A collective forehead-slap rang out across the nation yesterday, as the Queensland government reached a deal to pass the strictest lockout laws in Australia.
One-upping Sydney’s current legislation – with (among other things) 1am venue lockouts and 2am last drinks set to be implemented over the next year – Queensland has basically proclaimed itself the Supernanny State.
And the music community is, quite understandably based on what we’ve already seen go down in Sydney, bracing for imminent catastrophe.
Musician Dominic Miller, who also happens to book several top Brisbane music venues including The Zoo and Black Bear Lodge, reckons the changes will have a vastly negative impact on the crucial post-midnight trade period.
“Most live music venues open as a bar, a normal bar, between midnight and 3:00am or midnight and 5:00am on Friday and Saturday nights. Those three hours are when we make most of our money for the week,” he explained to the ABC.
“It allows us to subsidise those gigs that may only get 100, 200, 300 people on a Wednesday or Thursday night.”
Miller fears that the lockouts could spell a “Kings Cross-style wipe-out” of venues across Brisbane who will now lose money because of the restrictions in trade, as well as severely hampering the chances of another great Australian musical export ever coming from Brisbane.
“If there’s no gigs, the bands are going to move… or they are just not going to make that next level in the first place, and we will miss out on those great exports that we have at the moment, bands like Violent Soho,” he said.
“Either they will go somewhere else, or they will break up before they get a chance.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday described Queensland’s late-night precincts as “war zones”, following the tragic one-punch death of 18-year-old Cole Miller in Fortitude Valley earlier this year.
While Government Minister Dr Anthony Lynham referred to the lockouts as a necessary trade-off for Queenslanders, leveraging less grieving families against “A very small adjustment in our night-time economy”.
But as Sydney-siders know all too well, the “adjustment” brought about by even less severe lockouts than these has been far from “small”, with lockouts decimating at least 16 former award-winning and thriving venues, and hundreds of jobs along with them.
Joel Edmondson, the head of QMusic – which puts on Australia’s biggest music industry conference BIGSOUND in Fortitude Valley each year – says the organisation is “immensely disappointed” with the government’s decision to lock up Brisbane.
“About 70 per cent of an artist’s income is derived from live performance because of the state of recorded music sales in the world now,” he told the ABC.
“What’s happened in Kings Cross [with the closure of venues], there’s really absolutely no reason that’s not going to happen here, particularly in the Valley.”
Edmondson reckons that instead of shutting everything down, the Government should try to engage with contemporary music, which is a $1.9 billion-a-year market.
“It’s less likely that a band … will rise up, and if they do, it’s going to happen in Melbourne after they’ve moved there because they are going to have somewhere to play,” he said.
And as Queensland is just beginning its own toxic love affair with lockout laws, thousands of Sydney-siders are gearing up for a massive demonstration against their own, this Sunday.
It follows a monumental social media backlash against NSW Premier Mike Baird aka #casinomike, who pretty much stated that the laws are here to stay, upcoming review be damned.
Meanwhile, Melbourne be all like: