Page 2326 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008
relaxed attitude it has of not really getting to the root of the problem, and that is: people actually need to be made responsible for their own actions. It is all very well to put a lot of the onus on industry. That is fair enough; you do need strict controls here. But very little is being done to actually stop people or deter people behaving in an antisocial way.
The government passed some laws early this year which went about 30 per cent of the way in terms of what they could do to help counter unruly, antisocial behaviour by liquored-up people in major entertainment areas around Canberra—things like on-the-spot fines for urinating in a public place. A couple of other on-the-spot fines helped. But the government missed the main offences—fighting in a public place, offensive behaviour.
I think it is a nonsense to actually say that those are things that are better left for the court; they are not. It has been tried elsewhere. In some parts of Sydney where on-the-spot fines were introduced, we saw a decline of some 50 per cent in street offences caused by people who had far too much to drink and/or, these days, had combined that with illicit drugs as well, which gives you a horrible cocktail which causes all sorts of problems. Indeed, these people do it to themselves and, more concerning, to law-abiding citizens who should be able to walk around these trouble spots without fear of being assaulted or abused by people who have had far too much to drink or are affected by drugs or other illicit substances as well.
There are things I think the government does need to do which other places are doing. For example, even in Queanbeyan, they are looking at what occurs quite successfully in Queensland and other states. After a certain time, 1.00 am, people cannot go into a licensed establishment. The people who are there can stay until closing time but you simply cannot go in if you have not been in there already. That seems to be working well. And I think there are a lot of initiatives like that which this government seems, for some unknown reason, totally reluctant to actually try. I think we need to look at all these solutions to have an effective impact on these kinds of problems.
It concerns me that taxi drivers simply do not want to go into Civic because they fear that the least that will happen is perhaps someone might try to evade a fare or throw up in their cab. But more worrying is the fact that they themselves might well be assaulted. And there are issues which are probably more of a transport bent but which I am not going to get into. They just show the problems. We need a much more effective, holistic approach to these problems.
But certainly in terms of what JACS can do, I think what is needed is further improvements to the laws and a further emphasis on making people responsible for their own actions. At the end of the day, if police can issue on the-spot-fines for people who are fighting in a public place or engaged in offensive behaviour, that will help concentrate their minds and be a significant deterrent in future for some of those people, as well as ensuring that police are not needlessly taken off the beat to deal with aggressive and abusive drunks.
Staying on the subject of the Office of Regulatory Services for just a moment, I would applaud the funding for an education officer in the OH&S area. Working proactively