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Law and order front and centre in WA campaign -

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KERRY O'BRIEN: In Western Australia, where the State Labor Government is struggling to hold office
in next week's election, the Liberal Leader, Colin Barnett, is seeking to distinguish himself by
announcing some startling proposals designed to capture a slumbering electorate. Two weeks ago, Mr
Barnett said he would rescue a water starved Perth by building a canal nearly 4,000 kilometres from
the Kimberley, no matter what. His latest headline announcement calls for the use of a water cannon
on Perth streets to quell what he calls out-of-control youth. Law and order has long been a
dominant theme of WA elections, but, as Mick O'Donnell reports, this campaign raises the law and
order auction to a whole new level.

MICK O'DONNELL: A series of riots at suburban parties over recent years. Hundreds of drunken men
confronting police in beachside Perth. These are the scenes which have turned the WA election
campaign into a law and order battle.

COLIN BARNETT (WA OPPOSITION LEADER): A no escape situation. Sorry to those young hoodlums, I am on
the side of the police. I am going to make sure that the commanding officer has the ability to come
in with a water cannon and disperse those people. Bad luck.

MICK O'DONNELL: First it was Colin's canal. Now it's Colin's water cannon. Liberal Leader Colin
Barnett has promised WA police a $300,000 mobile water cannon to quell major street violence, once
again outflanking his opponent Premier Geoff Gallop.

DR GEOFF GALLOP (WA PREMIER): Well, that's going backwards. That's not what the police
commissioner's indicated to us. We want to go forward. We want to look at new technology, new ways
of tackling crime.

MICK O'DONNELL: But Colin Barnett is painting himself as a can do man, making big, bold
announcements that will see him crash or crash through to the premiership.

PROFESSOR GREG CRAVEN (CURTIN UNIVERSITY): Colin Barnett's betting everything on giving an
impression of decisive action, and so far things like the canal and the water cannon have gone a
long way towards delivering that impression.

MICK O'DONNELL: This is a state where the Premier, Dr Geoff Gallop, an academic and intellectual,
is happy to be filmed with stun guns to convince the voters he's tough on crime. Promising 40 Taser
stun guns for police, he attacked the Barnett water cannon.

DR GEOFF GALLOP: That is a backward step and, you know, our view is, announcements like today, the
Taser guns, giving the police the resources they need to deal with new technology, that's the way

MICK O'DONNELL: This is a state where the Police Minister, Michelle Roberts, packs a pistol to
announce gun buy-back measures, where the Attorney-General, Jim McGinty, jumps on a Harley to
announce new laws to seize the proceeds of drug crime. Government and law specialist at Curtin
University Professor Greg Craven advised against such WA style measures when he was Crown solicitor
under Victoria's Kennett Government.

PROFESSOR GREG CRAVEN: The Government, for example, has a crimes confiscation regime which is an
object of horror throughout the legal community in Australia. It's regarded as ludicrously strong,
a regime in which virtually you can have almost anything confiscated in the vaguest connection with
criminal activity.

MICK O'DONNELL: All politicians in WA well remember the street demonstrations and talkback
campaigns from the early 90s. That led to the Labor Government of Carmen Lawrence introducing
mandatory sentencing laws.

PROFESSOR GREG CRAVEN: Western Australia has an enormous consumption for law and order policy. As a
state, we love law and order. The Labor Government has spent the last four years trying to put in a
very, very tough law and order campaign. Indeed, its law and order campaign has been tougher than
the law and order legislation of most conservative governments. But at the same time, I think that
the Coalition has come out determined to outflank them.

MICK O'DONNELL: During this term, Premier Geoff Gallop personally introduced a curfew for children
and teenagers on the streets of Northbridge, Perth's entertainment district.

PROFESSOR GREG CRAVEN: If you go and you talk to lawyers in Melbourne and Sydney about the curfew
in Northbridge, they frankly don't believe you. These are immensely tough measures on crime.

DR GEOFF GALLOP: When the crunch was on, where was Colin Barnett in the hoon laws? They modified
them in the Legislative Council, which watered them down. When the crunch was on where was Colin
Barnett with the parental responsibility orders? Opposed them.

COLIN BARNETT: We're not gonna cop it. Labor have been soft on crime. They have been soft on
anti-social behaviour. I will not be.

MICK O'DONNELL: Forced to up the ante on a Government even prepared to close an Aboriginal
community, Colin Barnett yesterday announced new anti-social behaviour orders, the toughest in

COLIN BARNETT: This will allow the police, local government and the courts to issue orders
restraining the behaviour and conduct of a small group of repeat offenders. For example, the
anti-social behaviour order would limit the ability of young people, designated young people, going
into a particular area. It would prevent them from doing certain types of behaviour. It would
prevent them from associating with other individuals.

MICK O'DONNELL: Such moves are likely to be popular in a community sensitised to images of street
crime. Knifings and shootings in the Northbridge district and riots in suburbs of Perth and country
towns have fuelled this fear over the last few years.

COLIN BARNETT: It is no longer acceptable that groups of young people can terrorise neighbourhoods
and it is happening right across this state.

MICK O'DONNELL: The Opposition Leader has announced tougher penalties for attacks on vulnerable
people like the elderly and kids. And after a series of gatecrashed party riots, the police union
has come out in guarded support of the water cannon idea.

MIKE DEAN (WA POLICE UNION): I know within the police service, the administration don't believe
they need a water cannon at this stage. However, the police officers on the beat and out there on
the front lines at these parties would like that support.

MICK O'DONNELL: While WA police headquarters famously was once rammed by a stolen armed personnel
carrier, the police service already has its own old Saracen APC, which has been trialled with a
water hose. The only Australian supplier of new water cannon is Tenix, the company which is also
pushing the Kimberley water canal. With just over a week to go to election day, there's no clear
sign that Colin Barnett's new tough guy image is working.

PROFESSOR GREG CRAVEN: They've typed Colin Barnett as this action figure, as a person with ideas
and determination. Whether that will bring the votes, we will not know until election night,
because we simply have no idea how these types of branding images are actually playing in the minds
of the electorate.

KERRY O'BRIEN: A week and a half to go. Mick O'Donnell with that report.