Bill: LIQUOR LICENSING (LIQUOR REVIEW) AMENDMENT Bill


Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 12:26 ): It is with some pleasure that I rise to talk about in particular the secondary supply of alcohol aspects of this bill. In terms of the remainder of the bill, I note and endorse the comments of the deputy leader in which she set out the opposition's position—mostly endorsing the bill with some amendments. 

In relation to secondary supply of alcohol to minors, I appreciate the passion brought by the member for Fisher; however, I note that if there had been such passion and interest on the part of any other member of the government over the last seven years, then secondary supply of alcohol legislation would have been supported in 2011 when I brought it to this parliament six years ago, and when I subsequently presented it two further times. The minister for health at the time, John Hill of the Labor Party, was scathing in his appraisal of the suggestion, making passive-aggressive comments about whether I should be polling my electorate. 

This is an issue that was brought to me by constituents. The impact of excessive alcohol use by teenagers is an issue that I had observed in my own personal life prior to that. Not all of them are going to receive damage, but many of them do. Extraordinary damage can be wrought on young lives by the use of alcohol prior to the development of the brain of a teenager. There is the increased likelihood of susceptibility to alcoholism as a chronic condition, the increased danger of falling prey to brain damage, anxiety and depression, and the injuries that can come from alcohol use at a young age are disproportionately excessive in minors. 

The culture of drinking in our community needs to be addressed. Secondary supply of alcohol laws are not a golden bullet. They are not going to fix the problem just like that, but they are a key ingredient in the remedy that has been missing from South Australia and that every other state has now pursued. Even Western Australia in the last few years has pursued it. When I introduced this legislation in 2011, it was South Australia and Western Australia; now it is just South Australia. 

I am glad that the member for Playford agreed—I think on our third go—and while the government was not going to support the bill in 2014, they referred it to a committee for consideration. The Attorney-General subsequently included secondary supply of alcohol measures in the terms of reference for the Anderson review, for which I am also grateful on behalf of the community, who have been very concerned about this. There have been thousands of signatures on petitions presented to this parliament and hundreds of emails from parents across South Australia and from members of school councils. 

The secondary supply of alcohol law measures are critical because they give parents that opportunity to say no to their child when their child goes to them saying, 'Look, I need to take some alcohol to this party; everyone else is doing it.' When this legislation is passed, parents will now have the opportunity to say, 'No, I am not going to give you a sixpack of UDLs. I am not going to give you a sixpack of beer because it is against the law.' Under the proposals which I brought to the parliament six years ago, and which the member for Heysen and subsequently the member for Dunstan, as leaders of the opposition, took to the election, parents had the opportunity to introduce alcohol to their children in their own time and in a way that was suitable for their families. 

But the question must be asked—and it is the question I have been asking for six years and I am pleased that the government has finally come on board to understand this—why should any adult be able to give alcohol to a child without even the knowledge or the permission of their parents? This legislation resolves that question in the statement: they should not be able to. Parents must be able to have the opportunity to identify this. 

Of course, there are complexities with the policing and management of this but, as a statement of principle, we have laws far harder to police on the statute book and I am pleased that the government has finally come on board—six years late—with this recommendation. We understand how the teenage brain works more than we ever have before. 

I want to particularly identify some thanks to people who have worked very hard for this legislation and who have brought it to fore for the public. When I first presented this, my scientific support was particularly based on the work by Professor Ian Hickie, Australian Medical Research Fellow of the Brain and Mind Research Institute of the University of Sydney. 

I remember that a number of members of parliament—the member for Ashford, the Deputy Leader and the Hon. Tammy Franks—came to a session I ran in this house prior to the second time that we presented the bill. It was supported by Professor Paul Dillon, by the head of Pembroke School and by Professor Michael Baigent of Flinders University, who were able to present on this. Hundreds of members of the community collected signatures on petitions and spoke to their school councils and spoke to members of parliament. 

This is not a golden bullet, but it will help to change the drinking culture. It will help parents who want to have some level of opportunity to introduce alcohol to their children in their time and at a time that is appropriate for their families, because we know that every year that the introduction of alcohol can be delayed reduces the risk of some of those extraordinarily bad consequences I spoke of earlier. With the amendments that the opposition is proposing on other aspects of the bill, I lend my support to the bill.