Australia’s harshest lockout laws to be tabled in Queensland parliament by close of the week.
Queensland has been a stir this week amidst the looming introduction of the toughest lockout laws in the country.
Set to be tabled in Queensland Parliament before the close of the week, the ‘Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Reduction Plan’ will prevent bars and clubs from serving shots after midnight or selling any alcohol after 2am.
Businesses in entertainment districts will receive a sliver of reprieve by being able to serve drinks until 3am providing a 1am lockout is enforced.
As with similar reforms in Sydney and Newcastle Casinos will not be bound the reforms.
If approved the plan would not come in to play until July 2016, but there has already been fierce debate amongst various stakeholders.
“About 30,000 hospitalisations take place each year due to alcohol consumption” Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath, a key proponent of the reforms, has contended.
“One in six Queenslanders has been the victim of alcohol-fuelled violence and two-thirds of Queenslanders consider the city or centre of their town is unsafe on a Saturday night.”
“The community is telling us it’s time to act, to keep people safe.”
But the use of ‘community’ could be a misnomer as many have spoken out about the policy.
Organisation Our Nightlife QLD feels the government’s policy is poorly realised, noting that assault rates in Queensland are already 63% lower than Newcastle and 86% lower than Sydney.
Nick Braban, secretary of the organisation went on record with Triple J’s Hack earlier this week to voice his concerns. “We’re only talking about five assaults per weekend in [Brisbane’s] 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?”
Braban also noted the negative impact the analogous NSW reforms were having in Newcastle and Sydney Kings Cross estimating that 6,000 Queensland jobs will disappear.
Braban’s remarks come after a number of other concerning statistics regarding the New South Wales reforms.
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that similar measures taken in Sydney providing for 1.30 am lockout and 3am last drinks 12 months ago have pushed violence into areas outside of lockout zones rather than curb it.
Also a concern was that Sydney’s Star Casino, exempt from the laws the venue has become the city’s worst hotspot for violence since the introduction of the contentious reforms.
The Queensland’s Labor government remains adamant about the merits of the proposed reform.
Minister Dr Anthony Lynham, a key driver behind the reforms, has commented that it was a great day for him to see the changes about to be put before parliament.
“It’s a great day for mums and dads out there, a great day for our kids,” he said.
“I’m very, very happy that today has finally come.”
With parliament having been in session since Tuesday and the reforms to be one the most high profile matters considered there’s little doubt we’ll be hearing more on the reforms in the coming days.
(This is a stream of the Hack special)