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ACT Government Backs Down On Proposed New Lockout Laws

Written by Zanda Wilson on July 28, 2016

The ACT State government has ditched a proposal to legislate to implement lockout laws in the nation’s capital.

Potential new laws would have seen a 3:00am closing time for bars and nightclubs, or an increase in fees for businesses who continued to sell alcohol after that time in an effort to curb alcohol-fueled violence.

Any changes have officially put on the back-burner for now, after the Greens spoke out in strong opposition to the proposals, making it clear that they would block the proposed lockouts from making their way through parliament.

“The Greens didn’t support restrictions on trading hours because we want Canberra to have a thriving night time economy,” said ACT Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury. “It would shut down opportunities for nightlife and entertainment in Canberra, when in fact we should be moving in the other direction. We can have safety and entertainment at the same time.”

Rattenbury also went on to propose that the Greens supported other means to curbing alcohol-fueled street violence, including building up transport options and supporting the growth in numbers of small bars and restaurants.

“We believe an emphasis on smaller bars, restaurants and live music is one of the key issues to addressing alcohol-fueled violence,” he said. “Certainly having good transport options for people to get home at the end of the night safely is another important part of maximising the ability for people to go out without getting involved in alcohol-related violence.”

Despite these comments from Rattenbury and the Greens, ACT Government Chief Minister Andrew Bar refused to admit that the government had backflipped purely because of the strong opposition by the Greens. He instead insisted that the response to the proposal in Cabinet was mixed.

“Well without me it wasn’t going to get up and I didn’t support it and that was the most important factor in the decision,” he told the ABC. “I’m not going to go through in great detail the position of each individual Cabinet minister, but suffice to say the Attorney-General put forward a discussion paper and it had the support of all of his colleagues.”

“The issue here is to what extent does the poor behaviour of a very small number of people dictate a response that impacts very negatively on a much larger number of people,” said Bar.

The organisers of Keep Canberra Open have celebrated the move as a win, stating in a Facebook post “we are extremely proud of the results we have achieved since beginning #KeepCanberraOpen.” Despite the good result, organisers say that they will still move forward with their next rally, set to take place this Saturday, 30th July.

“Keep Canberra Open supporters must remain vigilant as the Government has ‘put off’ but NOT ABANDONED making a decision on last drinks or closing times until after the election. We must continue with our Rally to ensure the Government makes it clear what changes it will implement if it were to be re-elected,” said the post.

Minister Bar has since responded to the post, writing: “We have ruled out making changes to last drinks or closing times – now and in the future.”

Gallery: The Funniest Anti-Lockout Banners From The ‘Keep Sydney Open’ Rally (21.02.16)

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