Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (02 October 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (02 October 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 2 October 1990 The 2 km law has done a great deal of good. I believe that it has done much to improve relationships between many whites and Aboriginal people. It has certainly made our town much cleaner and safer, and that is a key point. Law-abiding citizens, no matter what their race, should not have to be subject to abuse, rubbish and soon. In the general public areas, therefore, there have been some positive aspects of the 2 km law. I have circulated some proposed amendments. I believe that, when a provision does not work, is costly to implement, does not enjoy the support of the police force and has become, in many ways, a bit of a joke, then that provision is no longer appropriate. I am referring, of course, to the $20 on-the-spot fine. The list of people who have been fined under this provision would be about 5 km long. Of course, 'on-the-spot fine' is a bit of a mi snomer. People are not actually fi ned on the spot. They are issued with a ticket saying that they have to pay $20 within a certain time or face the prospect of court action. Enforcing this provision takes up the time of our pol ice force. We know that, in these tight economic times, our police force is short of staff. We would 1 ike to have more pol ice but it seems that the funds are not available. Our police are spending time writing out these tickets. Attempting to catch people who default on fines can be very difficult because they are not always easy to locate. When a person is taken to court, if Aboriginal Legal Aid decides to mount a defence against the charge of not having paid the $20 fine on time, 2 police officers may be held up in court for anything up t04 hours , doing no useful pol icing work whatsoever. All this is for the sake of $20. My proposal is to get rid of the on-the-spot fines. I am told that even the police prosecutors are ignoring these cases because they feel that they are a waste of time. " The effective provision is the one which allows open alcohol containers to be emptied by police. In debate last week, I said that it has come to my attention that very little is being done to enforce this provision. Figures comparing 6-month periods from 1 July to 31 December in 1988 and 1989 indicate that the number of occasions when police enforced this provision dropped from about 800 to about 15. Peop 1 e are starting to abuse the 2 km law because they find that it is not being enforced. Tipping out liquor is effective. Although I understand the problem, I do not think that the government's proposal will solve it. People - and it does not matter what their race is - may be sitting down drinking from open cans, with 6 cartons of unopened cans on the ground beside them. The police are empowered to issue $20 on-the-spot .fi nes or to empty the, open cans. However, the police cannot sit around watching all day. They are working flat strap in Alice Springs. As soon as the police leave, there is nothing to stop the people from opening the other cans. That is the problem which the government is tryi ng to address. The government proposes to S,o 1 ve th is prob 1 em by all owi ng the police to impound the unopened 1 i quor cpnta i ners , i ssui ng recei pts and stori ng the a 1 coho 1 at the pol ice stat i on for a peri od before allowing people to claim it again. Incidentally, if the government intends to keep the $20 on-the-spot fine, it should require that amount to be paid before people can reclaim their liquor. I bel i eve that enough of the time of our po 1 ice force is wasted a 1 ready. The governmentshou 1 d bi te the bullet, as the Katheri ne commi ttee did, according to the minister in his second-reading speech. Where the police are satisfied that section 45D has been contravened, they should be able to empty all liquor containers, opened and unopened. That may sound harsh but there is ample opportunity to spread the message through the media 10 686