It’s happening folks. Queensland’s Labor government has announced today that they will be tabling new state-wide lockout laws at the end of this week, with the hope for the new legislation to take effect as early as mid next year. Clearly ignoring the disastrous effects Sydney’s lockout laws have had on their nightlife scene, the Labor government is looking to one-up the rest of the country and propose state-wide measures to combat alcohol fuelled violence – only, the measures could potentially be catastrophic.
Just a few weeks ago, independent MP Billy Gordon revealed his plans to side with Shane Knuth of Katter’s Australia Party and oppose the first round of lockout law legislation which detailed a blanket 1am lockout and 3am last drinks for the entire state. Now, the government has slightly “reworded” their proposal, and has opted to be fully sick legends and give venues a choice: 2am last-drinks policy with no apparent lockout, OR a 3am last-drinks policy and a 1am lockout (in their words, a “one-way door policy”). How would a patron tell the difference between the venues and their chosen policies? That actually remains to be determined.
However, all is not lost guys. Don’t panic too much. Attorney General Yvette D’ath has our back it seems, and took it upon herself to list a plethora of silver linings during an interview with triple J‘s Hack. “You can have a coffee, you can have a water, you can have a softdrink… you can have a flutter on the pokies and enjoyment of the nightlife that is there,” she said yesterday, clearly highlighting that the government has no agenda at all in place and exciting people everywhere with the fact that the beloved and not at all life-enriching pokies will remain untouched (sarcasm is heavily applied here). Oh, but you can also just kick on to your local casino should you still want a beer after 2 or 3am. Casinos are exempt from these new laws. “They have a whole lot more prescription can I say than most licensed venues and they’re pretty rigid about enforcing those.”
The proposition comes with the backing of statistics like the fact that Sydney’s Kings Cross has seen a 30% decrease in Friday and Saturday night admissions from alcohol-fuelled violence. It does not allow for the fact that, although that figure has dropped, foot traffic in general has also dropped 70% so fights per capita has actually increased. It also does not allow for the 6000 jobs that are predicted to be lost due to these new measures, according to Our Nightlife Queensland‘s secretary, Nick Braban. He said of the new measures, “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?”
The government is hoping to table the legislation at the end of this week, but will be relying heavily on cross-bench support for it to go through. Due to small majority the Labor party hold in the Queensland State government, it would appear negotiations will be underway to pull support from cross-bench MP’s in order to get this through. The KAP however, still digging their heels in and refusing to let this go through, will also be looking at tabling their own proposed measures. They could all get some common sense and check out the newly released data that shows that drug and alcohol-fuelled violence is already on a decrease statewide, with rapid improvements in Brisbane’s entertainment precincts as well.
They could all, also, treat the majority with the respect they deserve and not impose nanny state measures to fix a minority’s problem. They could, in fact, put money into education, harsher penalties for those that do offend and fund more resources and training for those who are there to protect people, as well as funding better public transport for people to actually get home. Anyone in any Queensland could attest to the shocking latenight public transport systems we have to deal with. Basically, the Queensland government could quit it with their attempts to ruin an industry and the creative scenes that come along with this industry in one swift movement and instead look at other measures that give people the freedom to do the right thing. The consequences of these actions on the state’s live music scene are extremely concerning to say the least. Let’s just hope common sense prevails before an entire state is ruined.