Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 13 February 2008) . . Page.. 198 ..
Finally, very late the other night, I was watching television from the UK. I heard one of the senior British police talk about an identical issue. This is not an issue that just happens in Canberra; it is a major problem in the UK. It was interesting that the senior police officer said that, at the end of the day, there is only so much that the police can do, and that the responsibility has to go back to individuals. Changing trading hours is not the answer. I have lived in and been to countries where pubs close at 11 and 12 and the streets are still war zones. It depends on the culture of the place you live in. I do not think those solutions are the way to go.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (5.00): I foreshadow that I will be supporting Mr Corbell’s amendment. The government has already commenced work on a number of positive initiatives relating to Canberra’s nightlife and the related law and order issues. It has engaged in wide consultation with a number of stakeholders to discuss the best way forward on these important issues.
The Attorney-General yesterday introduced the Crimes Amendment Bill 2008 in response to concerns raised with him by the Chief Police Officer late last year. The bill lays the groundwork for an infringement notice scheme and for a suite of street offences. This will allow for the issue of infringement notices for the offences of urinating in a public place, failing to comply with a noise abatement direction, defacing premises and consuming liquor in certain public places.
Police officers and inspectors of licensed premises under the Liquor Act will be able to issue infringement notices for the offence of consuming liquor in certain public places. This offence occurs where a person consumes liquor within 50 metres of a bus interchange, a shop, licensed premises or a place prescribed by regulation. The infringement notice will carry a penalty of $100.
The bill addresses the difficulty currently faced by police in prosecuting this type of offence by removing the requirement that police must prove that a beverage is in fact liquor, even if it is being drunk from a liquor bottle, which currently requires that the police must undertake forensic analysis of the beverage in order to prosecute the offence. There was evidence of this just last weekend at the Canberra Connect festival, where I had my stall on the solar premium. Two individuals were each consuming a case of beer in a public place directly outside my stall. They were not offensive, but the fact is that it does not bring the appropriate—
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: They were happy, were they, Mr Gentleman?
MR GENTLEMAN: They certainly were. As I was saying, the bill addresses the difficulty currently faced by police in prosecuting this type of offence. The introduction of these infringement notices will add to the existing number of options available to police to deal with offensive and disruptive behaviour in Canberra’s nightspots. The Office of Regulatory Services is already well advanced in implementing the operation of recommendations made by the Auditor-General in relation to better regulation of ACT liquor licences. The Office of Regulatory Services is currently implementing the development of regulatory risk management plans and compliance programs, improved assessment and scrutiny of liquor licensing documentation and liquor licensing procedures, and better training for liquor licensing staff.