Summary Offences (Liquor Offences) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

Ms CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (11:04): I rise to speak as the lead and possibly the only speaker on the Summary Offences (Liquor Offences) Amendment Bill 2017. I indicate that, whilst we will be supporting the bill, there are two areas of amendment that we consider need to be addressed to implement this reform. This bill was introduced on 27 September by the Attorney-General to amend a number of acts but essentially in respect of the legislation for the sale and supply of liquor in specific communities.

Much has been said about the operations that relate to the activities for the provision of alcohol in regional communities where there has been a restriction in respect of the supply and consumption of alcohol. Grog running is seen as an activity by others to obviously undertake the profitable enterprise of sale. The South Australian government currently has legislative restrictions to reduce the incidence of alcohol-related harm in these regional communities.

These restrictions are focused on Aboriginal communities predominantly, but they include conditions on high-risk liquor licences under the Liquor Licensing Act 1997, which limit the amount of specific liquors that can be purchased per person, per day and restrict the type of liquor sold completely for off-premise consumption. Secondly, they include specific communities being prohibited under the legislation from possessing and consuming liquor on the lands, with some exceptions. These communities include the APY lands, the Umoona community, near Coober Pedy, and Yalata Reserve.

It is noted that there are a number of other dry areas that have been prescribed for the purposes of having a prohibition. One of them is within Whyalla Norrie. A second is in the Port Augusta area. Adjacent to Port Augusta abounds public space that is under prohibition. Others are in Port Augusta West and the Ceduna and Thevenard areas, which provide for areas of prohibition. Essentially, the geographical parameters of these prescribed areas are identified. The nature of the prohibition is identified, usually in relation to the consumption of liquor being prohibited within the boundaries and, essentially, for the ones I have described, these are under continuous prohibition.

Metropolitan people have not been immune from experiencing dry zones or precincts. Some might recall that Victoria Square had been identified as an area of excessive consumption of alcohol and restrictions were put in place. Some, of course, would argue that all that does is transfer the problem, or the potential problems that arise out of people aggregating, consuming too much alcohol, getting into fights, causing disruption, being a public nuisance when someone goes to use an ATM facility and all those sorts of things, somewhere else when we introduce these prohibitions, but it is a process that is in operation.

Whilst there has been some concern expressed that this bill is almost anti-Aboriginal in its nature because of the prescribed areas in the APY lands, etc., it is a mechanism that has had the support of many in their own communities who want to prevent the destructive behaviour that emanates from the use of alcohol and drugs. In this case, it is in relation to liquor licensing, so we are really talking about alcohol consumption.

In an effort to reduce the incidence of alcohol-related harm, this bill is being introduced, firstly, to create an offence in the Summary Offences Act 1953 relating to the possession and transportation of liquor for the purpose of sale into the area designated by the minister. It is also broad enough to cover taxi drivers, who could, of course, be in the business of alcohol running.

The bill also gives power to the police to stop, search and detain vehicles within a designated area without any reasonable suspicion of a grog-running offence. Proposed regulations are essentially indicated to be prepared to provide for a 100-kilometre limit to the application of this power but, from our side of the house, that is not adequate. We consider that there needs to be some geographic restriction in the act and, accordingly, I indicate a foreshadowed amendment to deal with that.

Certainly, from our perspective we see a 100-kilometre radius as being excessive and unnecessary. If we are going to have one, then it ought to be within a five-kilometre radius, and I will speak to that in due course. It is fair to say that the Law Society, having considered the effect of these things, is also concerned about aspects of the bill. They, like others, suggest that it is not appropriate to have a lower standard than 'reasonable suspicion' targeting Aboriginal people.

We agree that at the very least we need very much to confine this so that it deals with the issue of the problem and is not really a backdoor attempt to have an expanded area of power that may be used for other purposes, but it ought to be very clear that we are targeting a specific problem—in this case, dealing with the people who deliver and provide alcohol to the prohibited areas. In short, we will be saying that the police power to stop, search and detain ought to be the same for every other area in relation to the Summary Offences Act.

The bill also allows the minister to prescribe an area of land where the consumption and possession of liquor is prohibited under the APY, ALT and Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act. The Law Society suggests that is discriminatory against Aboriginal communities. On this aspect, we do not agree with the Law Society to the extent that, yes, clearly this is targeted and there are times when that is for the benefit and protection of people living in those communities.

I have not consulted at length with a number of people in the communities specifically on this bill, but I can say that over the last 15 years there have been many occasions when I have consulted with particularly parents who are worried about their children's consumption of alcohol, loss of licences, getting into criminal activity and accessing drugs from marijuana to, in more recent years, ice and other drugs.

They recognise that the safety of their community, and particularly the women and children in it, is in high need when drugs or alcohol are available. They themselves have said, 'We need protection.' Whether that is to say, 'We need to be able to have our children go safely to school,' or, 'We want women and children in the household to be protected against domestic violence,' they are all aspects that can be exacerbated by the excessive consumption of alcohol.

Under the Liquor Licensing Act, there will be the creation of an offence for a licence holder to sell liquor to a person reasonably believed to be an unlicensed seller intending to sell liquor, which is then sold on by the seller. The maximum penalty is $20,000 for the first offence and $40,000 for subsequent offences. It will also create an offence under that act for a person in charge of premises to permit the unlicensed sale of liquor on those premises. They are proposed strategies which are, in fact, endorsed by the Law Society.

The amendments to the Criminal Investigation (Covert Operations) Act 2009 extend the meaning of 'serious criminal behaviour' to include the new offences listed that I have referred to as contravening the Liquor Licensing Act and new offences under the Summary Offences Act. That is a reasonable extension.

The Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007 allows for the forfeiture of a vehicle of those persons found guilty of a designated liquor offence as created in the new offences under the Summary Offences Act. When I was reading that part of the bill, it reminded me that there was recently a publication made, I think quite proudly, of an artist on the APY lands who had undertaken work to redecorate abandoned vehicles, turn them into dot paintings and light them up with candles and lighting to the extent of making them an art space, which I thought was an interesting, novel, recycling initiative.

It is fair to say that in relation to this type of reform the people who are doing the grog running need to be detained. Those who are receiving the product, with a view to onselling it to people in the communities, and the equipment they use, particularly vehicles, obviously all need to be targeted for the purposes of it being effective. So, in general principle, we support those measures.

As I have indicated, I will be foreshadowing amendments to bring the police search powers in line with procedures under sections 68 and 68A of the Summary Offences Act. That particularly is to ensure that the current proposed procedures do not solely target Aboriginal communities and, secondly, identify the prescribed area rather than identifying within 100 kilometres of an alcohol-free area, as proposed by the government. With those few words, I indicate that we will otherwise be supporting the passage of the bill.