Page 195 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 10 February 2010

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The guiding principle behind the Greens’ discussion paper released last year was the idea that everyone should be able to go out at night and have a good time without the risk of violence. Canberra should be a place where everyone feels safe and comfortable. And, while I think Canberra may be hard pressed to turn on a show like the Multicultural Festival every weekend, I do think there are elements we can take from last Saturday night. Those essential elements are safety and vibrancy. These are two starting principles Canberra can adopt for our nightlife and one I think we would all seek to embrace.

I have moved this motion today to highlight a number of key points: firstly, the need to act to create a safer and more vibrant Canberra nightlife; secondly, the fact that independent research and consultation projects were undertaken by both the Greens and the government and that some of the fundamental findings of each are backed by strong evidence and will go towards building a safer nightlife in our city; thirdly, the need to act on those policy proposals that are backed by evidence and have them implemented before the next summer season; and, fourthly, the need to engage the community and fully explain the new laws before they commence.

We need to spark a cultural change around drinking in Canberra and this will not happen simply by the government legislating. We also need to explain those changes. The Greens and the government, as I have touched on, have both conducted our own research and consultation on the issue of alcohol-related violence. It is with some frustration—

Mrs Dunne: It just didn’t take as long as the government.

MR RATTENBURY: It is with some frustration, as Mrs Dunne is alluding to, that I note the government started their consultation process in April 2008 yet did not release the discussion paper on intended action until September 2009, and at this stage do not have a clear timetable for moving to change.

Whilst it is obviously important to engage all of the relevant players and to allow sufficient time to do so, it is also important to keep moving forward with reform in this area and to have a clear timetable for action. That is why one of the central elements of our motion today is to put some clear deadlines on this work so that we can focus towards meeting those deadlines.

Whilst the Greens and the government have worked up our discussion papers through separate processes, I was pleased to see a healthy level of common ground on a number of key findings in our respective discussion papers. That is an outcome that I think provides fertile ground for positive change, for actually getting agreement in this place to pass the legislation through the chamber in a timely manner.

Both the Greens and the government looked carefully at a risk-based licensing framework and concluded that it is a valuable tool to adopt to work towards the overarching goal of a safe and vibrant Canberra nightlife. The evidence shows that there are two clear factors that indicate the risk of a particular venue experiencing violence: firstly, venue capacity and, secondly, venue trading hours.

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