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the year in legislation (3): Criminal Law Amendment (Out-of-Control Gatherings) Bill 2012

14 January, 2013

Today our review of debate from 2012 turns to the Criminal Law Amendment (Out-of-Control Gatherings) Bill 2012; a Bill introduced late in the sitting year to combat, as suggested by the name, growing problems of gatherings becoming out-of-control, by creating offences for those responsible for organising the gathering. The Bill was vigorously discussed as the government pushed for it to be passed before the end of the year (and thus before the election); lengthy debates ensued about terms and scenarios, including the definition of ‘gathering’ and the number of people required for one, some of which can be found below.

The Bill was introduced to the Legislative Assembly on 25 September 2012 and then read for a second time. The Second Reading debate resumed on 16 October 2012:

16 October 2012

MR M.P. WHITELY (Bassendean) [5.25 pm]: […] I invite interjection from the minister at any time. With this legislation, we are saying that if someone is involved in the organisation of a party or a gathering and two people at that gathering perform any of the illegal acts listed in the legislation, the organiser has a potential criminal responsibility and under certain circumstances could be jailed for one to three years. I do not think that a gathering of 30 people, 50 people, 100 people or 200 people at which two people litter is an out-of-control party. That is not what we are talking about here, but under this legislation that is defined as an out-of-control party.

Mrs L.M. Harvey: No, it’s not.

Mr M.P. WHITELY: The bill reads at proposed section 75A —
(b) 2 or more persons associated with the gathering engage in conduct of any of the following kinds —

(xi) depositing litter or breaking glass or other material;
That is how the legislation reads. So, if there is a party and two people attending drop some litter at the front of the house as they are leaving, the organiser of the party is subject to potential criminal sanctions.

Mr P.T. Miles: Oh, rubbish!

Mr M.P. WHITELY: That is what the legislation states, member for Wanneroo. Rather than just saying “rubbish”—indeed we are talking about rubbish, because we are talking about two people dropping rubbish outside a party —

Mr P. Papalia interjected.

Mr M.P. WHITELY: Well spotted; the member is right: this is rubbish, because if two or more people drop rubbish outside a party, the party organiser could be subject to a criminal sanction, even if that person did not know it had happened. [pp. 6919-6920]

Mr M.P. WHITELY: […] We need to address the issue of out-of-control parties by having greater police resources and helping the police use their existing powers. As I said, this legislation will probably not cause any harm because no-one will use it. It will be just another law that we have made that will sit on the statute book. The minister is from the Liberal Party, which is the party that is supposed to fundamentally believe in small government, yet it makes silly laws such as this that add nothing. We should take a systematic look at which existing laws we could repeal. I suggest that if a future Parliament does that, it will repeal this legislation.

Ms R. Saffioti: There will be a special repeal day.

Mr M.P. WHITELY: Yes; that was along with the Red Tape Reduction Group. The minister was on that committee. It was a committee to look at how many committees were redundant! [p. 6922]

Mr D.A. TEMPLEMAN: […] The key question is: what do we do about this modern phenomenon? Of course, some people on my side of the house think that I am very right wing in some of my views because I have always said that one of my concerns is that we are going into this environment in which we celebrate everything—we sort of think that there has to be a celebration for learning how to blow our noses; people get a certificate for it now! Indeed, some parents think that it is a right of a child to have their fifteenth birthday celebrated, their sixteenth birthday celebrated, then their milestone birthday of 18 and then their milestone birthday of 21 and so on. Then, of course, some of them wonder why their kids grow up so quickly, or argue that it is terrible that their children are growing up so quickly. [p. 6925]

Dr A.D. BUTI: […] It seems incredibly unfair that a political party can be exempted from this legislation. A group of young Labor people, a group of young Liberals or even a group of young Nationals, Trotskyites or Neo-Nazis who come together for a political purpose would be exempted from this legislation. The minister should tell my electors or her electors in Scarborough that she thinks that is fair and see if they think it is fair for a group of Neo-Nazis to be exempted from this legislation.

Mr B.J. Grylls: You’ll have to tell them it’s fair because you’re voting for it. If you don’t think it’s fair, don’t vote for it.

Mr C.J. Barnett: Cross the floor. Stand on principles. You have none.

The ACTING SPEAKER: Premier, I call you to order for the first time. Leader of the National Party, if you want to say something, you have an opportunity to speak later.

Dr A.D. BUTI: The Premier talks about principles. His whole political life has been one backflip after another. He should not tell me about principles because we have a whole list of statements he has made over 20 years relating to things he has reneged on since he became Premier. He should not go on about principles to me.

Mr C.J. Barnett: Vote against the legislation if you don’t support it.

Dr A.D. BUTI: How many times has the Premier voted for legislation when he said that it was a defective piece of legislation? He voted for the disaggregation of Western Power and Synergy when he did not believe in it. The Premier should not talk to me about principles because he has none. He is one of the most unprincipled Premiers we have had. He should not go on about principles with me. He voted many times for legislation he has not agreed with.

Mr C.J. Barnett: Vote against it.

Dr A.D. BUTI: We will not vote against it.

Mr C.J. Barnett: What a wimp. What an absolute wimp.

Dr A.D. BUTI: I would be a wimp if I came into this house —

Point of Order

Ms M.M. QUIRK: I think the member can look after himself very well, but the term “wimp” is unparliamentary.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr P.B. Watson): It is not a point of order. Members, let us get back to the legislation. Member for Armadale, if you do not want interjections, do not bait people on the other side.

Debate Resumed

Dr A.D. BUTI: The Minister for Regional Development wants to be smart. There are people who are loose in government. There are many pieces of legislation that the Minister for Regional Development has not agreed with in government.

Mr B.J. Grylls: I have crossed the floor.

Dr A.D. BUTI: No, you have not. You have crossed once—on the trading hours. That is the only one. Don’t go on and think you’re a man of great principle —

Mr B.J. Grylls: Have you crossed the floor yet?

Dr A.D. BUTI: This is the man who wanted to govern with the Labor Party but was rolled by his colleagues. Why didn’t you stand by your principles and not join the government? We all know the Minister for Regional Development wanted to join forces with Alan Carpenter to form the next government, but he was opposed by his colleagues.

Several members interjected.

Point of Order

Mr J.M. FRANCIS: As entertaining as this is, I have to question what this has to do with out-of-control parties.

The ACTING SPEAKER: There is no point of order, but the member for Armadale will get back to the bill.

Debate Resumed

Mr C.J. Barnett: Stop threatening members of Parliament.

Dr A.D. BUTI: Premier, grow up! [pp. 6932-6933]

Mr A.J. WADDELL: […] Let us look at what is an out-of-control party. If I was to ask anyone in my community what an out-of-control party is, they would paint me a picture of 100 youths in the street throwing rocks, bricks and bottles—being completely out of control. Under proposed section 75A(1)(a) the first step is that there are more than a dozen people. Just about every party I have ever been to in my life that was worth going to had more than a dozen people! We have to give that one a tick as done. The first hurdle has been cleared. The second criterion is —

(b) 2 or more persons associated with the gathering engage in conduct of any of the following kinds—

(i) trespassing on a place …
(ii) behaving in a disorderly manner (as defined in section 74A(1));
(iii) unlawfully destroying or damaging property or threatening to do so;
(iv) assaulting or threatening to assault …

So far, I have not had a lot of complaints about these. For just about everything here, as we see by the fact it is already defined in the Criminal Code, law already exists for these offences. The list goes on —

(v) doing an obscene act or indecent act in a public place or in the sight of any person who is in a public place;

I am fairly certain there is already legislation on that. Again, this probably puts a cross against a couple of decent parties that I have been to. The list goes on —

(vi) emitting, or causing to be emitted, unreasonable noise …

Seriously, we are starting to fall into the line of every single party I have ever been to. Making loud noises is the nature of a party. The next proposed subparagraph states —

(vii) driving a motor vehicle so as to cause excessive noise or smoke in contravention of the Road Traffic Act …

That reminds me very much of the antihoon legislation. I will talk about how effective the government’s antihoon legislation is in a little while. The proposed subparagraphs continue —

(viii) unlawfully lighting fires or unlawfully using fireworks;
(ix) throwing any object or releasing any material or thing in a manner that is likely to endanger the life, health or safety of any person;

I would not want to toss a ball! I read on —

(x) causing an obstruction to traffic or to the movement of pedestrians;

This is the one that really hits me; again, at any decent party I have been to, there have usually been cars parked up and down the road, half of them on footpaths. So, bang, a person has just hit their second qualification merely because people parked on the footpath.

Subparagraph (xi) —
depositing litter or breaking glass or other material;

Well, we would not want a balloon to escape from our houses, because there is the litter. Contravening the Liquor Control Act or the Misuse of Drugs Act—fair enough. Being intoxicated by liquor or an intoxicant; have you guys been to a party?

Several members interjected.

Mr A.J. WADDELL: If there are more than 12 people, and two of them are intoxicated or out of control—my God, the Liberal Party must have the world’s most boring parties! So we have now qualified for the second point. Subparagraph (xiv) reads —
any other conduct prescribed by the regulations;
We will come back to that one as well!

Proposed section 75A(1)(c)—the third hurdle we have to get over for it to be a disorderly, out-of-control party—states —
the gathering, or the conduct of persons associated with the gathering (taken together), causes or is likely to cause —

(i) fear or alarm to any person who is not associated with the gathering …

Mr M.P. Whitely: “Why wasn’t I asked?”

Mr A.J. WADDELL: So that is presumably if there is a neighbour somewhere who is a little worried about the look of some of the guests, or is a little worried about how a car has been parked too close to their rosebushes.

Subparagraph (ii) reads —
a substantial interference with the lawful activities of any person …

So, “I’m sitting on my porch and I can’t hear the crickets because of the noise over there”; sorry, the person running that party has just qualified.

Subparagraph (iii) is —
a substantial interference with the peaceful passage through, or enjoyment of, a place by any person who has lawful access to that place;

So, enjoyment of a place; again, “You are cluttering my view of my street; you are making too much noise.” There are so many things under this particular clause that would qualify for the third hurdle. So let us make that perfectly clear: the Liberal Party of Western Australia believes that just about any party worth attending is an out-of-control gathering.
So what happens when we have an out-of-control gathering? Now we have a problem, because the responsible person—the person who organised the gathering—becomes responsible. They are guilty of an offence and are liable to imprisonment for 12 months and a fine of $12 000.

Mr M.P. Whitely: That is some hangover!

Mr A.J. WADDELL: “What are you in for, mate?” Answer; “I threw a good party.” Not an out-of-control party. [pp. 6934-6936]

Mr A.J. WADDELL: […] In the Criminal Law Amendment (Out-of-Control Gatherings) Bill, proposed section 75A(1)(b)(xiv) states that an out-of-control gathering can be “any other conduct prescribed by the regulations”—any other! What oversight will there be for that new regulation? Absolutely nothing! There will be nothing. The minister could, by way of regulation, define macramé as being an out-of-control activity. Trust me, at some point in time someone has to define something that we have not contemplated today as out of control; it could be laser tag, paintball—it could be anything. At a stroke of a pen, a minister will now get to add another thing to the list without this debate happening, behind closed doors, executive government on its own. Proposed section 75A(3)(d) excludes “a gathering of a kind prescribed by the regulations”. This is who is excluded; I grant you that it says —

[Member’s time extended.]

Mr A.J. WADDELL: We have already heard that political parties will, in fact, be excluded, which gives me a great idea, guys! I can say to anyone in Forrestfield, “If you want to have a party and you’re worried about the fact that the Liberal Party has criminalised your party, come on down to my office, I’ll sign you up as a sub-branch and you’re a political party, away you go, done and dusted.” It is a great way for us to improve our membership because the only protection people are going to have at law in Western Australia is if they are a member of a political party.

Mr M.P. Whitely: The “Party Party”!

Mr A.J. WADDELL: It is almost a singlehanded attempt by the Liberal Party to improve membership of political parties. But I can tell members opposite that I do not think people will join their party because they will be the “Party Pooper Party” people. [p. 6937]

Mr A.J. WADDELL: […] Everyone in my community had been telling me that they had been complaining; they had been—I do not know what has happened to my voice.

Point of Order

Mr M.P. WHITELY: I am just wondering whether there are any points of order relating to a member needing time to recover his voice while he is on his feet.

The ACTING SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

Mr M.P. WHITELY: Are you sure?

The ACTING SPEAKER: I am positive!

Debate Resumed

Mr A.J. WADDELL: I think it might be permanently gone, so the member might need to move dissent! Anyhow, I will not be long. [p. 6938]

Mr T.G. STEPHENS: […] Come Christmastime, whether it is the nuns ringing noisy bells at the Carmelite monastery or the people misbehaving at Cottesloe Beach, the government will have its bill, and then it will see whether it can attend to the issues. Whether it is the Greeks celebrating a wedding and smashing a bit of glass, there will be no exemption! The coppers can come in! We have a completely culturally insensitive bill.

Several members interjected.

Mr T.G. STEPHENS: Have members opposite not heard about the Greeks? Have they not been to a Greek wedding? Have they not looked at the bill? Do I have to spell it out to members opposite? Have any government members read the bill? Under subparagraph (xi) of proposed section 75A(1)(b), if someone at a party with more than 12 people breaks some glass —

Mr P.T. Miles: Vote against it!

Mr T.G. STEPHENS: Has the member read the bill?

Mr P.T. Miles: Yes, I have.

Mr T.G. STEPHENS: Does the member accept my point? Has he been to a Greek wedding? Brain dead! The lights are off. He is not going to listen. Members opposite will have every Greek wedding attendee in this state under arrest. They will have them all locked up for 12 months because they have been to a wedding and they have broken a bit of glass. That is what they do at Greek weddings, and under this bill they will be done; they will be off; they will be finished! Then, one of the nuns at the Dalkeith convent could ring the bells too late at midnight—there used to be 12 of them there, but I do not think there are 12 anymore, and that might be their only saving grace. If there are 12 of them, maybe they should form a political party, which would protect them because there is an exemption under the bill if they are a political party. [pp. 6953-6954]

The debate resumed the next day, before heading into the Consideration-in-Detail phase.

17 October 2012

Mr T.G. STEPHENS: […] Has the minister given consideration to some alternative titles? What were they and is she attracted to the short title the “riotous assemblies act” for instance?

Ms M.M. Quirk: The minister has not answered the question; she is treating the Parliament with contempt.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Girrawheen!

Ms M.M. Quirk interjected.

Mr M.P. WHITELY: I am happy to sit down if the minister stands up, but I do not think she intends to. I might add another alternative because I have a somewhat different take on this bill. If this bill indeed seeks to deal with riotous assembly, or even out-of-control gatherings, either of those two might be appropriate names. But if we read clause 4—I only do that, as the member for Cannington so eloquently and briefly pointed out, to explain the context of the title of the bill—some of the behaviours described as evidence of the out-of-control element of the gathering, including, as I pointed out before, depositing litter, which is probably the most obvious example, are not to me evidence of an out-of-control gathering. I wonder whether the minister gave any consideration to calling the bill the “Criminal Law Amendment (Potentially Mildly Annoying or Worse Informal Gathering) Act 2012”. I, frankly, thought that when we were going to deal with an out-of-control gatherings bill, we would be talking about the sort of riotous behaviour we saw with the parties that were out of control, spilling out into the streets, with people throwing bottles and assaulting police officers—things that are obviously illegal and can be dealt with under current law. But I thought we might find some sort of special circumstances that would help the police to deal with them. But, as is defined in section 4, we are talking about dealing with two or more persons associated with any gathering of 12 people engaging in such heinous acts as throwing cigarette butts and depositing litter! Given the bar is set very low in this bill, I am wondering whether the minister has given any thought to calling it the “Criminal Law (Potentially Mildly Annoying or Worse Informal Gathering) Act 2012”. I use the word “potentially” because later in the bill it indicates that people do not have to drop even two cigarette butts. The police could act to take action against the “organiser” of an informal gathering, which, as we heard earlier, could be two groups of six people walking past each other in the street and who invite the one they knew—the other five would be strangers—into the discussion. It could be a situation as minor as that. I think we need to give consideration to changing the name. Sorry; I got sidetracked. As I said, the word “potentially” is important because a person does not even have to commit out-of-control behaviour—in other words the dropping of two cigarette butts—the police need only suspect that could be about to happen. We need the word “potentially” in the title to say there could be potentially some mildly annoying behaviours, in the case of dropping cigarette butts, or worse, in the case of riotous behaviour. It could, in fact, be riotous behaviour, but we have to reflect how low the bar is set here because people reading this will be thinking of out-of-control gatherings. My plain English, ordinary, everyday understanding of that is a scene in which bottles are being thrown, violent acts are occurring, people are fighting, there is out-of-control street drinking and indecent acts are being performed in public. That is what I would consider to be out-of-control behaviour. I was going to finish within five minutes, but unfortunately I will not be able to do that.

Several members interjected.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, members for Jandakot and Warnbro!

Mr M.P. WHITELY: I was knocked off my train of thought by the member for Murray–Wellington. My suggestion was that “potentially or mildly annoying or worse informal gatherings” replace the words “out-of-control gatherings” in the title of the bill. [p. 7111]

The Consideration-in-Detail resumed on 18 October 2012.

18 October 2012:

Mr M.P. WHITELY: I will go through those for the minister, if she likes. Trespassing is in the very first paragraph, if the minister would go through this with me. The minister is saying that all the elements need to be there. Let us say there are 12 people at a gathering at someone’s house. Two or more persons associated with the gathering go outside and trespass on a neighbour’s property—that satisfies proposed subparagraph (i), and we have the 12 people, which satisfies proposed paragraph (a). Two of them go outside and stand half a metre inside the boundary of a neighbour’s property so that they are trespassing. We then go to proposed paragraph (c)—that causes alarm to the neighbour. The elements are met then. It is not proposed paragraph (c) plus proposed paragraph (c)(i) plus proposed paragraph (c)(ii) plus proposed paragraph (c)(iii). The word that links them is “or”. The minimum standard therefore is “causes or is likely to cause”. In this case, someone with a very low threshold for alarm is caused alarm because two big burly people with tattoos are standing half a metre inside their front lawn, and the person quivers in fear. They are trespassing because they were not allowed onto the property. There is no discretion in that. All the tests are met. Will the minister tell me where, in that scenario I have just painted, those tests are not met?

Mrs L.M. HARVEY: Although what the member has described may technically speaking fit a definition, it does not fit the intent. This is all based on the premise that an out-of-control gathering is spilling out into a neighbourhood. It is causing fear and alarm substantially —

Mr M.P. Whitely: So, it is in the vibe!

Mrs L.M. HARVEY: Let me finish. It is causing substantial interference with the lawful activities of any person’s substantial enjoyment—substantial interference with the peaceful passage through, or enjoyment of, a place by a person who has lawful access.

Mr M.P. Whitely: You don’t have to meet all of those. It is “or”, “or”, “or”.

Mrs L.M. HARVEY: I put to the member that a senior officer, in making a declaration to declare an out-of-control gathering —

Mr M.P. Whitely: It’s nothing to do with it. You can put that to me all you like. You’re telling me it’s in the vibe. I feel like I’m watching a re-run of The Castle here! This is legislation. It’s what we tell them to do. We are telling them to do exactly what I’ve just outlined.

Mrs L.M. HARVEY: Member, I have to say that this is commonsense. For the purposes of an out-of-control gathering, all the criteria need to be met.

Mr M.P. Whitely: I just explained that they were, and you said that they were technically. That’s the legislation.

Mrs L.M. HARVEY: But it is the commonsense test of a senior officer viewing that. I put to the member that a senior officer would not declare a gathering to be an out-of-control gathering on the basis of two people trespassing unless all the other elements were met.

Mr M.P. WHITELY: We have just heard that it is the vibe.

Mrs L.M. Harvey: How ridiculous! Those are your words; don’t put words in my mouth. [pp. 7270-7271]

Mr M.P. WHITELY: […] I have actually been to some more robust parties than that—not recently, I might add; I am open to invitations—where people have gone outside and committed acts that are somewhat more improper than trespassing, possibly even what is covered by proposed section 75A(1)(b)(v). I do not think I bear responsibility for that as the host of a party. In fact, I remember hosting parties in my parents’ place when I was a young man living in Salter Point, growing up in Manning. People came to my parties and some of them were strangers. Some of them went to the bush across the road and did certain acts that might contravene proposed section 75A(1)(b)(v). I did not know they had done it; I was not responsible for it. But if the legislation had been passed at that stage, I would have been committing a criminal act!

Mr A.J. Waddell: Without any of the fun!

Mr M.P. WHITELY: Without any of the accompanying benefits! [p. 7272]

Dr A.D. BUTI: […] I do not want to use hypothetical extreme examples about a religious purpose getting out of control. It can actually get out of control. For instance, churches such as my local Catholic church have a youth wing. They get together on a Sunday night and have a rock mass. They are young people. In the Catholic Church we enjoy drinking. We are not like the Methodists who do not enjoy drinking. It is actually not absurd to think that may get out of control.

A member interjected.

Dr A.D. BUTI: I did not say it was a church service. Listen carefully.
The purpose of the meeting is a religious purpose. They get together for a religious purpose, which may be a rock mass, but they stay on. They have a Bible discussion. That is still a religious purpose. While they are having the public discussion, they may engage in alcohol consumption. If that gets out of control, that would actually be covered by the contravening acts in the proposed legislation, but they would be exempted because they come under the Public Order in Streets Act. It just seems very unfair that the penalties that they may be liable for are much less than for other purposes.

Mrs L.M. HARVEY: The Public Order in Streets Act only applies to public meetings and processions in streets. An out-of-control gathering covers gatherings that can be on public or private property. In the circumstances the member described, if there was a gathering of people in a church building that fit the criteria and the definition for an out-of-control gathering, yes, it could be declared an out-of-control gathering for these purposes. Bear in mind, member, that there would have to be present the range of issues that have been described in the definition for it to be declared an out-of-control gathering.
To go back to the Public Order in Streets Act, I am not au fait with every subsection of that particular act but that only applies to public meetings and processions in the streets that are for the purposes of divine worship in the circumstances we are talking about.

Dr A.D. BUTI: Before I continue, the member for Churchlands said that the organiser might be God in those cases, so it might be hard to impose liability on God; I understand that. [p. 7277]

That same day, the Consideration-in-Detail was completed. The Bill was read for a third time, passed, and then transmitted to the Legislative Council, where it was read for a first and second time. The Second Reading debate then resumed on 15 November 2012:

15 November 2012

HON KATE DOUST (South Metropolitan — Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [12.44 pm]: […] I reflected on parties and I am sure, looking around the chamber, that people in this place probably were all young once—some people are still young, yes, Hon Alyssa Hayden —

Hon Alyssa Hayden: Only in this house, member!

Hon KATE DOUST: I am sure that we all went to the odd party or two and they all would not have been a sedate Pimm’s and cucumber sandwich effort! I am sure that a few people went to some fairly loud, vigorous and numerously packed events in which sometimes —

Hon Ken Travers: Not that I recall!

Hon KATE DOUST: Not Hon Ken Travers; no, he would have been a very quiet lad, I am sure, and very restrained in his social activities.
Let us face it; we all went to parties when we were younger and some events got a bit out of control. Sometimes the parties might have been a bit loud and the neighbours complained. There might have been some people who had a bit too much to drink and there might have been the odd punch-up. Therefore, in the past, most people would have seen or experienced some sort of party event that got a bit out of control but would have been handled simply by the organisers booting people out or telling people to pull their heads in and behave themselves, or the neighbours might have called the cops if it was too loud. That was how most of those parties were handled.

Hon Ken Travers: What about Ed Dermer’s twenty-first?

Hon KATE DOUST: Hon Ed Dermer is not in the chamber, but I remember that it was a very big and happy occasion with lots of people. However, I cannot remember it getting out of control; I must say that it did not get out of control. [pp. 8673-8674]

Hon KATE DOUST: […] Going back to the 1950s, a particular group in Perth used to have some pretty outrageous, wild parties on the beachfronts. I remember the nuns at school always used to talk with great concern about the bodgies and widgies at Scarborough Beach and the wild parties they used to have. I do not know whether anyone in this place used to—Hon Giz Watson is pointing at Hon Ken Travers saying that he might have been one of those people!

Hon Ken Travers: I was too young to be a bodgie or a widgie!

Hon KATE DOUST: I was thinking that the Leader of the House might have participated in some of those types of events! He might tell us whether he was a bodgie or a widgie. He is probably one of the few people who remember those!

Hon Norman Moore: I used to have very long hair once!

Hon KATE DOUST: Sure; a real groover! I can just see that; I am sure that the Leader of the House participated in many a wild party in his youth. [p. 8674]

Hon KATE DOUST: […] The debate in the other place probably focused more on the number of people at a party. As I said to members earlier, I am expecting a truckload of Johnstons at my place for Christmas, and I can tell members that there will be more than 12. So I am thinking, when this legislation goes through, will I need to notify the police that I will be having this large number of people in my backyard? I will have to make sure that a couple of the nephews behave themselves, I think.

Hon Michael Mischin: I am sure they will behave themselves!

Hon KATE DOUST: They are normally pretty good. [p. 8677]

Hon KATE DOUST: […] The Minister for Police’s second reading speech makes reference to how the organisers of the parties need to put in place measures to ensure that parties do not get out of control. One of those suggested measures is the employment of security guards for the party, which I thought was an interesting comment. I do not know how many parties the member goes to that require security guards—maybe the Liberal Party fundraisers, I am not too sure—but I have not been to too many parties with security guards —

Hon Giz Watson: CHOGM.

Hon KATE DOUST: Yes, CHOGM—one big Liberal Party function with lots of security; quite correct, Hon Giz Watson. [pp. 8681-8682]

Hon GIZ WATSON: […] We know that one of the underlying factors is the use of social networking. There is no doubt that these gatherings get to be huge because people pick it up on their phones and electronic devices and think impulsively, as a lot of young people do—we know they do—“Let’s go and see what that looks like. Let’s go and see if we can get into that party.” It used to happen previously but it was a much slower and more cumbersome process because not everybody had a mobile phone. People had to do it by word of mouth or by the old landlines. The capacity for the numbers to increase rapidly at short notice was just not there. If that is the problem, which I think probably it is, it is that sort of —

Hon Kate Doust: It is that spontaneity.

Hon GIZ WATSON: It is the spontaneity, the lack of alternatives, the excitement of big gatherings.

Hon Kate Doust: And the boredom of not having anything else to do.

Hon GIZ WATSON: Yes; all of those things.

Hon Ljiljanna Ravlich: And you get your picture on the front page of The West Australian.

Hon GIZ WATSON: Sometimes it is a bit of that, but none of that is new. That kind of behaviour has always been around. It is just that we now have the facility, the technology, and people have got very mobile. They can jump in a car rather than having to get on a train or some other means of getting somewhere. There is the capacity for gatherings of a large number of people to occur very rapidly. Often they do not have much in common. They have just all arrived at this point and they get a bit boisterous and silly, as young people can do. Also, as has been pointed out, I am sure most of us have experienced it at some point in our lives.

Hon Ljiljanna Ravlich: No way!

Hon GIZ WATSON: Hon Ljiljanna Ravlich apparently has not, but she is probably a bit unusual in that regard. It is never too late. [p. 8686]

After adjourning, the Second Reading debate continued on 27 November 2012:

27 November 2012

HON PHILIP GARDINER (Agricultural) [11.48 am]: […] Someone sent me a note in relation to the hoon legislation passed recently by this Parliament. It related to a bachelors and spinsters party held in January. Apparently in 2010 there had been some kind of convention in which people took their utes out to a paddock adjacent to the party to hoon around —

b>Hon Kate Doust : And they never get wild, do they?

Hon PHILIP GARDINER: They are country people; we know how respectful they are, Hon Kate Doust!

Several members interjected.

Hon PHILIP GARDINER: Yes, we also have big paddocks!

Hon Giz Watson interjected.

Hon PHILIP GARDINER: That is what the police said also, Hon Giz Watson! [p. 8895]

days of wine and roses
new slang

Hon ED DERMER: […] In more recent times, I had the experience of putting on an eighteenth birthday function at home for my eldest son, Alexander. The two tricky issues when one is putting on an eighteenth birthday function are the question of alcohol and the legal drinking age and understanding the protocols of the particular families of the young people who are invited. We took a number of sensible precautions.
Although it was an eighteenth birthday party and a rite of passage for my son from childhood to adulthood, in many ways we handled it a little bit like we would have handled a child’s party. We made sure that there were lots of activities and food. My wife, Sylvia, is particularly skilled in this way. Although it was officially an eighteenth birthday party, with most of the attendees being 18 or very close to it, they responded well to being given lots of things to eat and to being treated at that level. In that way we were able to minimise the risk of alcohol. I remember Sylvia hiring a chocolate fountain, which was particularly appealing to the young ladies who attended. It involved chocolate and oil and turning the chocolate into a liquid. I cannot think of a better stomach lining! It was mixed with lollies and marshmallows. That is not a bad practical strategy. It would not stop a full-scale riot if people are intent, but it would assist on the more domestic level of youth management. We also took the precaution of hiring a professional security guard. I am very pleased to say that there were no gatecrashers. The one person who imbibed too many alcoholic beverages was certainly over age. That one person fortunately just got quieter and quieter. Hon Kate Doust is giving me a bad look. That person was not 52, 53 or 54 or whatever I was at the time! There was one attendee a little bit over 18 years who did have too much to drink, but he went quietly about his business and did not become aggressive in any way. His quietness was probably the reason that the level of his alcoholic consumption escaped our notice. Having a professional security officer there is a very good backup. I spent much of the evening out the front chatting to the security officer. He was a very nice fellow; I enjoyed the discussion and, luckily enough, we were incident-free. [p. 8903]

HON JON FORD (Mining and Pastoral) [2.20 pm]: […] My first experience with the police was actually very positive; in fact, I have said that if it were not for Mr Archer, who was our local copper, I would probably not be standing in this place today; I would be standing in some other place.

Hon Ed Dermer: Some other institution?

Hon JON FORD: Yes; I would certainly be institutionalised, I think! [p. 8905]

Hon JON FORD: […] My number two son wanted to have a Halloween party—we were living in Kalamunda at the time—and he told me he was going to have about eight or nine mates around, and it was more about the mates and the girls and it would be a quiet little thing out the back.

Hon Simon O’Brien: With a chocolate fountain, like at Ed’s place?

Hon Kate Doust: No, a different kind of party, I think.

Hon Ed Dermer: I’m sorry I didn’t invite the minister! [p. 8905]

Hon JON FORD: […] The classic reactionary situation is when Minister Ludwig was sitting at home watching a Four Corners program about live exports and an abattoir in Indonesia. My colleagues are wondering how the heck I have gone onto live exports when we are discussing out-of-control gatherings.

Hon Kate Doust: It’s a good segue.

Hon JON FORD: Joe Ludwig closed down an industry based on an unchallenged television report, even though it was on an ABC program. What governments must recognise is that just because the media says there is a problem does not mean there is a problem. We have to test the situation and see whether the problem is so large that we need to use specific legislation to deal with it. I wonder what is the next bill that will be introduced, although I will not be here for it. I cannot imagine what legislation my colleagues will face pressure to introduce. Perhaps it will be special legislation to deal with things such as the Big Day Out.

Hon Kate Doust: It’ll be micro-chipping the kids.

Hon JON FORD: That is right; it could be legislation around micro-chipping the children to keep track of them. Maybe there could be a governor on them so that parents could just push the button and they would stop. I will come back for that! [p. 8906]

Hon KEN TRAVERS: […] I know that the Attorney General as a young lad growing up hailed from the Scarborough region. He is of a similar age to me and I am sure that he will recall —

Hon Sue Ellery: What was the pub? Was it the White Sands?

Hon KEN TRAVERS: The White Sands! There were many pubs at Scarborough; the White Sands was one of them.
I do not know whether the Attorney General recalls the Scarborough drags that used to occur when we were much younger of years. I do not know whether the Attorney General would have attended the Scarborough drags.

Hon Michael Mischin: I didn’t have that pleasure.

Hon KEN TRAVERS: You did not have that pleasure, Attorney General?

Hon Michael Mischin: No.

Hon KEN TRAVERS: That is interesting. I had the pleasure of attending the Scarborough drags on one occasion. I recall at the time that there was community angst about the Scarborough drags and what was going on at those events.

Hon Liz Behjat: There was a big tall young person who was creating havoc down there—no wonder they were concerned!

Hon KEN TRAVERS: No, I was—

Hon Sue Ellery: We’ll have to hear the whole story now!

Hon KEN TRAVERS: I was a big tall young person and I attended the drags on one occasion and I had the fear of life put into me that made sure I never went back!


As I say, there was big outrage in the community at the time about wanting to shut down the drags. I will tell the house my story about my one occasion of attending the Scarborough drags. I was in Boy Scouts and I had gone to a Scouts meeting. Afterwards —

Hon Kate Doust interjected.

Hon KEN TRAVERS: I think I was in Venturers actually; I was probably about 16 years old at the time. A couple of my mates—one of whom was old enough to drive—and I were intrigued by these things called the drags. We had heard and we read about them. When I look back and reflect upon it, I wonder why we did these things, but at that age, that is what people do. There is a mystique; there is something about it that we have to go and explore and find out. I turned up at the drags with my friends. I am sure that the Attorney General remembers the Scarborough of old with the high car park and the low car park. The night I was there, all the cars turned up on the low car park and the drivers did their burnouts and carried on down there, and it was like a grandstand overlooking them from above. A complete idiot standing not far from me, who I had never met before in my life, I did not know them, threw a bottle at a police car patrolling across the bottom. The next thing I knew, my friends were pushed to one side and I was pushed into this group of about eight people surrounded by police officers. I can tell members that the panic that went through me at that point in time was immense! Not, I think, so much about the fear of being arrested, but the fear of having to explain to my mother why I had even been at the drags in the first place. I challenge anyone to tell my mother that she was not a good mother, because she was. She was an excellent mother who raised three very good kids and me! My mother now has it clearly on the record that she was a good mother, and my father was a good father.

Hon Michael Mischin: Certainly she was stoic and persevering!

Hon KEN TRAVERS: Yes! She raised three very good kids and me. As my parents always remind me, it took them four goes but eventually they attained perfection!
I went into an absolute state of panic at that point and was bewildered that someone had thrown the bottle. Racing through my head was how I was going to explain this to my mother. I feared my mother, not my father. Eventually a paddy wagon turned up and three coppers came into the group of us, grabbed the guy who had thrown the bottle, dragged him away, threw him in the car and took him away. The event then shut down and everyone left for the night. I can assure the house that to the best of my recollection I never went back to the Scarborough drags or anything like it again because it put the fear of life into me.

Hon Michael Mischin: I am still trying to get over the idea of you down at the Scarborough drags in khaki shorts and walking socks!

Hon KEN TRAVERS: We did not go in our Scout uniforms; we had changed! If my mother ever reads Hansard, she will discover—

Hon Liz Behjat: I will make sure she does!

Hon KEN TRAVERS: Do not worry, member, I will make sure that I tell her too. [pp. 8916-8917]

Hon MICHAEL MISCHIN: […] In those offences there is difficulty proving a common purpose, as opposed to a group of individuals with their own purpose who happen to be unruly and out of control in a particular place together.

Hon MICHAEL MISCHIN: I am flattered by the fanfare!

Hon Peter Collier: Sorry. I apologise.

Hon MICHAEL MISCHIN: I thank the Minister for Education for the applause! You can take some people anywhere! [p. 8934]

The debate then entered the Committee phase:

Hon KATE DOUST: I had not intended speaking on clause 1 until I heard the Attorney General’s second reading reply. I regard the Attorney General as a very intelligent man but sometimes I think he missed the Dale Carnegie school on how to make friends and influence people, because of some of the comments he makes.

Hon Michael Mischin: It keeps me awake at night.

Hon KATE DOUST: I am sure it does. Perhaps it should because to be successful the Attorney General has to learn to work with people better than he sometimes does. After having listened to some of the Attorney General’s responses, we will have to go through this bill in more detail because the Attorney General made a number of comments that have created more confusion than there was before. The Attorney General said that this bill is not about young people but the detail of the bill mentions adults in charge of a child and the juvenile justice system. I do not think this type of legislation is designed to deal with out-of-control gatherings at the Nedlands bridge club.

Hon Giz Watson: Not yet!

Hon KATE DOUST: I am not too sure how rowdy they get! The bill is not designed to deal with the Legislative Council annual Christmas wind-up party, although I imagine that gets out of control from time to time. [p. 8938]

Hon KATE DOUST: […] At the end of the Attorney General’s reply—there is a rowdy party outside the chamber!

Hon Giz Watson: Let’s go!

Hon KATE DOUST: Maybe we should! [p. 8938]

Hon LINDA SAVAGE: […] I do not think proposed section 75A(1)(c) is intended to be used in a prosecution for causing fear or alarm in an elderly person, or for whatever reason, if a party was being held next door. The examples the Attorney General gave were what I consider to be quite genuinely fearful situations. It is reassuring that this proposed section will not be used just because teenagers are being loud and noisy as a group.

Hon JON FORD: I have been sitting in the smoko room because I am experiencing a bad back at the moment and the chairs out there are more comfortable, but I was attracted to the debate on this clause and it enticed me back into the chamber to make a contribution.

Hon Michael Mischin: Glad you could join us.

Hon JON FORD: I was here in spirit. [p. 8947]

Hon SALLY TALBOT: I have noticed before that in Hon Michael Mischin’s world everything is very black and white, and criminals wear suits with arrows on them so it is always very easy to see who the bad guys are! A person does not actually have to borrow somebody’s computer to change their privacy settings. Does it not happen all the time—not all the time, but it is a relatively common phenomenon—that somebody will be having trouble with something electronically and they ring a mate and say, “Why doesn’t this work?” The mate says, “Did your mum do the privacy settings?” It will be blocking —

Hon Kate Doust: You can hack using one of these.

Hon SALLY TALBOT: You can hack anything using an iPhone. On our internet connections in the Parliament, the pop-ups are often blocked with a message saying, “If you want to see the pop-ups, unblock this site.” I am only suggesting, Attorney General, that it is not about somebody saying, “Here’s a party, let’s go and crash it.” I can see in that case there is clearly an onus of responsibility—there is an intent—but if somebody has made a phone call to say, “I can’t get this to work, what has happened?” and the mate on the other end of the phone says, “It’s your mum’s computer. She’s probably got the privacy settings set to X. Go in there and change it to so and so and then you’ll be able to run your game or put your direct X on”, or whatever it is, I am interested in knowing to what extent the owner of the computer is responsible.


Hon MICHAEL MISCHIN: I was trying to be helpful with that, so I am sorry that Hon Sally Talbot chose to patronise me. I do not believe that criminals wear suits with arrows on them; I am not that medieval. I think that I have had a lot more dealings with criminals than she has in the past, in my professional capacity —

Hon Sally Talbot: I would not make that assumption.

Hon MICHAEL MISCHIN: I do not know what the Labor Party and unions do, but anyway! [pp. 8952-8953]

The Committee phase resumed the next day:

28 November 2012

Hon MICHAEL MISCHIN: There is no approved form at this stage, although there is a process—so, a manner approved by the Commissioner of Police—on the Western Australia Police “party” webpage for how to host a party. People can register parties online or they can call a particular number to do the same thing. Those would be, by implication, manners approved by the Commissioner of Police. If people call 131 444 and say that they want to register their party, and they are put through to the right contact, I think they will be pretty safe.

Hon Kate Doust: Don’t you just have to press a button these days?


Hon Kate Doust: You don’t have to answer that. I was just being facetious.

Hon MICHAEL MISCHIN: Is there anything that people do not have to press a button for nowadays!

Hon Kate Doust: That was going to be my next question! [p. 8992]

Following the Committee phase, the Bill was read for a third time and passed by the Legislative Council. The Bill was assented to 6 December 2012.

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