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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 10055


Mr LAMING (Bowman) (21:05): Madam Speaker, Australia has a fine tradition of enjoying a night out. Being able to go and celebrate with friends is something that our ambient temperature allows us to do all over the country, every month, every night—at least weekend nights—of the year. But we have been assailed by images on television of crime, drug abuse and other antisocial behaviours associated with going out at night. It should be a safe thing to do. No parent deserves to have their child come home in a body bag. No family should lose one of their own simply because of completely out-of-control, alcohol-fuelled violence. That is amplified by illicit drugs and now, more recently, anabolic steroids. In Queensland, I commend the Safe Night Out Strategy, which is the result of probably some of the widest social policy consultation that I have seen from a state government. The precursor for this work is the crackdown on organised crime that we have seen in Queensland, which is paying dividends already with a percentage reduction in crime that is significant in parts of South-East Queensland, Logan and the Gold Coast—where property crime fell by around 11 per cent. I can see that this is part of a long-term trend, but it is a trend in the right direction, and it is a reward for the Newman government, who went where previous state governments were reluctant to go before.

Of course, some of the initiatives in this very complex Safe Night Out Strategy represent what is a multifactorial response to a complex area. It is hard to impinge on the rights of an individual having a drink until there is a very sudden switch and they become a danger to themselves or others. Of course, this issue is complicated by much of this happening in private licenced premises where it is very hard to have constant surveillance available.

I want to make a few points in the limited time available. The first is that we have technology and in these drink safe areas we can link up all of the ID and driver's licence scanning facilities that are available. We need to know everyone who is going in and out of these licensed premises. The second point is that we do not need the superficial Labor response that the solution here is either to curtail the hours of licensed premises or to push out services because the more services that are pushed out the better things will be. Ultimately, it comes back to individual responsibility, hazed as it is by the effects of alcohol. In the end, individuals must be responsible for their actions. If an individual is engaging in antisocial behaviour, failing to move on, failing to follow a police directive—we are not even talking about violent conduct—then there must be swift, painful and immediate consequences for that behaviour. We need to empower the people working on the doors of these premises to be able to sign a statutory declaration and identify that person to make sure that they are dealt with properly.

Let's go back a step. Why are taxpayers having their money spent on irresponsible and antisocial behaviour? Why is it that we are funding penalty rates for hundreds of people working late at night simply to control alcohol fuelled abuse? That is not good enough. People who contravene these basic social norms need to be paying their way. It is curious to me that, when someone is taken through a court of law and receives a financial penalty, a person who has a job can be garnisheed, but a person who is receiving welfare cannot. So a person who is on a public payment can avoid that and simply have the charges transferred to SPER or the equivalent state debt collection agency, and they can even go to jail in lieu of that penalty, but a person who is earning a private salary can be garnisheed. That is not right; that is not fair.

We need to connect the federal government by recognising state entities, including public housing, under the Social Security Act. It is time that you pay your rent whether it is for public or private housing. It is time that if you take up public housing you agree to a mandatory deduction from your income just as occurs for someone receiving a private income.

Now in Queensland we will see police empowered to move people on, empowered to ban someone for their own good for 24 hours from these precincts or to ban them for a longer period of time. There will be mandatory community service for those who act in an inappropriate and antisocial manner, but it should be way more than the maximum currently allowed in Queensland, a mere 240 hours. Speaker, that is five weeks. What we need is six months of community service for many people who have not had the benefit of parental and social support to give them a chance in life. Let us look after these people, engage them and get them back into work. The surest way to avoid alcohol abuse is to start with a full day's work and a week of work.

The SPEAKER: I would remind members that the correct mode of address to the Speaker is Madam Speaker.