Saturday, January 22, 2011

Socialists critise 'barring orders'

State government changes to the Liquor Control Act which came into effect this month have been criticised by the Socialist Alliance as an infringement of civil liberties.

In particular, the Alliance has spoken out against the decision to allow police the power to issue `barring orders’ which ban an individual from licensed premises without a criminal conviction.

``Giving police the power to issue barring orders to patrons of licensed premises is tantamount to dishing out punishment before a person has been found guilty,’’ said Alliance spokesperson Alex Bainbridge.

The changes have been justified with the argument that they will be targeted at people who are violent or disorderly on licensed premises and that existing prohibition orders can be too difficult to secure.

However, according to Bainbridge, ``violence and offensive behaviour is already illegal and publicans and police already have significant powers at their disposal to deal with these problems’’.

``As we've seen in other instances, there are dangers that Aboriginal people, young people and poor people could be unfairly and disproportionately targeted by police with these powers.’’

``Further, there is the danger that these police powers in licensed premises could become the 'thin edge of the wedge' if the state government decided to extend these powers to other situations.’’

[Written by Kamala Emanuel for Green Left Weekly.]