Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 April 2008) . . Page.. 711 ..
It is those blatant acts around our shopping centres and our entertainment areas that we need to be clamping down on. It is those acts which shopkeepers and innocent people who are using the area and who are abiding by the law really abhor and which in many instances scare them. And blatant acts such as people fighting in public places and conducting offensive behaviour should also be covered by the government’s bill, but they are not. Fifteen or 20 years ago, there was a real problem with people drinking alcohol around bus interchanges, wandering around and causing mayhem. That is why the laws were changed to make it an offence to drink within 50 metres of a bus interchange, a licensed establishment or a shopping centre. That was a compromise; I think in my bill the distance involved was 200 metres.
It is good to see that bill remain in place. It is good to see it has been improved by taking away the need for police to prove that there is alcohol in the container. That was a big issue then. It is probably less of an issue now. It is a shame that the government has missed a golden opportunity to get it right and to cover all the offences that all the police I have spoken to—and surely Mr Corbell speaks to police officers as well; I would hope so—actually wanted included. He needs to listen more to the police officers who are on the beat. He needs to listen more to what people in the community want.
I commend my bill to the Assembly. I think it is a far better bill than Mr Corbell’s. I can read the numbers. He has indicated that the government is opposing it. So be it: it will go down. I will be moving two amendments regarding the two most crucial areas which are not contained in the legislation—fighting in a public place and offensive behaviour. When we come to the detail stage of his bill, I will urge members to vote for those amendments. Given that my bill will go down, the opposition at least will be supporting Mr Corbell’s bill as it is better than nothing, but with those two crucial amendments.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.02): We have two bills before us today. The Greens are willing to support the government’s bill, which involves the introduction of on-the-spot fines for street offences that incorporate alcohol, noise and graffiti. However, it is not without some unease that I do this, because the ACT government does not appear to have thoroughly prepared the legislation and thought through the issues before tabling it in the Assembly—witness the amendment that the government has just tabled, which corrects one of the concerns that we and probably the Children and Young People’s Commissioner had about this legislation being legislation on the run.
In providing my support, I request that the Attorney-General prioritise work on converting fine defaults to community service hours and that the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services undertake improvements to community notice boards. Although the first is quite a serious issue and the second apparently quite minor, they are both really essential to the practical enforcement of this legislation.
In regard to Mr Stefaniak’s bill, I do want to say that we are a very small Assembly. My office is quite close to Mr Stefaniak’s; it is not far to walk to. There is always the telephone—please pick it up and give us a ring. It is not a good look for an opposition