Liquor forums (29.10.13)

Written on the 29 October 2013

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is to the Minister for Liquor and Gaming Regulation, Mr O'Donohue, and I ask: can the minister inform the house about the important work local liquor forums are carrying out in the Victorian community?

Hon. E. J. O'DONOHUE (Minister for Liquor and Gaming Regulation) -- I thank Ms Crozier for her question. As a representative of Southern Metropolitan Region, I know she has a very strong interest in this area. Melbourne and indeed Victoria are known as great hubs for events and major activities, whether that be the Spring Racing Carnival, the AFL Grand Final, the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, or a range of other major events such as conferences and the like. However, it is not just these significant sporting events that make Victoria such a popular destination.

It is all the things that go with it -- our cultural attractions, the bars, the clubs, the hotels -- that not only make Victoria and Melbourne such a great place to visit and reside, but also they generate jobs and economic activity.

In addition to generating jobs and economic activity, I am pleased to report to the house the wonderful work pub and club owners across Victoria are carrying out in their communities to curtail antisocial behaviour. Venue operators are joining forces with police, with councils and with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) as part of Victoria's liquor forums and accords. Working together, members of the liquor forums are helping to minimise the harm that can arise from the misuse and abuse of alcohol throughout our great state.

Last week I was pleased to join Ms Crozier; the member for Prahran in the other place, Mr Newton-Brown; the mayor of Stonnington, Cr Matthew Koce; Ms Jane Brockington, CEO of the VCGLR; members of Victoria Police and, importantly, a range of bar and club licence owners at the Stonnington liquor forum. It was fantastic to see how venue operators are creating positive working relationships and developing practical responses to local issues. During their regular meetings liquor forums discuss security, safety and issues of common concern. At the Stonnington level I was pleased to receive feedback from venue operators regarding the government's decision to extend the freeze in the four inner city local government areas for a further two years. This is but one example of the government's commitment to reducing the incidence of alcohol-fuelled violence and antisocial behaviour across our communities.

In January this year the government released the report, Reducing the Alcohol and Drug Toll -- Victoria's Plan 2013-2017.

It was the first whole-of-government strategy to reduce the impact of alcohol misuse and drug abuse on the Victorian community. Liquor accords and forums play a very important role in delivering this plan. I have had the opportunity and the pleasure to meet with a range of representatives from forums and accords across Victoria, from Ballarat to Traralgon and elsewhere, and I have heard constructive and practical feedback on the ground from licence-holders.

To support local liquor forums the coalition government has also taken strong action to tackle public drunkenness. We have more than doubled the penalties for drunk and disorderly behaviour, and for failing to obey a direction to leave licensed premises. I am also pleased that in my portfolio of crime prevention we have funded CCTV camera projects, such as $250 000 in the city of Stonnington for a CCTV project along Chapel Street, which the Stonnington council has used to leverage additional investment.

I take this opportunity to commend all members of liquor forums for their collaboration and commitment to making their local communities safer places.

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