Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 April 2008) . . Page.. 854 ..
MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for this question. I am disappointed that those opposite think it is funny. There are important issues that need to be addressed when it comes to binge drinking and the sale and consumption of alcohol in our community. Unlike those opposite, who seek to denigrate and downgrade the significance of this issue, the government believes that it is important that these issues drive a substantial review of the Liquor Act here in the ACT.
For that reason, yesterday I released a discussion paper on the government’s commitment to review the Liquor Act in the ACT. I remind members that this follows a commitment made by the Chief Minister earlier this year that we would release a discussion paper by the end of March. That is what has been done. We have met that time frame and that discussion paper is now available for people to comment on.
In that discussion paper, the government is outlining a range of factors that the community needs to consider and which we are seeking community feedback on. Again, the opposition just does not seem to care about this issue. They seem to be completely unhelpful and disparaging when it comes to a very important piece of policy reform.
We want to hear from the whole community on the issues around how the Liquor Act should operate in the future. The types of issues that will be considered as part of this include, obviously, the licensing regime itself, whether we should change the classification of licences and whether we should move to a risk-based approach for licence allocation. This would mirror approaches taken in some other jurisdictions such as Queensland.
Some licences see more risky behaviours associated with the consumption of alcohol. The late-night sale of alcohol, sale of alcohol from nightclubs and pubs open after midnight—those types of activities are deemed to be higher risk and higher cost to the community. Therefore should we, for example, put in place a more onerous fee regime for those licence holders compared to those who are more low risk—the suburban restaurant open only until 10 pm that serves alcohol with a meal? Obviously that is a lower risk activity and something which could perhaps attract a lower licence fee. These are the types of approaches the government is exploring in its discussion paper. I look forward to feedback from the community on that.
The government is also exploring issues such as random breath testing in nightclubs and in public areas. This issue has been raised by a number of people in our community. Indeed, I get frequent representations from people who sell breath-testing products. They say that it should be made mandatory for those breath-testing products—breathalysers—to be made available in licensed clubs and hotels. That issue raises all sorts of questions. The government has no concluded view on this matter, but we believe it should be put to the test through the discussion paper process. That is what we will be doing.
We will also be pursuing in the discussion paper the issue of closing times. Are the extended opening hours on the liberal basis we have at the moment appropriate going forward? Should we consider issues such as lockouts for nightclub districts where you