Page 3880 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 19 September 2017

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This bill is a welcome reform to our law to address identified gaps in our crimes statutes to keep Canberra’s nightlife safer, especially for young people. I am pleased with the level of consultation that has been undertaken to inform the bill, and I hope these laws will mean that victims and witnesses are more likely to report drink spiking, law enforcement agencies will be more able to take decisive action and offenders will face consequences for their actions where they intended to harm.

By criminalising drink and food spiking we are sending a strong signal that drink spiking is unacceptable, but this bill also takes a balanced approach by using the test of a reasonable person when considering the fault element so as to not unduly penalise those who are providing extra alcohol in drinks for friends, for example, without intention to harm. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (12.23), in reply: In concluding this debate I wish to acknowledge and thank members for their contribution today on this important matter and express my appreciation to the opposition and the Greens for their support. The speeches today have highlighted a number of important areas of this bill and its effect.

The government is committed to maintaining a safe and vibrant night economy in Canberra, and the Crimes (Food or Drink Spiking) Amendment Bill is a criminal law reform that supports our comprehensive approach to safety. Already this year this government has delivered on safety. We have provided more police to enforce the law and targeted regulation changes to our licence industry and provided practical help for people who need it. This bill will help us to hold people responsible for a dangerous activity that disproportionately targets women and that disproportionately occurs in licensed establishments.

A 2009 study by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that one-third of drink spiking incidents are linked to other serious crimes, including sexual assault. This study also found that incidents of drink spiking are mostly prevalent at licensed premises. Addressing this crime is an important part of making Canberra safe for people who want to enjoy a night out.

We are getting down to business, making our night precincts both vibrant and safe. The 2017-18 budget provided funding for six additional police officers. They will focus on patrolling night precincts, and these additional police resources will also help to increase proactive liquor licensing enforcement activities, support regional targeting team officers being deployed to major ACT events and develop targeted campaigns with key ACT government stakeholders.

The government has also established the CBR NightCrew to support Canberrans enjoying a night out. The CBR NightCrew commenced in late 2016 and provides practical assistance to Canberrans, including basic first aid and a safe place to get support, with transport to get home safely.

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