Queensland venues are reporting a 20 per cent drop in business on the first weekend since the state implemented new lockout laws on Friday, with 3am last drinks now set for venues in entertainment districts and 2am last drinks for those outside such areas.
As triple j‘s Hack program reports, data from five of the biggest venues in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley show that business was down 17 per cent on Friday night compared to the same weekend last year, and down 24 per cent on the week before. On Saturday, business was down by 19 per cent on the same time last year.
Nick Braban, the secretary of Our Nightlife Queensland, says that while these figures are only initial numbers from venues which have applied for liquor licensing exemptions to trade until 5am, they show there’s “some definite effects already to patronage” in entertainment precincts.
“People are not sure about coming out I think, they’re less inclined to come out and we’ve got to hope and pray that changes and people start to come out earlier so we can buck these trends,” he says.
“Most casual staff saw a two-hour reduction in their hours across Friday and Saturday night, so that’s probably equating to $80 or $90 out of the pocket of some of these people.”
Queensland’s Attorney General, Yvette D’ath, says the effectiveness of the state’s new regulations can’t be evaluated so soon.
“We cannot measure the outcomes of these changes over one weekend,” she says. “The Palaszczuk Government committed to a comprehensive review after two years in July, 2018.”
Queensland’s casinos are exempt from the state’s new laws, but Mr Braban wants that exemption extended to include music venues.
“If we look at venues that promote independent and original music, be it electronic or live, if those venues are adding something culturally to the fabric of the state of Queensland then I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be allowed some sort of exemption,” he says.
The Queensland Government says the state’s four casinos are exempt because they have better security, but Mr Braban believes nightclubs and other venues have just as many cameras and security guards.
Aside from introducing new last drinks regulations, Queensland’s controversial new lockout laws have also banned the sale of shots, shooters and drinks containing more than 45mL of spirit or liquor after midnight, with the same restriction for pre-mixed drinks with more than five per cent alcohol content.
Hundreds of people gathered to protest lockout laws at a Keep Queensland Open rally in June. Since then, the wealthy co-owner of Brisbane live music venue The Triffid, Scott Hutchinson, has offered to “bankroll whatever is necessary” to kickstart an anti-lockout campaign in the city.
With Queensland’s new last drinks cutoffs now in place, the state is set to introduce stricter 1am lockout regulations in February 2017, moving away from the 3am lockout and 5am closing times it introduced in 2005.
Gallery: The Funniest Anti-Lockout Banners From The ‘Keep Sydney Open’ Rally (21.02.16)