Chambers of Parliament both at state and federal levels are pretty damn entertaining places to be from all reports. Far from being boring and drab, like so many of our politicians appear to be, parliament is often a glorified comedy club with witty zingers and cheap shots being the order of the day. Paul John Keating was the undisputed champion of comedy with some of his fair calls going down as the greatest in history. But he was not alone in his love of indulging in a bit of banter with his rivals. Everyone enjoys getting in on the act with Hockey, Turnbull, Andrews, Latham and even Gillard all known to have produced a few classics in their time. When Tony Abbott is officially done with politics he could do worse than form a comedy duo with Peter Costello. They’d be almost as good as their namesakes from the 1940s, although maybe not quite as popular.
It’s not all fun and games in parliament though. Every now and then members will spend their days vigorously debating the big issues and implementing laws that benefit society. However on some days, such as Thursday 30th January 2014 they spend their time discussing legislation that was handed to them that very morning, making ill-informed comment based on nothing but anecdotal evidence and outright lies. They’ll also passionately argue points that they do not even believe in, and support legislation they oppose for the sole purpose of seeing it fail.
On Thursday 30th January 2014 the controversial Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014 and Liquor Amendment Bill 2014 were passed. However as transcripts of the days discussion reveals, the legislation was not distributed to members to scrutinise until that very morning. How on Earth were they supposed to properly vote on legislation they had zero time to properly research, consider the impact said legislation would have or even gauge what the sentiment was amongst their constituents? I believe voting for legislation without completing due diligence is in absolute breach of their duties and responsibilities as elected representatives of the people of NSW.
This evidence will be included as part of my submission to the upcoming review, and I am looking into the legalities of this behaviour and whether or not it was even constitutional. If any Dennis Denuto or preferably Lawrence Hammill QC types are reading this, let’s chat. These laws are most certainly are in breach of the vibe!
In all seriousness though, it does not appear just that members voted on a bill based on untruths, irrelevant and poorly linked evidence or simply spite. This stinks and needs to be brought to mainstream public attention immediately. If indeed something is amiss, it will be time to call in someone with the expertise, the profile and the balls. I’m looking at you,
Cleaver Greene Charles Waterstreet!
Before delving into what was said on January 30 2014, it’s important to observe the remarks of the reforms two biggest champions. Not the public poster men of the cause, Ralph Kelly and Dr Gordian Fulde, but the main parliamentary advocates. Former Premier Barry O’Farrell and the man with perhaps the most inappropriate portfolio since Tony Abbott declared himself Minister for Women –George Souris. Or in the interests of writing with the upmost decorum, Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing, Minister for the Arts and Minister for the Hunter George Souris.
We all remember Barry O’Farrell, or as he has recently demanded all people address him – #casinobaz. O’Farrell of course, resigned from his post in disgrace after being caught up receiving a bottle of wine from Obied family friend, Nick Di Girolamo. But not before being responsible for bringing in the lockout laws, casino law reform and a number of other achievements which benefited the entire state, not just a few individuals. Up until last year when he
resigned was pushed out of cabinet by Andrew Stoner, George Souris was the National Party Member for Upper Hunter. As well as managing all those portfolios, he was also responsible for the administration of NSW liquor laws. His resignation was a shame. If ever there was a person suited to managing Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and the Arts in Australia’s biggest city, it was a 65 year old man from Country NSW
In November 2013 NSW Labor, despite their overwhelming minority, were trying to win the Bored Mothers Society vote by pushing for draconian laws that punished a whole state. Their policy was known as Drink Smart, Home Safe and contained a number of pointless ideas about combatting a problem that didn’t really exist. Admittedly, the policy had one good idea which addressed an issue that was very much real, the state of public transport in NSW –
“Treat every Friday and Saturday night like a major event – more police, more transport. We will commit to introducing a late night train service from Kings Cross to Town Hall and Central Station to help move thousands of people out of the CBD quickly and safely. Labor will also investigate introducing late night trains on other lines.”
However the main aim of the policy was to implement 1am lockouts, 3am last drinks and restrictions on high alcohol content drinks such as shots, doubles and cocktails from 10pm. On Tuesday 19th November 2013 O’Farrell and Souris, quite rightly, ridiculed this suggestion in parliament. Calling it out for what it was; ill-conceived and unnecessary legislation.
Hear, hear Premier! Well done for putting such a ridiculous notion in its place using facts and evidence!
Well said by the man responsible for the administration of liquor laws. If anyone knew what they were dealing with here, it was him!
Even in January, after the tragic death of Daniel Christie at the hands of another perpetuator of piece of shit fuelled violence, Barry O’Farrell still understood reason and made these remarks on ABC Radio –
All this logic and reason being applied from our then Premier and his cabinet. Which makes what happened weeks later all the more disgraceful and hypocritical. Throughout January 2014 there was mass hysteria, driven by both main Sydney newspapers demanding “something must be done”. Rather than showing strong leadership and responding rationally to rabid cause jumpers, attention seekers and people who had no place in the discussion whatsoever, the Premier caved. Barry O’Farrell performed one of the most cowardly manoeuvres in NSW political history, only outdone by his shameful resignation mere months later. Rather than assume control of his state and show strength and confidence to his constituents, he pandered to lies, panic and emotional manipulation. A knee-jerk reaction was the result, by way of the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014 and Liquor Amendment Bill 2014.
The laws were discussed on Thursday January 30th 2014, after parliament was called to resume early, rudely interrupting the extended summer break that members enjoy each year. They were given the legislation that very morning. What follows are quotes from state ministers regarding the legislation and their reasons for supporting or opposing them. I’ve highlighted particularly interesting statements and thrown in my own $0.02 here and there. All quotes are taken from HANSARD. Please note, members below are listed with their title from the time quotes were taken.
So despite acknowledging the changes require far greater scrutiny, he was prepared to vote for them anyway. He also encouraged his entire party to do the same. It’s little wonder he is no longer the leader of NSW Labor. Also worth noting the credit paid to the Kelly Foundation for their lobbying…
Mr ANDREW STONER: Like the broader New South Wales community, this Government has had enough of the spate of drug- and alcohol-fuelled attacks on our streets and the increasing level of violence used in them. The Government had introduced a range of measures to tackle alcohol-related violence, particularly in the Kings Cross precinct, which had reduced on-premises incidents, but it was clear that voluntary industry initiatives were lacking or ineffective and that offences were continuing to occur on the street.
This goes against all the evidence and completely contradicts comments made by Barry O’Farrell and George Souris two months earlier.
Indeed, the people of NSW did deserve better notice of how this bill would affect them and their families. Especially those who it actually had a crushing impact on.
Mr GREG SMITH: I am pleased to support the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014.
The Government is responding to community concerns over alcohol-related violent incidents with a tough and comprehensive package of measures to make our streets safer.
Based on O’Farrell’s earlier comments, that was already happening. Violence was down. Why was a weak and thoughtless knee-jerk the response when strong, confident leadership was required?
The Attorney General has been on record on multiple occasions stating his opposition to mandatory sentencing. The AG claims it is an “expensive and ineffective crime fighting tool.” The AG claims mandatory sentencing “additional costs on the justice system and more trauma on victims and witnesses” Somebody should have reminded Greg smith he was in fact the Attorney General!
Mr ALEX GREENWICH: In response to community calls the Government has taken decisive action to address alcohol-fuelled violence and antisocial behaviour. I acknowledge this response to a serious community problem. However, I do not support this bill and remain deeply concerned that many of its proposals are reactive and will create new problems and impact on the community. I feel strongly for the friends and families of victims of violence associated with late night hotspots. They demand action to prevent more violence and much of the community has shared their distress and supported calls for action. It is our job to ensure that the response is the right one and that it is evidence based.
I have nothing to add. I just hope Alex was holding a microphone when he delivered these comments so he could drop it once he was done.
Mr GEORGE SOURIS: As Minister responsible for the administration of the liquor laws in New South Wales I am very pleased to support the introduction of the Liquor Amendment Bill 2014. The bill complements a number of other reforms the Government has introduced over the past three years to improve the safety and compliance standards of licensed venues and reduce levels of alcohol-related violence in the community
I also acknowledge the remarks made by key stakeholders and their support for the introduction of this legislation, including organisations such as the Australian Medical Association, Last Drinks Coalition, Police Association of NSW, St Vincent’s Hospital, Public Health Association of Australia, Australian Drug Foundation, Tourism and Transport Forum and Liquor Stores Association. I commend the bills to the House.
Mr Souris is on record ridiculing every aspect of the legislation. As for “key stake holders” acknowledged, I don’t see a single key stakeholder in there. All I see is a bunch of people who lobbied loudly enough for the shutting down of Sydney’s nightlife for their own benefit. Shame, Mr Souris. Shame, shame, shame.
Mr PAUL LYNCH: I did not see a copy of the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014 or the Liquor Amendment Bill 2014 until 9.52 a.m. I may have something more to say about the precise provisions of the bills when I have read them. Given that the Government has been forced to move an amendment to what is an abundantly clear provision in the legislation, it may well have helped if someone in the Government had read the legislation before 10.00 a.m. as well.
There is considerable evidence that mandatory sentencing is counter-productive and does not work. No evidence has been produced by the Government that mandatory sentencing will in any way reduce the incidence of alcohol-fuelled violence. Mandatory sentencing has been tried before in New South Wales and failed. A History of Criminal Law in New South Wales by Greg Woods details the nineteenth century attempt to introduce mandatory sentencing. It was such an abject disaster that it was hurriedly repealed.
This approach is also directly opposed to providing appropriate results in individual cases. It advocates a one-size-fits-all approach to justice, which simply cannot be just.
The Government has not produced one scintilla of evidence to show that there will be any deterrent effect from this legislation—that is not surprising because there is no such evidence.
The Opposition received a copy of the bill only at 10.00 a.m. Government members should have been reading it for weeks.
I feel I am constantly repeating myself here when it comes to opposition members. If you had not read it properly and/or did not actually support the legislation, why the hell did you vote for it?!??!
Ms LINDA BURNEY: In speaking to the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014 and the Liquor Amendment Bill 2014 I will not focus on their content because that has been well canvassed but I will make a number of other important points that some other members of the Labor Party have touched on. I agree with the Premier when he says that this is an incredibly complex area that is difficult to legislate. Whether or not anyone has said it, in this Chamber today we have a combination of politics and policy.
They have also made an important point about the changing nature of violence. The Minister for Tourism spoke about a reduction in the number of assaults. Of course, that is within venues and not outside venues. That underpins the need for cultural change and shows how the nature of assaults has changed, as the shadow Minister for Health outlined.
Again, why was it supported then? Despite you openly acknowledging assaults were mainly happening outside venues, why did you vote to punish the very venues that were doing the right thing???
Mr JAMIE PARKER: I welcome this debate and acknowledge the significant negative impact of alcohol and drugs in our community. I should mention that most of the attacks involving alcohol and violence occur in the home and are carried out by men who assault their female partners. However, the media and many members of Parliament have become focused on issues in the broader community.
Unfortunately I will not be able to support the bills for not the least reason that mandatory sentencing provisions are included. I know the bills will be passed because the Labor Party will not vote against them and the Government has a majority.
I turn now to address the alcohol measures the Government is proposing. Much has been made of the expanded central business district [CBD] zone, which at 3.00 a.m. will become an exit zone. That initiative concerns people in my electorate—a neighbouring central business district area—because of the displacement that will occur. Areas such as Surry Hills, Chippendale, Bondi Junction, Ultimo, Glebe and Balmain may well become displacement areas with even more problems than Kings Cross and the central business district.
Never thought I would be saying this, but a member of the Greens has proven to be one of the voices of reason. His remarks regarding the true incidents of alcohol related violence are spot on, as are his concerns regarding displacement. And just look at those statistics!
Mr BARRY O’FARRELL: in reply: I thank all members of the House who have participated in this debate for their contributions because it is an important debate.
I will touch on a couple of the contributions made, starting with the member for Lake Macquarie, and make the point that I strongly reject his suggestion or implication that this is somehow a summer media invention. The fact is that drug- and alcohol-fuelled violence has been an issue in this State some would argue since the days of the First Settlement.
The member for Balmain and the member for Sydney raised issues around displacement. I say again that the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research [BOCSAR] did a review of the situation in Newcastle and found no displacement. That is what its review said in 2009. I say again that the independent review by KPMG of reforms in the Melbourne central business district found exactly the same thing—there was no displacement.
The measures we have put forward are a comprehensive package. The measures we have put forward seek to ensure, as far as any Premier, Chief Minister or Prime Minister can ensure, that we get greater safety on the streets of Sydney and across New South Wales.
That is a direct example of where both education and penalties can have an impact on changing habits. That is before I get to the issue that the Minister for Health is particularly keen on, which is the success in this country, in this State, in relation to anti-smoking campaigns.
Where do you even begin? The sheer audacity to quote BOSCAR figures that suit this pathetic vote grab and ignore the ones quoted to ridicule the exact same concept two months ago!!!
As for the reference to anti-smoking campaigns, the anti-smoking lobby could be considered just as bad as Kelly & Co, and were yet another infringement of the rights of innocent Australian people. Just another thing #casinobaz should be utterly ashamed of. Mr O’Farrell, you are a weak, despicable coward.
Ms CARMEL TEBBUTT: I am pleased to speak in the take-note debate on alcohol-related violence and, given the speed with which the bills were passed this morning, to express my appreciation of the Government providing members with an opportunity to contribute to debate on this very important issue. I know that many members of this House who wished to make a contribution to debate on this matter were not able to do so this morning.
…Many Australians do not become offenders or victims of violent crimes…
I am firmly convinced that community culture and anger management have to be part of the solution to this issue. One wise constituent wrote to me recently saying:
For the most part I agree with the proposed change of harsher sentencing but especially community awareness campaigns since at heart this is a cultural issue with a small number of young men. Though it may be alcohol/drug fuelled it must be realised that the fire of aggression is already alight in these young boys.
I could not agree more.
Carmel makes some very fair calls in her address, which makes her vote in support of the laws all the more inexplicable.
Mr BRYAN DOYLE: It gives me great pleasure to contribute to the take-note debate on the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014
Will these legislative changes stop all the assaults? No-one can guarantee that, but it will reflect the community’s disapproval of these actions that result in serious consequences. The enactment of this legislation to protect our community will result in serious consequences. However, I am most disturbed and concerned that all these tragic assaults have occurred not only in conjunction with alcohol, drug and/or steroid use but also in the company of the friends of the offender, who, invariably, was most likely fortified in his excesses and brazenness by the comfort and presence of his mates. That is not the Australian way.
Another very fair call, this time from a member of the Liberal Party. Why wasn’t this point discussed or consideration when creating the legislation? Or were all members not privy to what would end up being proposed?
Mr RON HOENIG: People are entitled to go about their lawful business without being subjected to violent and unprovoked assaults
The Premier returned from leave and suddenly there was an announcement of a raft of actions—adopting much of what the Opposition had proposed. Mandatory sentence reforms came out of the blue, some two months after the Government had dismissed that as a non-solution.
There is no pressing reason for the Parliament to be involved. There is no pressing reason to proceed down a path that is contrary to the views and opinions of the Attorney General of this State and—up until he returned from leave—the Premier of this State.
AND THERE WE HAVE IT! Finally, late in the afternoon we finally have a reason for the support shown by the Opposition. They WANTED TO SEE IT FAIL.
If this is considered acceptable conduct or a valid reason for passing legislation then something is SERIOUSLY wrong with this state.
Mr MICHAEL DALEY: I contribute to this afternoon’s take-note debate on the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014 and the Liquor Amendment Bill 2014
I have more than grave concerns about mandatory sentencing. In this instance it is the manifestation of a Premier who has gone too far and who has hastily cobbled together policy by clamour rather than a well-considered response. Mandatory sentencing should be an absolute last resort. I particularly condemn the comments that the Premier made when he told the judiciary to man up. If he had manned up earlier we would not be in a position where these bills were brought to the Parliament in haste
Where the issue is not new they expect their government and its leader to have spent time, whether it be years or months, formulating a well-considered, evidence-based response.
Well, as we just found out the Labor agenda there is no point questioning Mr Daley’s motives here. Suffice to say it’s just another example of the farcical nature of the entire implementation of these unjust laws.
Mr MIKE BAIRD: I support the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014 and the Liquor Amendment Bill 2014 that have been introduced today and, importantly, the Government’s decision to take a stand against alcohol-fuelled violence.
In 2010 I was proud to support the Manly Safety Committee in launching a petition backed by Manly Mayor Jean Hay.
I pay tribute to the licensees, in particular Arthur Laundy, Tim Peterson, Doug Booker and Goffie, who have not only played significant roles at their premises but shown leadership across the precinct by saying, “We can make Manly a safer place.” We acknowledge that they have taken steps to do that. The leadership shown by licensees has been significant.
The measures are a good start, but the key impact will be culture change.
This is a reasonably fair call from Mike Baird. The reason Manly has “worked” so to speak, is communication and cooperation between council and venues. Why on Earth, given the success of a program he oversaw, did he not push for this to be a key element of any new legislation that may have been considered? Why did he not immediately push for a better strategy less than three months later when he took office? And why is he not looking into something like this now???
Ms TANIA MIHAILUK: I speak today in the take-note debate on the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014 and the Liquor Amendment Bill 2014.
The Government has not committed to a greater police presence in the central business district nor the provision of extra late-night train services, which may result in people roaming the streets in an intoxicated state.
Front-line police officers are also more readily exposed to drunken violence and thus become the victims of drunken assaults. It is imperative that the Government consider measures to provide extra police patrols in the Sydney central business district on Friday and Saturday nights. The objective is to prevent any punches from being thrown in the first place. A visible presence of police officers with the capacity to enforce the new laws is a common sense way of achieving that.
Could not agree with this more, which makes the way Ms Mihailuk voted all the more disappointing.
Gareth Ward (Liberal) – Member for Kiama
Mr GARETH WARD: I support the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014
I will read one of the emails I have received onto the parliamentary record. Greg Cougle wrote:
As my local State Member I’d thought I’d run something by you to see if you would be interested in floating it in Parliament.
Some of the ideas presented on this topic thus far, whilst having merit, have some impact on the 99% of good people out enjoying themselves.
I’ve been around long enough to know that violent tendencies when under the influence of alcohol tend to surface early in life and whilst everyone is entitled to drink upon the age of 18, that should be a privilege not a right.
My suggestion: people who are convicted of violent behaviour, repeatedly barred from licensed premises, fail to leave them, or even on Police recommendations, be banned from being intoxicated or consuming alcohol in a public place or attending licensed premises. (These bans could be 1 year to 20 years for example).
In terms of policing, I would suggest this be run similar to AVOs, forcing people to think seriously about their actions and knowing the consequences in advance, should they choose to break their AVO.
I’d be interested to know your thoughts, prior to me throwing it at the local media for debate as an alternative.
A fantastic email from Greg received by Mr Ward. Perhaps this sagely advice should have been passed on before the day of the vote. Feedback from constituents can often be very useful and should normally be looked at before voting on controversial legislation.
Hang on a minute here, did Andrew Stoner not declare the measures implemented were NOT working just a few hours ago? Who should I believe? The stats, I’d say. Which you have quoted here. So in what way, shape or form do you think the new laws are even required, let alone a good idea? What an absolute shambles.
Mr ANDREW CORNWELL: I support the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014 and its cognate bill, and do so fully cognisant of the gravity of some of the proposed changes.
Newcastle has lockouts and 3.00 a.m. closures, which have pros and cons.
I support the Liquor Amendment Bill 2014 but I do so with a heavy heart.
Here we have a (then) member of the Liberal Party representing NEWCASTLE directly saying the Newcastle Solution was NOT considered successful solely because of the policy, despite what everybody not from Newcastle has touted. Mr Cornwell highlights the problems with that solution and identifies the only reason it “worked”. Yet this example was at the crux of the argument on why we should have these laws. No wonder Mr Cornwell turned Independent soon after.
Mr CHRIS PATTERSON: I speak in the take-note debate on the Liquor Amendment Bill 2014 and the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014.
Restrictions imposed by the bill include a 1.30 a.m. lockout, meaning no patrons will be admitted to an establishment after 1.30 a.m. These lockouts can and do work. In Camden we introduced 11.00 p.m. lockouts through the local liquor accord on the weekend of the Camden show. This was a handshake agreement between the police, hotels and the liquor accord. The reason it worked was that people knew that they had to be within a premise by 11.00 p.m., not walking up and down the streets when the show closed. The same mentality exists with 1.30 a.m. lockouts. People know that they need to be within licensed premises by that time or miss the opportunity. That will have a positive impact on clearing the streets and, if the streets are cleared, we will not have the congregation.
These lockouts do work.
So because a lockout worked on ONE WEEKEND in CAMDEN that’s enough to believe whole heartedly in the policy? Is it reasonable to compare Kings Cross and the CBD to a quiet, semi-rural village. A far more intelligent comparison would be with a little town called MELBOURNE. As for “no congregation = no violence” – What an insightful comment! How are these people in a position to represent the wider community?
Mr JONATHAN O’DEA: When two-thirds of people surveyed say that they feel unsafe in the city centre on a Saturday night and 94 per cent of those blame that on alcohol-related concerns then there is clearly a substantial problem in our community
I would like to know which survey he is referencing here. I’m a local resident who works in the precinct and I was never surveyed. Neither was anybody I know. It would be great if members could be held accountable for the rubbish that they announce to the world. Or at the very least, if this survey did exist, it would be nice to see the demographic canvassed to see if their opinion held any relevancy in this particular situation. Or whether or not they just rounded up the Bored Mothers Society for their $0.02.
So there we have it. After reading the comments made by our representatives on the day the laws were passed it’s obvious that they were not only ill-conceived, but also lacked genuine support. Just look at the man who brought them in. Our state members have betrayed us to further their own agendas. We all knew these laws were a joke, but we didn’t know they felt the same way. Now we do. So make your voice heard.
It’s not too late to save our once great city.