Cronulla Electorate Under-Age Drinking
CRONULLA ELECTORATE UNDER-AGE DRINKING
Mr KERR (Cronulla) [5.16 p.m.]: A number of social problems exist in the Cronulla electorate. First, I refer to antisocial behaviour and under-age drinking prior to football matches at the home ground of the Cronulla-Sutherland team. I am pleased that as a result of meetings between the council, police, members of the club and the State Rail Authority many of the problems associated with poor behaviour at the matches have been canvassed. The club brought forward the commencement time of the game to 6.00 p.m. on Saturday night, which resulted in considerable improvement in the antisocial activity. The club security staff were able to prevent alcohol being smuggled into the ground and under-aged drinking was thus prevented. Significantly more families attended the match, and the crowd comprised more than 17,000 people. I wish the Cronulla team, and its captain, Andrew Ettingshausen, the best for the grand final. Next season, if there are night matches, I will work with the club, the residents, the council and Cyprian Fernandez to minimise the dislocation that can occur.
The other behaviour to which I refer involves the degree of under-age drinking and alcohol abuse that occurs in the Cronulla area. I pay tribute to the patrol commander, Superintendent Karpik, a police officer who was very much involved in preventing alcohol abuse. I also thank Brian Breakspear. I hope that in the lead-up to the next season it will be possible for football players to attend local schools and youth clubs as role models. There is a need for community-based projects, with parents, police and social workers involved. This problem is not just one for the individual, but for the community as a whole.
I was a chairman of the ministerial advisory council on the liquor industry. During that period a number of reforms were instituted in relation to responsible drinking and under-age drinking, such as the introduction of proof-of-age cards. The Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development has shown a keen interest in ensuring that the reform process continues. If we are to have an orderly and civilised society, the rights of all citizens must be observed. Drunkenness leads to irresponsible behaviour. Youth suicide is another issue affecting my electorate. In the Sutherland shire there have been a number of meetings of the Rose Foundation. I am pleased that the St George & Sutherland Shire Leader has seen fit to publicise its meetings. Youth suicide is a tragic and growing problem in my electorate.
We must ensure, first of all, that young people have somewhere to turn for help and assistance, and know where to turn for that assistance. A human life is of infinite value. The work of the Rose Foundation has saved many lives, and that is something we should all be proud of. This is a community problem and it can only be solved by reaching out to the community so that young people know where to go for help; and so that parents are able to recognise the signs of a potential suicide and ensure they are in a position to also reach out for help.
Mr FACE (Charlestown - Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development) [5.21 p.m.]: The honourable member for Cronulla has expressed a great deal of concern about the problems of under-age drinking and how they might be overcome. Although the problem is spread throughout the State, in seaside suburbs the tendency for young people to get out in public places and consume liquor seems to be more prolific - I do not know why, and I have no hard evidence as to the reason. I share the honourable member’s concerns about what happens at major functions. In recent times officers of the Department of Gaming and Racing have been visiting major venues, mainly racecourses, as a consequence of a misunderstanding on the part of some people that they can go to such places and act
in an antisocial way, a way they cannot behave in a hotel, club or restaurant.
Football matches are no exception and, in fact, my officers, together with officers from the Police Service, have been examining issues related to the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Sydney Football Stadium as a result of unacceptable practices that have emerged over a period of time. We are seriously concerned about those who serve liquor, as well as those persons who want to consume liquor when they are intoxicated. We are concerned that they are not taking on board the harm minimisation tenets of the legislation passed by the New South Wales Parliament and the "No more it’s the law" campaign. So far as I am concerned, antisocial behaviour resulting from excessive consumption of alcohol is not acceptable in any circumstances. The reforms I have put in place in relation to harm minimisation and, more importantly, the enforcement package, have been reinforced by the fact that a particular country hotel went out of business for 72 hours recently. That resulted from a period of six months of problems which reached the stage that ambulance officers would not visit the premises. I give the honourable member an assurance that officers of my department will talk to him about the possibility of undertaking similar exercises in the electorate of Cronulla next year.