Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Liquor Licensing (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: When I am older. Can I be a big girl and do my job please? Thank you. I rise today to speak on this bill for many reasons, not least of which being the fact that it is something which, as many members in this chamber have already pointed out, concerns many young people. Though I would not dare to state that I speak for all young people, I think we have already established that I happen to be one of them.
This is a bill which will directly affect my friends, both those who work in the hospitality industry and those who like to go out and dance until the early hours of the morning in clubs. It will even affect my friends who might just like to have a drink at 4.30am after they finish playing with their band or acting in a play, for instance, or doing some other activity which is not offensively debauched but happens to take place in the early hours of the morning. Not all young people want to get outrageously drunk until 5am, stagger down the street and wake up in the gutter—although there can be little denying that this does occasionally happen. Most young people—and hey, even some of you older people—like to socialise, they like to meet new people, and they like to share experiences with others.
At its most basic, this is where the night-life in Adelaide comes from. A venue is not necessarily about alcohol: it is about the richness of the overall setting. If you look at a place like the Fringe Club, for example, which pops up only when that festival is on, you can see an example of such an experience. In a place like the Fringe Club you can go and mix with a wonderful crowd of people; many local, many from interstate, many from overseas, and many who have some kind of amazing talent or interest which is fascinating to hear about. Mix that kind of conversation with a couple of decent beers and the occasional possum visiting from the Parklands and you get an experience I would be happy to have well into the early hours of the morning.
This legislation circumvents that understanding of clubs and bars. It instead relegates them to being simple alcohol factories, which pump out drunk young people who then create problems for our police department. The concept of this legislation is very narrow, as it assumes that if you close the alcohol factories you will solve the violence problems. I do not believe this to be true. Instead of this kind of simplistic thinking, what we need from our government is more lateral solutions to the alcohol and violence problem. We need the government to recognise the need for social interaction and provide a legislative framework which allows young people to have a good time in a safe way.
One of my staff members helps run an art gallery which is located in a lane just off Hindley Street. The art gallery only serves alcohol about once a month, at openings, and only for about three hours at a time. As a space which supports emerging artists, most of the crowd is young people, but none of these young people are there to get drunk. They are there to support a friend or to absorb some culture—they just happen to do it with a glass of wine in their hand. Despite the entirely innocuous nature of this art gallery and its activities, it has had a lot of trouble getting a permanent liquor licence and is instead forced to apply for a series of temporary licences, a process which wastes the time of the gallery staff and the liquor licensing department.
Imagine if our government could recognise the social value and safety value of places like this gallery in this legislation. Imagine if our government had the willpower to encourage enterprises like this, which are safe and entertaining, instead of just handing down a block ban on a whole range of places. Imagine if the government wanted to consider encouraging alternatives for young people to have a safe night out, instead of just shutting them out of establishments for a few hours.
If that were the case, then I could say that we have a government which truly cares for its young people and which is putting effort into creating a safe but vibrant lifestyle for them. Unfortunately, this is evidently not the case. I appreciate the effort the Hon. Gail Gago has put into her amendments, which give a little leeway for some establishments to be open between the hours of 4am and 7am. This, at least, will hopefully mean that there are a few places young people can go safely to socialise in these hours, but I do not appreciate the basis of this legislation.
I do not appreciate the assumptions it makes about young people and I do not believe that it will make our streets safer. There are other ways, and I hope that the government will consider other approaches in the future. I will support the second reading of this bill, because it will give us the opportunity to explore further how this issue is being addressed, but my support is likely to be very temporary.