Can somebody please get Lifeline on the phone to Perth? The city seems hell-bent on destroying itself, slashing its own jobs, businesses, culture and nighttime economy until it’s dead just like Sydney.
At least, that’s the conclusion we’ve been forced to draw from a new proposal to slap harsh lockout laws on the WA capital.
That’s right. Just as the thousands of review submissions raging against the devastating impacts of Sydney’s own lockout laws have been made public, Perth is looking at implementing the same catastrophic knee-jerk solution in response to an isolated street brawl that happened over the weekend in the entertainment precinct of Northbridge.
As Pedestrian.TV points out, footage of the incident shows a group of lads hurling chairs, tables and glass bottles at each other outside a kebab shop at 4am last Sunday morning, with one loose unit even pulling a freakin’ brick out of the ground:
Apparently, the whole thing kicked off because one of the dudes asked to borrow a lighter.
Which is – yes – pretty fucked up.
But the Australian Medical Association’s call to prevent this kind of thing from happening again by “cracking down” on the freedoms of the city’s well-behaved majority (who are currently able to enter Northbridge clubs until 3.30am and buy drinks until 5am) by introducing tougher lockouts has been greeted by a collective forehead-slap from everyone who gives a toss that the laws have actually been proven to cause more damage than they prevent.
One such forehead-slapper is music body West Australia Music (WAM), who are well aware that Sydney’s laws have wrought havoc upon the city’s culture, wiping out countless venues, businesses and jobs and effectively turning Kings Cross into a zombie ghost town where violence has actually increased per-capita thanks to an 80% drop in foot traffic. And where the rest of the violence has been pushed into neighbouring suburbs and – big surprise – the lockout-exempt casino.
“Calling for lockouts is plucking the low hanging fruit of social cures,” said WAM CEO Mike Harris in an impassioned statement (via Pedestrian). “We need to be asking why are there gangs of bored youth in Northbridge who are unlikely to be patrons of any of the establishments in that area.”
He added: “In relation to the footage that has triggered the latest call for lockouts it is quite evident that those involved in the fighting were not patrons of the venue outside where the fighting took place,” (which should really just be a no-der point, right?).
The clincher, though, is the fact that the AMA’s call for lockout laws to curb alcohol-fuelled violence comes at a time when assaults in Northbridge have actually dropped by a whopping 36% since 2008. And that’s according to the WA Liberal’s own website:
With good reason, WAM is fearful of the devastating effects that Sydney-style lockout laws could have on their music scene, which has been responsible for birthing internationally acclaimed acts like Tame Impala, Birds of Tokyo and John Butler Trio.
“WA takes great pride in the successes of its artists,” Harris said. “Take away their opportunities to develop as artists and we won’t have the next generation of West Australian musicians on the global stage.”
Harris’s suggestion of finding a solution that tackles the root cause of alcohol-fuelled violence without imposing oppressive blanket restrictions that punish everyone, push the problem elsewhere and inflict a range of catastrophic side-effects on the city itself may seem completely radical, but maybe some day, one of our state governments will have the balls to give it a go.
Watch: Nine News Northbridge Violence