New police powers flout civil liberties

January 22, 2011
Perth Resistance members protest proposed police ‘stop and search’ powers in Western Australia, April 20

The Socialist Alliance (SA) has criticised recent state government changes to the Liquor Control Act as an infringement of civil liberties.

Under the changes, police have the power to issue “barring orders”, which ban an individual from licensed premises without incurring 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 SA spokesperson Alex Bainbridge.

The government has justified the change on the grounds it will target people who are violent or disorderly on licensed premises.

But Bainbridge said the argument did not add up. “Violence and offensive behaviour is already illegal and publicans and police already have significant powers at their disposal to deal with these problems,” he said.

“There are dangers that Aboriginal people, young people and poor people could be unfairly targeted by police with these powers.

“Further, there is the danger that this could become the 'thin edge of the wedge' — the government could decide to extend these powers to other situations.”

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