Queensland Government Proposes Toughest Liquor Lockout Laws Yet

The Queensland Government recently announced plans to introduce a 2am last drinks policy across the state in what would be the toughest drinking laws in the country.

Under proposed laws, bars and clubs wouldn’t be able to serve shots after midnight, and the only way they would be allowed to serve drinks until 3am would be to institute a 1am lockout. Set to be introduced to parliament later this week, if the legislation passes the laws will come into affect in July next year.

As usual however, the casinos will not be subject to the laws, with the Queensland Attorney General defending the Government’s decision not to amend legislation that allows them to escape the laws. “They have a whole lot more prescription can I say than most licensed venues and they’re pretty rigid about enforcing those,” she told triple j‘s Hack. Interesting position seeing as Sydney’s Star Casino has had such a great record controlling violence since the lockouts came in.

She also suggested to late night revellers that “you can have a flutter on the pokies” if they are looking for something to do after 2am, citing also that “you can have a coffee, you can have a water, you can have a soft-drink.”

However many Queenslanders are upset not only at the laws, but also at the government pushing its policy agenda without consulting with community and business leaders. Posting to Facebook, community organisation Our Nightlife Queensland shared the following message highlighting these concerns, as well as asking members to sign a petition against the laws.

“2am last drinks with NO industry consultation, MORE convoluted legislation, RISKING thousands of jobs across Queensland, for laws that have NO SUPPORT from key stakeholders statewide (including independent MPs), and to address assault rates that are already 63% LOWER than Newcastle and 86% LOWER than Sydney.”

The push to take the measures state-wide has come on the back on hot spots like Townsville, Surfer’s Paradise and Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley having 3am lockouts imposed on them since 2006.

While the government is anticipating a further 30% reduction in emergency department presentations, as secretary of Our Nightlife Queensland Nick Braban points out “we’re only talking about five assaults per weekend in Fortitude Valley as an example, if we reduce that to four that’s great we reduced one, but what’s the loss to cultural capital we’ve had to wear from closing down bars, closing down venues?”

And it’s not just culture that will lose out though, as Braban explained that going by the experience of Newcastle and Kings Cross “we estimate probably 6,000 jobs across the state will disappear….the great majority will be casual jobs which are invariably filled by young people.” So not only can you not have a drink after 2am, odds are you won’t even be able to pay for said drinks after you’ve lost your job.

As Tyson Koh, campaign manager at Keep Sydney Open said to us in his recent interview, Sydney’s lockouts have been devastating for local businesses, while doing little but move the violence to other suburbs. “A drop in assaults of 40% and a reduction in foot traffic of 80% actually means the assault rate has gone up in the Cross. Meanwhile we have one-punch attacks in Waterloo, Bondi Junction, an increase of crime at the casino, Newtown, Pyrmont… the lockouts have been a failure.”

However as with Barry O’Farrell’s laws, the Queensland lockouts were a key election promise for the newly elected Labor Government, so don’t expect them waste too much time consulting with the community or researching more effective alternatives.

There is hope however, to be found strangely enough with ‘Crocodile’ Bob Katter and his Katter’s Australian Party and independent MP Billy Gordan. The opposition refusing to back the plan means Labor needs cross-bench support to pass the legislation, support Gordon and Katter are loathe to give out willy nilly, with Katter’s Australia Party speaking out against recently, even forcing the Government to backdown from their original policy and amend it from 1am lockout to 2am last drinks. Still undecided as to whether they can support this new plan, Crocodile Bob and the mob are meeting today to figure that out.

Currently undertaking consultations with affected business and community leaders, The Australia Party’s Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter said that, “I think everyone wants to reduce alcohol fuelled violence however we are highly sensitive to creating a nanny state through blanket legislation.”

And while many might not agree with Katter’s Australia Party, at least someone is standing up to big government. Let’s hope they can help stave off these draconian measures and help wake government up to the fact that treating citizens like children only exacerbates their poor behaviour.

This week KAP State members Rob Katter and Shane Knuth will be in discussions with communities and business owners on the ALP’s proposed Lockout Laws. “I think everyone wants to reduce alcohol fuelled violence however we are highly sensitive to creating a nanny state through blanket legislation.” Rob Katter Member for Mount Isa

Posted by Katter’s Australian Party on Monday, November 9, 2015

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