Liquor Licensing Laws - Verbal Question

(Parliament House)

Ms CLOVER MOORE: Madam Speaker—

The SPEAKER: Order! Members will come to order and listen to the question of the member for Sydney in silence.

Ms CLOVER MOORE: My question is directed to the Premier. Will the Government extend the current freeze on liquor licences in saturated inner-city hot spots for an additional two years so that long-term solutions to antisocial problems linked with liquor outlet density can be found to ensure a safe, economically sustainable, world-class night-time economy?

Dr Andrew McDonald: Good question.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: I thank the member for Sydney for her question. I am fascinated by all the interjections of "Good question", because the former Labor Government had 16 years to fix problems with the night-time economy in the inner city and in areas like Coogee, Manly and the shire, and what did it do? Absolutely nothing.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Maroubra will come to order.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: The former Minister for Police, in particular, did absolutely nothing.

[Interruption]

I would not be so modest.

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Maroubra to order for the third time.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: I remember the member for Maroubra saying that crime had fallen in 17 out of 17 categories, and I remember the member for Heffron saying it repeatedly. I remember visiting "Roos" or Rouse Hill and all those places the Leader of the Opposition has no idea how to find. Everywhere I went regardless of whether I spoke to small business operators, family members or senior citizens, they all said, "Where are the police? We are concerned about crime. We have been robbed. We are in fear of violence", or they said they feared the sorts of incidents that, regrettably, we have seen at our railway stations on the past two nights. It is simply a nonsense to hide behind figures.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Cessnock will come to order.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: I understand the issues that affect licensing in the central business district and around the inner city. As the Lord Mayor, the member for Sydney would know that New South Wales liquor laws have imposed a freeze on the granting of some types of liquor licences. The freeze has been in force since June 2009 and it is due to expire in 2011. The member for Sydney, the Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitability and Racing, and Minister for the Arts and I will be meeting on 22 June to discuss this matter. The Liberal Party and The Nationals were elected on a clear pledge to clean up drunken violence and antisocial behaviour. We have already passed through this place move-on powers that recognise that one drunk can cause just as much havoc as three under laws that the former Labor Government defended. We are determined to reinstitute the offence of drunk and disorderly, which includes drug-related offences under the Summary Offences Act. We are determined to trial sobering-up centres to give police as many options as possible. One of those sobering-up centres will be in either the theatre district or the King's Cross area, and we will also trial the centres in suburban and regional areas across Sydney.

[Interruption]

Leave Kogarah out of this—1998 was so long ago that in those days she was respecting police. We will continue, as the Minister for Transport has continued, to provide as many improvements as needed, because one of the issues we were elected on was improving Nightrider services. We know that at the Cross and elsewhere at night there are fights, disagreements and other antisocial behaviour around people who are trying to get home. I have been told on numerous occasions that the taxi rank at the Cross can be quite a violent place. We need to have a holistic approach; we need to ensure that all the agencies of government are working together. There is no silver bullet solution—the member for Sydney will share this view. As the father of a 17-year-old, I know that society now sees young people going out at a time when the member for Sydney and I were coming home in the days when we were having a good time.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Premier will come to order.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: I claim to have been misrepresented by myself.

Mr Michael Daley: Point of order: I rise to defend the member for Sydney against imputations of improper motives and substantial misrepresentation.

The SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order.

Mr BARRY O'FARRELL: I am sure that at some stage in her life even the member for Sydney has had a good time. I have seen her on New Year's Eve. I know that she holds a New Year's Eve function that observes the responsible service of alcohol, but even the member for Sydney can have a good time. But we do have a societal problem. People are pre-fuelling before they go out. People are finding bars and clubs too expensive so in many cases they are drinking takeaway alcohol at home before they go out. They are staying out longer and there is that small element who believe it is acceptable on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday night to go out, drink a skinful and then assault people. That is unacceptable and we will do all we can to stop it happening across the city.