Fingering the wrong people

Fingerprinting hotel managers a step too far 29 May 2006

In what type of society does Racing & Gaming Minister Mark McGowan want us to live?

His planned law and order reforms require liquor licensing applicants to be fingerprinted.

What a gross over reaction to last year’s shooting at Metro City nightclub.

I’m usually not a big worrier about civil liberties. Essentially, I believe that if every citizen provided a DNA sample, the Plod would be able to solve crimes a lot quicker than happens now.

PRINT THE LOT

If you’ve nothing to hide, why not submit a sample?

This argument probably runs parallel with Mr McGowan’s idea but forcing hotel, restaurant and club licensees and approved managers to have fingerprints on file with the WA Police is a gross over reaction to one incident and presumes the applicants are guilty until proven innocent.

It all stems from the night at Metro City when a gang leader was allegedly shot by Coffin Cheater Troy Mercanti and the crime scene was supposedly tampered with, hampering police in their investigation.

Consequently, the minister wants to fingerprint everyone who locks up at pubs and clubs.

Good work Superman. I feel it is beyond argument that I have socialised in more Perth hotels, clubs and restaurants in the last three years alone than Mr McGowan would have entered at least since his time in State Parliament and I rarely if ever have worried or known about “people who work there are suspect”. I believe the minister is trying to make damage for many when he is only trying to eliminate the few.

Mr McGowan in his Clark Kent guise doesn’t look the sort of guy who drinks at seedy joints but he reckons “Everyone who has gone to these places will know that some people who work there are suspect, and we want to try to eliminate that” (Assembly Estimates A, Hansard May 25).

CLARK KENT (SUPERMAN)

His plan is an attempt to keep the crims out of the industry but isn’t that what probity checks are for?

Applicants to all manner of racing and gaming and liquor licenses have to apply via the Office of Racing Gaming and Liquor Licensing and police checks are conducted on these individuals.

Why do we have to fingerprint them under the guise that it will assist police to see if these people have been associated with crime scenes?

The minister is casting a slur on members of this industry. I can’t imagine Jack Sheedy or Harry Ferrante or Lin Ryan or any number of prominent former or current hotel licensees and restaurateurs agreeing to be fingerprinted.

These men are above reproach but Mr McGowan seems to think the modern hotelier, restaurateur and club licensee is some form of crook.

It is a total over reaction. Why not take DNA from the applicants to make a good thing of it?

The idea to ensure licensees are squeaky clean is sound but history shows if crooks want to get involved in any industry requiring a licence they will use third parties to hold licenses.

The police should establish these connections and root them out before they take hold.

For a man of such studied principles, Mr McGowan has shown little or no concern for the civil liberties of the industry stakeholders.

He admitted this in Estimates: “I had not really thought much about the issue of civil liberties.”

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