Page 4819 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 1 November 2017

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Government—night-life safety measures

MR PETTERSSON: My question is to the Minister for Regulatory Services. As the weather gets a little bit warmer, as people get a little bit more festive, how are we going to keep people safe on a night out?

MR RAMSAY: I thank Mr Pettersson for his question. The liquor reform package that we have rolled out during 2017 has not only reduced red tape for Canberra businesses; it has done a lot to ensure that our city has a safe and vibrant night-time economy. Through targeted fee reductions for small venues, red tape reduction across the industry and funding for six more police officers to patrol night precincts, we are delivering better conditions for small businesses and a safer environment for people enjoying a night out.

Licensees now have a statutory power to evict or refuse entry to intoxicated, violent or disorderly patrons. This legislated ability to exclude people who pose a risk to themselves and others means that licensees and staff are able to deal more confidently with these situations.

We have also given the Commissioner for Fair Trading an explicit power to require a licensee to install CCTV cameras if, for example, a pattern of incidents in a venue means that the presence of CCTV cameras will help prevent and investigate incidents of violence. Alongside legislative changes, we have funded new police resources to patrol and monitor the most active night venues in Canberra. It is a direct investment in ensuring the safety of Canberrans who enjoy a night out.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, what has the government done to increase protection for individuals?

MR RAMSAY: An important part of having a good night out is to ensure that everyone can have a good time and be safe while they are out. To assist with this, earlier this year, with tripartisan support, we legislated for better criminal laws to target drink spiking. These reforms target behaviour that is often part of violence against women and that this community absolutely will not tolerate.

The new laws to criminalise drink and food spiking make it an offence to give someone food or drink that contains an intoxicating substance that they are not aware of or more of an intoxicating substance than the person expects. The offender must also intend to cause harm, although the harm does not have to have actually occurred for an offence to be committed. Offenders are liable for a fine of up to $75,000 or five years in jail.

These laws send a strong message that drink spiking is unacceptable behaviour. It says that spiking as a malicious prank or as an attempt to instigate a sexual assault will not be tolerated. Everyone out enjoying our city’s increasingly diverse and vibrant nightlife should be free to have a good night without the fear of having their drinks interfered with and their personal safety compromised.

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