Pubdate: Mon, 12 Oct 2009
Source: Australian, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2009 The Australian
Author: Amanda O'Brien
Cited: Premier Colin Barnett
Bookmark: (Marijuana)


West Australian police will have the nation's toughest powers to stop 
and search people under a plan, unveiled yesterday, which removes the 
need for them to show any grounds for suspecting an offence.

Premier Colin Barnett said it was intolerable that people caught with 
weapons or drugs were being let off in court because police could not 
establish that there were sufficient grounds to search them.

He said legislation would be introduced within weeks to allow anyone 
to be stopped and searched without reason in a bid to reclaim the 
streets from thugs.

To thunderous applause at yesterday's state Liberal conference, 
Australia's only Liberal Premier said law and order was a defining 
issue at the September 2008 election.

"I make no apologies," he said. "We will act on that small minority 
that destroy the quality of life and the amenity of this great state 
for the silent majority."

Mr Barnett said he knew he would be accused of breaching civil 
liberties but it was a small price to pay if people felt safer.

He thrilled delegates by promising to also introduce legislation 
within days to throw out the former Labor government's contentious 
2003 drug laws, which allow people to grow two cannabis plants per 
household without criminal charge.

He said it was a ridiculous law and any cultivation would be an 
offence in future.

The amount of cannabis triggering prosecution for possession would 
also be slashed from 30g to 10g, and selling paraphernalia such as 
bongs and pipes would become illegal. "It is absolutely disgraceful 
that, under Labor's approach, we have lottery kiosks selling bongs in 
Western Australia. Not any more."

He said the community had shown at the election it wanted strong laws.

The police commissioner would designate particular areas as "stop and 
search" zones, and the public would know where they were. 
Entertainment areas such as Northbridge in Perth and Fremantle were priorities.

"Police will have the right to go up to anyone they wish to and 
introduce a stop and search power," Mr Barnett said.

"It will not be an invasive search; it will be comparable to the sort 
of search and screening that takes place for any citizen getting on 
an aeroplane.

"We will reclaim Northbridge and other areas of entertainment and 
hospitality for law-abiding young people, for women to go there 
alone, for families and older citizens."

He said Labor had failed on law and order, and he accused the former 
government of trying to con the community into believing cannabis was 
harmless, when it was ruining lives.

"The cannabis of today is not the cannabis of the 60s or 70s. It is 
far stronger, it is harmful," he said.

Under the new laws, anyone found with more than 10g of cannabis, 
enough for 10 to 20 joints, would face a criminal conviction. Anyone 
with less than 10g would be forced to attend counselling.

In his only concession, the Premier said criminal records for minor 
drug offences would be expunged after three years, rather than 10, if 
no further offences were committed. 
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