Queensland is now set to implement a strict set of lock out laws, and is looking to follow in Sydney’s dying night life footsteps. In hindsight of this announcement, I’ve asked some of Brisbane’s most notable industry voices to have their say. Their answers speak for themselves. #KEEPBRISBANEOPEN
Stoney Roads: First of all, introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do.
Nick Galea: I’m Nick Galea, producer, studio owner and DJ.
Jeremy Di Re: My name is Jeremy and I have worked in live music for 7 years booking, promoting and running club nights and shows in the alternative music community. I also manage an anti-lockout law group called Right To A Good Night.
Hayden Batchelor: My name is Hayden Batchelor. I am currently a booking agent for One Hit Agency. I have been part of the Brisbane/QLD clubbing scene for the past 5 years as a booker and a resident DJ for venues such as The Met, The Family, Platinum Nightclub, and The Helm Club.
Aidan Gillespie: My name is Aidan, I’ve worked in the nightlife and electronic music industry in both Sydney and Brisbane and currently book and promote a nightclub here in Brisbane.
Nick Braben: I’m Nick Braban, I manage Queensland’s state association of nightclubs, small bars, live music venues and other similar venues that operate primarily in our entertainment precincts. We work with our members to advocate, engage and campaign on better legislative outcomes for venues, their employees, and their entertainers.
Steven Windolf: Hi, I’m Steven and I run a production company based in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley and we service 90% of Brisbane’s nightclubs from installation to hire.
Mitchell Spurrier: I am Owner/Director of Club Metro & Owner/Director of Catch Management.
Otis Noble: Hi I’m Otis Noble, a former venue owner/director of a live music venue and current duty manager and marketing manager for the Woolly Mammoth in Brisbanes Fortitude Valley.
Stoney Roads: In a short paragraph, give us the low down on what exactly is happening in regards to Annastacia Palaszczuk and her legislation.
Nick Braban: Legislation has been passed that will come 1 July 2016 will see last drinks served at 3am in precincts in Queensland, and at 2am everywhere else in the state. Further to this, come 1 February 2017 we will have a 1am lockout instituted in the precincts. Other parts of the legislation include bans on high-alcohol drinks after 12am, continuation of gaming via poker machines after last drinks, exemptions for casinos, and a lot of other technical things.
Hayden Batchelor: Well essentially Miss Palaszcuk had secured a last minute behind close door deal with the Katter’s Australian Party MP’s Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth to secure her governments support to implement these ridiculous lock out laws. Any drug offenders no matter how big or small the offence will be banned from any nightclub precinct in which the offence took place.
Steven Windolf: Basically from our perspective it’s laws that have been put in place by people who have no awareness or education on the nightlife scene in Brisbane and have been put in place in order to be seen to be doing omething without community consultation
Stoney Roads: How will the lock-out laws personally affect you?
Jeremy Di Re: Personally, I stand to lose my livelihood and watch the end of Brisbane’s live music scene, something I’ve been involved in since I was a teenager. Brisbane is fast becoming the envy of the country in regards to live music. We have a lions share of venues for our city’s size, incredible ticket sales from extremely dedicated fans and a real sense of close-knit community amongst venues, promoters and punters.
Hayden Batchelor: The lockout laws will affect me dramatically. I book acts to venues across Australia and we will now we are now limited, therefore it will result result in less work for artists and myself not to mention the countless others. I will not be able to play my close sets to gain extra income when work slows down. I honestly will probably have to look for some casual/part time work.
Nick Galea: My business is heavily focused on electronic music. I have devoted my life to teaching kids & adults to make music. As lock out laws come into effect, I’m worried that the interest in wanting to make music or to pursue a career that will vanish with our nightlife culture due to impeding laws on the nightlife industry.
Nick Braban: It will be heartbreaking to see the damage that may be done to small venues across the state, especially underground clubs and live music venues. Even worse personally it will be really hard to see friends in the industry worry about their future. The transition will be hard on people and the stress will take a toll and I really don’t want to see good people emotionally damaged because of these laws.
Steven Windolf: Many of my clients will close as a result to this, meaning a massive loss to my small business and a loss to my staff with no work available for them, this will pretty much force them to look for jobs outside of the live music audio and lighting enviroment and into an industry that they do not have a passion for.
Mitchell Spurrier: In respects to Club Metro, being that we trade outside of the Valley precinct it will cut an hour of trade from our already shortened trading period (3am close) which will mean we only have 5 hours of trade. However, that extra hour can make the world of difference to our bottom line. It will certainly make things harder in respects to running a profitable business in a market that is already so regulated.
Otis Noble: Dramatically, we saw over 400 venues ranging from restaurants to bars to night clubs close in Sydney that was once a upon a time known as a world renowned city. Brisbane, while it does have an extremely immersive and diverse bar scene, one thing we’ve never had the world city status Sydney had.
Stoney Roads: What do you think about casino’s being exempt of these laws?
Jeremy Di Re: I think the hypocrisy of the casino exemption is obvious to most people. The argument is that the casinos primary reason to exist is for gambling, not drinking. This logic could also be applied to live music venues, yet it isn’t. The facts are that the casinos are some of the most violent places you can go out to, and making them the only place open after 1am on a Saturday night is only going to exacerbate this problem, as we’ve seen in Sydney with the Star City Casino recording 3 times as many assaults as central nightclubs. Casinos should be, at the very least, included in lockout legislation, because the booze sold there does not come “violence-free” either.
Nick Galea: Double standards & honestly who are they kidding here with the new grand plans for all these new QLD casinos going in… talk about a back hand. The QLD casino is so violent for one, it’s encouraging gambling problems.
Aidan Gillespie: Not to draw conclusions, but really it looks like the government is unfortunately trying to capture the next generation of problem gamblers.
Otis Noble: I think it makes the picture that this was never to curb alcohol fuelled violence. Take The Star casino for example assault there went up something 6.3% per month according to a recent boscar report.
Nick Braban: Casinos don’t support underground music, they don’t support counter-culture, and they don’t offer much to young people. There is a place for casinos in the world no doubt, but not to the detriment of the rest of us.
Stoney Roads: What do you think the issue is that sparked the lock-out laws? How can that be addressed?
Jeremy Di Re: The lockout laws are officially a “response to wildly escalating violence” in licensed venues. However, this seems out of touch as the majority of alcohol related violent incidents occur at private residences or in public places, only 15% of violence occurs in venues. This, on top of the fact that violence is actually decreasing, makes me think that lockouts are a reactionary bit of law that secures a niche Baby Boomer voting base.
Nick Braban: There is a belief in certain parts of the Australian community that violence in entertainment precincts is out of control. Nothing could be further from the truth. Crime in all precincts across Australia is down very substantially compared to previous decades. There are also many venues that have little to no issues with things like assaults, and these are normally small bars, underground clubs, and live music venues. These are venues based on music, culture and high quality offerings. We need to tell a story about these places, about how intrinsic they are not only to our cityscapes, but to our cultural heritage as well.
Mitchell Spurrier: What happened to Cole Miller in Brisbane and the ramifications of that event are absolutely heartbreaking. There is absolutely no excuse for that kind of behaviour and it is something Brisbane venues work extremely hard in preventing on a daily basis. There is no doubt the media and Annastacia have used this incident to try and push their agendas and try and prove that Brisbane is in need of these lock out laws.
Otis Noble: The ‘issue’ if you can call it that was apparently a out of control and I quote from Palaszczuk “war zone” on our streets which alone seems wrong as shes punishing an entire state now for her views on a the Valley, where if anything its anything but a “war zone” its beyond disrespectful for every returning service woman and man that she would even refer to the valley as that.
Stoney Roads: Where is Annastacia going wrong? Does she have any points that are valid?
Hayden Batchelor: The right question is where hasn’t she gone wrong. You need harsher penalties and restrictions for the 5% yet 95% doing the right thing will also suffer. But hey, lets scoot on down to the casino for a flutter and a martini shall we?
Nick Braban: She is right in that we need to do something as a society to address violence. Her target is the wrong one though. Last year it was reported that 363000 women in Australia were hospitalised due to domestic violence or reported it to the police. The violence associated with our entertainment precincts doesn’t even come close to this number (across brisbanes 3 precincts last year the number was just over 1500). We need to fix the root cause of the issue, because closing clubs doesn’t stop this scourge.
Nick Galea: The violence she is trying to address is great! but they are going about it the wrong way. I have been all around Australia the world. 24hour city’s are less violent then the ones that lock you up and out. The UK trialed this lock out law years ago & violence escalated extremely. Time & time again they are counterproductive.
Stoney Roads: What are some ideas that you have that will make Brisbane’s night life safer?
Jeremy Di Re: What needs to happen is a cultural change in this country. We idolise footballers who bash their girlfriends, an entire generation watched a comedian, footballer and role model spout the phase “Bring Back The Biff” every week on The Footy Show. We created this problem by allowed violence to be normalised, the only real fix will come from education, not legislation.
Aidan Gillespie: More policing, education and harsher penalties for offenders. Prevention has such big relevance in this industry and teaching people how to deal with alcohol and violence from a young age correctly needs to be considered so differently in the future.
Nick Braban: We need to invest in and activate our public spaces. Night markets, food truck park ups, buskers, performance art, the list of possibilities goes on. We need to educate people about substance abuse and violence. Finally we need to enforce the laws on those who would attack others, on the venues who do the wrong things, and we need to hold each other to account.
Mitchell Spurrier: Increased public transport at peak times, a stronger police presence, more frequent interaction between venue security, approved venue managers, venue owners and QPS whilst implementing harsher penalties for offenders of violent crimes. I do believe that the safest place for a patron to be is inside a venue when they are partying.
Stoney Roads: Sydney had a massive turn out to their ‘Keep Sydney Open’ protest, do you feel like Brisbane can have the same voice and impact?
Nick Braban: Of course. It almost always takes the reality of the damage done to get people engaged, motivated and emotional about issues. I hope like Sydney, now we are looking at the reality of this situation, everyone will mobilise and get behind those who have been fighting these things for the last few years.
Aidan Gillespie: Sydney has done an amazing job in impacting the idea of what the general public may have on lockout laws. What has just happened is that collectively the people of Sydney have shown that David can take on Goliath with such a huge amount of people coming out and showing support for the quickly declining concept of lockout laws. Apart from the fact that 15,000 people attended the protest, its amazing to see 50,000+ signatures on the Keep Sydney open petition. This is going to work if anything, as a motivation for Brisbane to show that we can have an impact on these laws and the voice of the little guy can really be heard. How do you think people around the world will view Australia if other states follow in Sydney and Brisbane’s lead?
Stoney Roads: How do you think people around the world will view Australia if other states follow in Sydney and Brisbane’s lead?
Mitchell Spurrier: I was speaking with an artist on the weekend who tours the states frequently and he stated how these lock outs laws are all over American television and press. It seems the majority of America is wondering what the hell is going on over here and how the laws our governments are putting in place are going to make a difference. It’s sad to think that other country’s once looked at Australia as the leaders in dance culture and followed suit on our trends and music, if other states follow suit I can’t see there being much hope for us in maintaining the reputation that we currently have. ‘Keep Brisbane Open’ have organised a peaceful protest on June 25 at New Farm Park from 3pm which will be such an important event for Queensland nightlife. I strongly suggest everyone making the event to have your voice heard and create awareness if we are to have any hope in fighting these lock out laws.
Otis Noble: My other job is I work on a major music festival that this has acts such as Kendrick Lamar, UB40, City and Colour and and and just to name a few, I can tel you right now we’re the laughing stock of the music industry – agents and managers are scared to send artists to Australia as it is because it such a big financial risk but this has just push it beyond belief, I fear for our culture, our arts and most importantly jobs that seem to be disregarded with this knee jerk blanket solution that simply will not help.
Jeremy Di Re: Alison Wonderland said it best with “Our beloved Sydney’s reputation has taken a f–king battering & words can’t explain how embarrassed I am that my home, the most beautiful and once most vibrant city in the world has become a laughing stock internationally.” The fact that the tourism state, Queensland, is enacting the same laws is absolute lunacy. We need to Keep Australia Open.