Page 279 - Week 01 - Thursday, 14 February 2008

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of community safety policy is to ensure that our community is comfortable, safe and to allow all of our residents to achieve their full potential, to live comfortably and to make a contribution.

It is also important that our younger Canberrans feel that when they grow up they will realise their full potential, knowing that they need not look over their shoulder to see whether they are having a safe day or an unsafe day. That is the problem that exists in other places. We do not want that to occur here, and that is the objective of community safety policy.

Recently we had a roundtable discussion. The Leader of the Opposition talked in some detail about that this week. It was his roundtable. It was a good roundtable. It addressed what has been fairly clear in the press in recent months: safety concerns around Civic on Friday and Saturday nights, and around Manuka and Kingston to a lesser degree. Clearly, in the roundtable coordinated by Mr Seselja, which I attended, there were differences of opinion. There were differences of opinion on just what level of safety there is in Civic. There was certainly a hell of a lot of press coverage indicating that things are not so safe at all.

We have to respect the views put during the opposition’s roundtable. Some of the stakeholders who were present did not feel that things were any worse than they have been for some years. For the record, I will say this here: in their view, a lot of the picture painted was a media beat-up. That is what a number of quite notable stakeholders said. They have a right to say that, and the opposition have taken those comments on board.

Be that as it may, a majority of the participants at that roundtable still felt there were significant problems that needed to be addressed. They were in some agreement that we do not have a crime epidemic in Civic and Manuka and that things have got somewhat better. We in the opposition think that things have got a little better, too. But, by God, there is still a long way to go, particularly seeing as it is the nation’s capital. The nation’s capital needs to be seen as a showcase city. We should show the rest of Australia that we are very proud of our city. It is a clean and safe city, and we in the opposition think that a lot more can be done to that end.

In that roundtable conference that was held 12 or 14 days ago, as well as outside that forum, taxi drivers, taxi owners and more senior members of the taxi industry have continually indicated they are concerned that security matters in Civic are not being properly addressed. I know that the taxi industry is currently in negotiation with the government to do something about that.

When taxi drivers avoid providing a service in Civic on Friday and Saturday nights—that is, market-rich environments for taxi drivers—and when they are not going to Civic in significant numbers, clearly something must be wrong. If they are saying they feel that when they park in Alinga Street, and in and around the bus interchange, the environment is not particularly safe and that they are having fare evasion problems and those sorts of things, I think we must listen very closely to what they are saying. When other observers are backing those observations, we must take note.

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