It is not my intention to speak at length.
The amendments before us are streamlined. We have heard many contributions and, as I understand it, there is cross-party support, but what I hope to do is give a quite succinct contribution that hits home at the points that are behind the very intent of the amendments.
Firstly, containing weapons, tackling violence and having safer communities have been absolute priorities for the Bracks government from day one. As we have heard today, the amending bill enables a number of key things. I will go through them quickly just one more time. It has increased the penalties. It has greater specific penalties for carrying weapons on or around licensed premises or entertainment facilities. It removes self-defence as a lawful excuse for carrying weapons such as knives. It tightens the provisions relating to the sale of such items, and tightens the exemptions.
The amending bill reflects the increasing concern in the community about the possession of weapons and their potential use by young people in opportunistic and vicious assaults, particularly around licensed venues, and indeed the effect it has on family violence as well.
In tackling this issue we should not just focus on the young males perpetrating violence against each other. Whilst cases of such violent behaviour often have graphic and confronting media coverage, this amendment covers all situations where weapons can be and have been used by people — whether it be in the workplace, at sporting events or in violent acts perpetrated behind closed doors, which is the ever-present and far-too-common occurrence of domestic violence.
This amendment is about increasing the penalty to a more appropriate level to fit the crime; it is about restricting access to weapons; it is about getting people to think about the consequences of violent acts that involve weapons. It removes excuses for violence, and it also provides a greater sense of security and safety. This will particularly assist the elderly and the more vulnerable in our society. It will enable them to be more confident and feel free to get out and about without being afraid.
This amendment is about the Bracks government’s commitment to leading and delivering safer communities through facilitating cultural change, one which does not tolerate violence. I argue that there has been a quantum leap in community attitudes. Some things, such as a fight down at the local pub on a Saturday night, were once tolerated.
It is now not an acceptable community standard to allow these things to occur or for excuses for violence to be made. It is becoming increasingly unacceptable for all forms of violence, no matter at what level, to persist in these communities.
As a newly elected member I look forward to contributing to the further amendments scheduled for 2007 that will enhance community safety, and I commend this amending bill to the house.