasonable. For example, I have already indicated my broad support for the government’s on-the-spot fines proposal, a position that has also been championed by the opposition.

I believe that the Liberals’ suggestion of a “more formalised system of communication between both police and licensed establishments and between individual hotels and nightclubs, targeting violent or unruly patrons who have been ejected” is something that, in theory, sounds very good. However, I do have some serious doubts—and I know that these are echoed by the industry—about whether such a system could work in practice.

I see little sense in pursuing proposals that sound good on paper but that in fact will not work in practice. The suggestion for an improved Nightrider service is sensible and, if it was utilised by enough people, I would have no problem with supporting an expanded service. I have heard from my own children when they have been out in Civic that one of the biggest frustrations is getting cabs home, which we have talked about here ad nauseam.

The point about CCTV is an interesting one. CCTV cameras should be operational and monitored, and should focus on known hotspots. I am aware that some venues in Canberra invest significantly in onsite CCTV facilities, with some having as many as 40 or 50 cameras in some venues. It is not unreasonable to expect, therefore, public spaces to be similarly monitored with effective CCTV cameras, and this is an area that should be improved. Whatever you think about the “big brother” tenor of this, the effectiveness of this, particularly in the UK, has assisted law enforcement agencies enormously in apprehending people who have broken the law and who have been involved in violence.

I also take the opportunity to comment on the Chief Minister’s proposal to introduce voluntary random breath testing of patrons to provide data on the level of intoxication in nightspots. This is an ill-considered plan and will produce skewed and flawed data that is of little use to anyone. Most reasonable people—and, as I stated earlier, these represent the vast majority of people who frequent Canberra’s nightspots, as Dr Foskey said—would object to an RBT when they are sitting and enjoying a drink with friends. As a result, the data produced will be skewed to the intoxicated few who consent to the test—and who knows where they became intoxicated. It is a worldwide trend that many young people now drink in private surrounds and then go out to venues quite late in the evening. Unfortunately, this is often how problems start. It is cheaper to drink at a mate’s place and then go to Civic at midnight or one in the morning. If people are denied entry, that often causes the problem, and the venue itself may not have been responsible for the state these people are in.

As I have already said, we are not dealing with a crisis or uncontrolled violence running rampant through Civic, Manuka and Kingston, unless somebody tells me that the statistics are flawed. I am certainly keen to see us have serious discussions about ways to reduce the amount of violence that does occur and to consider genuine solutions to the problem. But we cannot support ill-considered responses to a perceived crisis that may not in fact exist. I understand that the government is seeking to amend this motion. I will be supporting the new wording because I believe the way it was originally crafted makes it unduly exclusive to the opposition.

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