Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995
Parliamentary Record 10
Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 whom total abstinence is the only possibility. I do not believe that that is a schizophrenic approach because I think it is quite appropriate that governments support both approaches to addressing problems of alcohol abuse. It is for those reasons that I have supported the Tyewetyerre Social Club in Alice Springs by saying that it has to be given a go whilst, at the same time, supporting the total abstinence programs with CAAAPU. The reason for this is that I think that, in a process of rapid social change, both those approaches will have validity for different people. I ask for that to be taken on board in the governments approach through its Living With Alcohol program and through the departments other alcohol programs. Turning to the specific initiative that the government has announced today, the opposition is not prepared to accept a pig in a poke, which is really what the government is asking the police and the community to do in respect of this proposal. What consultation has the minister undertaken? Has he spoken to the police and to the Police Association about this proposal to take over what is currently a police responsibility? Has he spoken with community groups, such as the night patrols, and put it to them? Has he spoken with Aboriginal community leaders? At page 19 of his statement, he mentioned that he had met with the mayors and town clerks of each council to outline the proposal and seek their support in developing this program. Which of the community councils has the minister consulted in the outlying areas that he seems to perceive as being problems in this regard? I have some concerns also about the new powers that are to be acquired here. What powers does the minister intend to give the new law-and-order enforcement officers? Does he intend to give them the power of arrest and detention? What happens if they are challenged by drunks and a fracas ensues? What powers will they have to handle such a situation? Will they be directly under the authority of the Police Administration Act? Indeed, what will their legal status be? What happens if, in the course of their duties, someone is killed? There is no explanation of these types of issues. What linkages will these officers have with the police? Will they be linked into police communications? Will they be responsible to the police in their local areas or will they be responsible to the councils? What training will they be given to handle situations that they may confront? The minister tells us that there are to be only 7 of these officers. The government is proposing a relatively small number. Will this be adequate to deal with the problem? What shifts will they be expected to work? What will happen when they take leave? What pay will they receive? It comes to the question that this is a policing issue. Thus, why arent more police being employed to do this job? The opposition believes that, without the above detail, the government can have only one purpose in mind and that is to employ police on the cheap. Every law that the new enforcement officers are expected to enforce would appear to be enforceable already by the police. Nothing that the new enforcement officers will be asked to do cannot be done by the police with their existing powers. The police are highly-trained, highly-skilled officers who have a complete understanding of the way to intervene in relation to this behaviour. The only reason they are not intervening already in situations involving this sort of unacceptable behaviour is that they do not have enough staff to do so. That demands the question: why not employ more police? The McAulay/Bowe report identified clearly that the police numbers are far too low. It said that there was a gross under-reporting of crimes such as wilful damage because the public did not believe the police would be able to do anything about them. The McAulay/Bowe 3223
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