Booze bus becomes Big Brother bus

14 May 2008

POLICE booze bus operations are being used by other agencies to enforce laws that have got nothing to do with drink driving. Recent reports suggest that booze bus operations in the northern suburbs of Melbourne are also attended by: agents of the Sheriff's Office, checking for outstanding warrants;•agents of the EPA, checking for noisy vehicles; agents of the Taxi Directorate, checking compliance; agents of the Immigration Department, checking visa status; agents of Centrelink, checking to see whether welfare recipients are driving taxis.

"If these reports are true, it is an outrageous misuse of Police coercive powers" said Julian Burnside, President of Liberty Victoria. "The power to force a driver to submit to a breath test is given for a specific purpose. It should not be used as an occasion to see if the driver has any unpaid parking fines, nor should it be used to enforce the Migration Act or to check a driver's welfare status" he said.

He added: "The State's powers of coercion should always be carefully checked. We do not want Big Brother buses as part of the State's law enforcement machinery."