Scott Hutchinson, the co-owner of Brisbane live music venue The Triffid has offered to “bankroll whatever is necessary” to kickstart an anti-lockout campaign.
The Queensland Labor government’s lockout laws which will be ushered in on Friday, stipulate that shots will be banned after 1am and late night venues must close at 3am. From next February a 1am lockout law will be introduced, similar to Sydney’s 1:30am lockout law.
Hutchinson, who is also the chairman of Hutchinson Builders, the state’s largest private construction company, has given up on trying to sway the government’s decision from the inside.
“I’ve tried to change things internally the quiet way but you’re not going to,” he told The Guardian.
“All you can do here is ram through.”
Hutchinson is a supporter of the Labor party and he tried “to get [the laws] stopped on the floor,” but was obviously unsuccessful. He believes that the party is treating their supporters, which are made up by many people in the music industry and the broader arts community, “shabbily”.
He further said he believes cabinet member and professional surgeon Anthony Lynham was largely to blame for the laws. He was a vocal supporter of placing laws on licensed venues even before he entered parliament and assisted in getting the laws across the line.
Hutchinson’s venue The Triffid, which he co-owns with Powderfinger bassist John Collins, is not affected by the lockout laws. He says, “this isn’t about the money,” rather, “this is about Brisbane”.
He believes, however, it is about money for the government.
“And of course [the lockout] doesn’t apply to the casino. It’s so cynical. They don’t care about music but they care about money.”
NSW’s Liberal government has been often criticised for not consulting the late night industry enough about the laws before putting them in place and it seems Brisbane has suffered a similar problem.
“Brisbane’s a real incubator for music at the moment and they didn’t consult us at all about this, they didn’t consult the music industry one bit, they didn’t care less,” Hutchinson said.
“They’ve taken those people as Labor voters and they won’t change their vote. Well, they will. Young people are already turning. This is going to give Labor a stupid look for the next decade if they’re not [willing to change policy].”
Sydney’s streets have become ghost towns since the laws were introduced more than two years ago. Venues have shut down one after another with Kings Cross, once Sydney’s late night mecca, the worst affected. Hutchinson believes Brisbane locals will get angry once they see the same thing happening there.
“Once it comes in, then they get angry, they see people going broke, the streets start getting cleared, businesses are in trouble.”
He’s vowed to run an anti-lockout campaign which he believes will can match the power of a 15,000 person protest. And he’s willing to do it at whatever cost.
UPDATE 05/07/16: Queensland venues are reporting a 20 per cent drop in business since the state’s new lockout laws were implemented on Friday, 1st July.
Gallery: Keep Sydney Open Rally, 21.02.16 / Photos: Ashley Mar