By Andrew Starke
NRL and AFL finals fever will come under scrutiny this weekend as new laws to crack down on intoxicated and disorderly conduct come into force from Saturday, October 1.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Minister for Police Mike Gallacher yesterday (Sep 27) announced the belated introduction of the legislation, which was one of the Premier’s election promises.
“The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government made the commitment to introduce an offence of intoxicated and disorderly conduct, we have now delivered it and it comes into force this weekend,” O’Farrell said.
“The NSW Government is committed to targeting alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour. It’s one of the biggest challenges and problems facing NSW Police and the community.
“People should have fun, but not at the expense of other people’s night out and that is why we have given the police the powers in the form of a new intoxicated and disorderly offence.”
In July, NSW Labor has accused O'Farrell of breaking a key election promise by failing to create a new ‘drunk and disorderly’ offence under the Summary Offences Act.
Shadow Attorney General Paul Lynch said the proposed Intoxicated and Disorderly Conduct Bill merely allowed police to fine people who don't obey a ‘move on’ direction after six hours.
”This is a tweak to the current law – failing to ‘move on’ is an offence that already exists,” he said.
”This represents a clear breach of the Premier's election promise.”
However, Gallacher said the recently strengthened move-on powers now apply to individuals rather than merely groups of three or more.
Under the new laws, if a person is given a move-on direction for intoxicated and disorderly conduct, they will be committing an offence if they resume or continue that disorderly conduct while intoxicated and within 6 hours of the original direction being given.
In most cases the offending individual will be given a criminal infringement notice of $200.
Gallacher said it will not be a crime to be drunk in public; however it will be a crime to be intoxicated and disorderly in a public place within six hours of receiving a police direction to move on.
“The intoxicated person must be acting in a way that is dangerous to themselves, to others or to property,” he said.
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the new powers were yet another mechanism for police to deal with those who show no consideration for others with their anti-social, disruptive behaviour.
Police Association of NSW president Scott Weber also welcomed the news but said more could be done to prevent people getting to such a drunken state in the first place.
“Every cop knows that on grand final day, on a long weekend, there is always an increase in alcohol-fuelled violence. Particularly around licensed venue ‘hotspots’,” he said.
“But while it’s good to see the State Government acting quickly on this issue, it’s a shame that this policy only looks to clean up the mess and not prevent it.”