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ADJOURNMENT: Mitchell Electorate: Alcohol and Drug Use

Mr CADMAN (Mitchell) (7.53 p.m.) —I wish to make some comments about remarks made by Senator George Campbell in the Senate today. Senator George Campbell made some critical remarks about protest meetings endeavouring to stop the establishment of a hotel in the main street of Castle Hill, which is in the centre of my electorate.

My electorate has one of the highest proportion of youth of any electorate in Australia. I am a member of two parliamentary committees currently investigating crime and the use of drugs—the House of Representatives Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the House of Representatives Family and Community Affairs. One committee is looking at crime and the other is looking at drugs. I have, through that process, come across a great wealth of information on the relationship between the use of alcohol and its impact on young people, and the growing abuse of alcohol by young people.

I refer, firstly, to a survey conducted for the Salvation Army in August this year by Roy Morgan Research. The results of that study show that more than 3,700 people die from alcohol related diseases and illnesses every year. The report found that the younger a person is when they start to drink the more likely they are to consume more than 30 drinks a week. The report says:

Average alcohol weekly consumption has doubled in the past 10 years for the 14-24 age group. In 1992, 14% said they consumed 6 drinks or more. In 2002 it had doubled to 28%.

For non-drinkers, amongst the 14- to 24-year age group it had dropped from 54 per cent down to 30 per cent.

Where the family income for over $50,000 drinking commences at 15 and for families earning less than $25,000 drinking commences at 18.

A statement on 4 February 2002 called `For a Healthy Australia' says:

... hazardous drinking was particularly common in the 18-24 years age group. Drinking that would cause acute or chronic health problems accounted for 93 per cent of all alcohol drunk by men in that age group, and for 82 per cent of young women.

In another report from Sonya Neufeld, it says:

Although there has been a rise in alcohol research and programs, the 1998 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found evidence of increased binge drinking and a softening of attitudes to drinking and driving.

In an Australian Institute of Criminology statement, it says that a 1998 survey shows:

·Support for increasing the price of alcohol decreased by 7%.

·Support for raising the legal age of drinking was approximately 9% lower in 1998.

In the National Drug Strategy Household Survey conducted in 2002, it says:

·It is estimated that 1.2 million teenagers consumed alcohol in 2001.

Approximately 6,500 teenagers were daily drinkers, 460,700 were weekly drinkers and a further 730,000 drank less than weekly.

Finally of the reports that I have chosen, the Bureau of Crime and Statistics Research, in their most recent work, indicate that 54.4 per cent of those surveyed—758 respondents—said that on the last occasion the final place they had been drinking was a licensed premises. When questioned about what type of licensed premises, 60 per cent had been drinking at a hotel. The next most popular place was to be drinking at other licensed premises or at home. Eighty per cent of the group indicated that they had drunk above the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for at least one month in the previous 12 months. The reports go on. (Extension of time granted) That is irrefutable evidence of the danger of alcohol for young people.

I will stand up for the youth of our area every time. I will join protests to prevent access in the main streets. I am not against people, in a sensible and mature way, taking alcohol. But to put our young people at needless risk and to have that process of democratic expression in the township of Castle Hill criticised by Senator George Campbell I find quite obnoxious. People should have their say. I will continue to stand up for families.

Senator George Campbell said something about my support for the Castle Hill RSL Club. It is a fine club—it supports diggers, it has been there for many years and it has one of the most wonderful and comprehensive youth and sport programs of any institution in Australia. They are into supporting youth, and that is why I continue to support them. Senator George Campbell should consider his own background. As leader of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, it was said by Paul Keating that he was responsible for the loss of 10,000 jobs. That man has no understanding of democracy. He should have a look at his own record and leave the people of Castle Hill alone.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)—Order! It being 8 p.m., the debate is interrupted.

Author: Alan Cadman MP
Source: House Hansard - 16/10/02
Release Date: 24 Oct 2002


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