Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (17:27): I am not going to speak for long on this bill, because I think everybody has fully acquitted the legislation and there is no point repeating those words. So I would like to just focus on the amendments that I am proposing to this legislation, and they actually go to some comments that Mr Quilty just made in regard to some the restrictions on advertising.
Fiona Patten’s Reason Party amendments circulated by Ms PATTEN pursuant to standing orders.
Ms PATTEN: My initial amendment deals with alcohol advertising, as I mentioned. It is the use of the word ‘sexual’ in relation to alcohol advertising, and it is the conflation again that somehow something that is sexual is automatically bad and that it is automatically dangerous. I think this is really unfortunate. Currently the legislation says that restaurants, businesses that sell liquor and liquor companies cannot use advertising or promotion that is directly or indirectly sexual, degrading or sexist. Now, I have no problem if you want to prohibit degrading and sexist advertising. That makes sense, and I am supportive of that; I think that is absolutely in line with community attitudes. But to prohibit an advertisement to an adult for an adult product because it may be directly or indirectly sexual? Now, for a start, what is ‘indirectly or directly sexual’? But why would we do that?
The dictionary definition of ‘sexual’ is:
relating to the instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact between individuals.
‘Sexual’ can mean holding hands. It can mean a loving look. It could mean a candlelit dinner. It is the kind of expression that is a normal part of our lives. I mean, for goodness sake, none of us are here without sex. I know we do not like to think about it. But our parents did it, and that is why we are here. Alcohol may have been involved as well, but I am not going to go there. What I am just trying to get to is that sex is a normal part of our lives and that it is not by its nature bad or negative and to be prohibited. We do not prohibit sexual expression for films, for food, for fashion, for cars—for anything—for the climate. We do not prohibit the use of sexual expression. So why would we prohibit it for restaurants, bars and alcohol retailers? To suggest that sexual is negative again I think is out of step. As a feminist I find it kind of appalling that you would conflate ‘sexual’ with ‘sexist’ or ‘degrading’. We can be sexual without it being sexist or degrading, without it being appalling to us and without it denigrating anyone. We can have sexual advertising that is positive, that is life affirming, that is pro women and that is pro equality. I just think it is completely out of step, and that is why I have put up an amendment to simply remove the word ‘sexual’ from there so that the prohibition would be on advertising or promotion that is directly or indirectly degrading or sexist. I think that is a very simple amendment, particularly when you think, ‘What would be indirectly sexual?’. What would advertising that was indirectly sexual be? I am not sure.
Mr Ondarchie interjected.
Ms PATTEN: Like you, Mr Ondarchie, I am struggling. In fact I just find it a bit of an extraordinary overstep on our human rights. While I may not have the same passion as the freedom fighters out there in the rebel Parliament, I have been a campaigner for freedom of speech for probably more years than they have. As I said, I am fully supportive of a ban on degrading or sexist material, but the section as it is currently drafted just goes way too far. It would have a really perverse impact on those businesses that are licensed by the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation to provide sexually explicit entertainment. So they have got a sexually explicit licence, but if this legislation goes through unamended they may not be able to advertise their business, because by their very nature they are sexual. Certainly limit advertising so it is not sexist or degrading, but really this would have a very chilling and censorial effect, and particularly when you think about the LGBTI community. That is about celebrating sexuality. One of my favourite late-night venues from when I was allowed to do this was Poof Doof. Excellent night—I can thoroughly recommend it. But would that be indirectly sexual? It may well be. I think it is certainly important that this amendment be successful. In fact I think the advertising prohibition would look a lot stronger if it was dealing with sexist or degrading material. That would actually send a very strong message there.
My second amendment goes to new section 109C and removes the requirement for a delivery person to refuse to deliver if the customer is at risk of becoming intoxicated. Now, we have heard from a number of the other speakers, and Mr Grimley in particular, about not even having responsible service of alcohol training embedded in there so that delivery drivers know how to not serve an intoxicated person.
But how would you know how to not serve someone who is at risk of intoxication? We do not apply that to any other retailer of alcohol. We do not require restaurants and bars and bottle shops to not sell to a person if they think that person is at risk of intoxication. If someone orders a bottle of whiskey and has it delivered to their home and they drink that whole bottle, they will get intoxicated—if it was me and I drank an eighth of that bottle, I would probably be intoxicated—so how on earth are we asking delivery drivers to make that assessment of someone, that ‘If I give you this bottle of whiskey, you are at substantial risk of intoxication’. Well, yes, everyone would be at substantial risk of intoxication if they were to drink that bottle on that day. If someone orders a slab of beer, they are absolutely at risk of intoxication; of course they may be sharing it with 15 friends, in which case they are probably not. So are we going to have to have a checklist: ‘How much of that are you planning to drink tonight? Are you sharing that with anyone? Have you had any other drinks prior to me delivering this’? We have already said you cannot deliver alcohol to someone who is intoxicated, but now to say, ‘You can’t deliver alcohol to someone who is at risk of getting intoxicated’, I mean, for goodness sake, how on earth can a delivery person understand that?
As I say, we have clear guidelines on how to judge if a person is intoxicated. That is how the rest of the act is structured, and I think this section should reflect that as well. If we do not ask the bottle shop to test whether someone is at risk of intoxication before they sell them a bottle of wine, why would we ask a delivery person to test that before they deliver a bottle of wine? This is just putting enormous responsibility on the delivery people, asking them to ascertain if someone is planning to get intoxicated—‘What are you doing tonight? Are you going to drink all of that?’. If there was some good reason why we should be asking this question, then it should have been throughout the bill. It should have applied to bottle shops, to restaurants, to bars—everywhere. So the bartender could ask you, ‘Are you planning to get intoxicated?’. Or when you go to the bottle shop and buy that bottle of whiskey: ‘Are you going to drink that tonight or are you going to drink that over a week?’ or ‘How much are you going to drink?’. It is asking people to see into the future and it is asking people to second-guess a customer’s motivations.
On that, I hope that the house can support my amendments. I think they are sensible. I had hoped that we could have moved the government to amend it themselves, but I am hopeful that the house will support these two, I think, very reasonable and very sensible, amendments to this bill.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Second reading speech, 28/10/21