MONDAY AGENDA: Liquor bill crosses line of the law
LEGAL groups have warned the state government’s proposed tough new booze laws that give police the power to ban someone from a venue for up to six months will be open to abuse and are ‘‘punitive and controlling’’.
Parliament is expected to debate the amendments to the state’s liquor licensing laws this month, which aim to crack down on irresponsible drink specials and harm caused by alcohol.
One section allows Tasmania Police to ban a troublemaker from a venue for up to six months.
Tasmania Law Reform Institute director Terese Henning said the grounds on which the order could be made were ‘‘broad and vague’’.
‘‘A person could be banned from a very wide range of premises and a very wide area for up to six months entirely at the discretion of Tasmania Police without ever having been charged with an offence,’’ Ms Henning said.
‘‘Their thrust and effect is punitive and controlling.
‘‘Such orders are open to abuse and to discriminatory application,’’ she said.
The barring orders are only reviewable by Police Commissioner Darren Hine, and Ms Henning said they were not subject to judicial oversight.
‘‘Yet they look, in all but name, like trial, conviction and penalisation, but without a court being anywhere in sight,’’ she said.
Australian Lawyers Alliance state president Henry Pill said the laws would enable police to bar a person from a huge range of venues ‘‘for any reason they liked’’.
‘‘Huge powers with no oversight create the potential for abuse,’’ Mr Pill said.
‘‘The bill increases police powers without increasing access to justice accordingly,’’ he said.
Treasurer Peter Gutwein’s draft second reading speech on the legislation said bad behaviour by patrons consumed staff and police resources.
‘‘The government is aware of the trouble a person who is refused entry or who is asked to leave a licensed premises may cause for patrons and staff of the premises,’’ the speech said.
Mr Gutwein said the details of the barring process would be developed and prescribed in regulations following consultation with Tasmania Police and industry.