All Queensland politicians should search their conscience about the effectiveness of Queensland’s nightclub lockout laws in the wake of the Cole Miller death on Monday, Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts believes.
“I would like all parliamentarians to look to their consciences and to grasp that particular nettle,” Mr Potts said.
“It is often said that bad cases make for bad laws; here is a situation where a bad case may make for good law,” he said.
An alcohol-related arrest.
Drinks can now be served until 3am in the 15 entertainment precincts around Queensland. That includes Brisbane City, Fortitude Valley, Surfers Paradise and Cairns.
Within these areas 100 venues are able to serve alcohol until 5am.
Mr Potts said it was ineffective to concentrate on toughening penalties – increasing jail time, or imposing longer minimum terms – to control alcohol-fuelled violence in Queensland’s nightclub areas.
“Invariably what we are talking about is young men, drunk, in the middle of the night, walking out of hotels and nightclubs,” Mr Potts said.
Mr Potts said the supply of alcohol simply needs to be better controlled.
“The simple reality is that – to prevent these types of deaths – what we need to do is have the parliament properly – and in an adult way – have look at the lockout legislation,” he said.
The Queensland government introduced its compromise changes to the previous government’s “lockout laws” in November 2015, but does not plan to implement them for several months.
Mr Potts said evidence showed a 30 per cent decrease in violence in Newcastle when closing times were restricted and called for a re-think on the proposed policy.
“That 30 per cent is not just a number; it is actual lives saved,” he said.
A similar study in Sydney from their St Vincent’s Hospital released in November 2015 showed a decline in injured people coming to their emergency rooms as lockout times were made earlier.
“So what I am asking on behalf of the Queensland Law Society is that all Queensland parliamentarians not merely look at the conscience, but look at the results that have occurred in other jurisdictions,” he said.
“Why don’t they grab the nettle and give us laws that will actually improve results.”
The current government proposed closing times – introduced on November 8, 2015.
- Two different sets of closing times.
- One for the 15 “entertainment” precincts around the state; i.e. Brisbane City, Fortitude Valley, Surfers Paradise and Cairns. Another for suburban clubs and hotels.
- Inside the entertainment precincts: Last drinks at 3am. People cannot return to a nightclub or hotel after 1am.
- Outside the entertainment precincts: Last drinks at 2am; an hour earlier.
- Source: Queensland Government:Chief executive Doug Flockhart – one of 18 people who helped shape the previous government’s Drink Safe Precinct legislation said reducing alcohol sales from 5am to 3am in entertainment areas will make a difference.”Given this, Clubs Queensland calls on all members of the Queensland Parliament to support this change in due course.””If I put my operators’ hat on, when you do the math; when you look at the increased risk, the security costs, the staffing costs verses turnover – I would be very surprised if you were honest about the math – that anyone made any money between 3am and 5am.Mr Potts said the reality was licensed clubs and hotels need to have a greater role in preventing violence.”And the cost of these people staggering out in the middle of the night assaulting people is not born by the licensees, but by the families who suffer the loss of young lives and by we, the taxpayers, who have to police it and support a hospital system that has to fix the all-too-often broken lives that are pushed through our emergency sections.”Acting Premier Jackie Trad says Labor is pushing ahead with its lockout laws, which will make most venues serve last drinks at 2am.Ms Trad wants bipartisan support but shadow attorney-general Ian Walker has flagged possible changes to the laws.”There’s a lot of talking yet to be done, the LNP is open to any proper discussion with the government about a way that we can fix this dreadful problem,” he said.
- The Parliamentary Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee is examining the government’s lockout legislation and is due to report back to parliament on February 8.
- Shadow Attorney General Ian Walker told reporters the LNP is open to negotiation on the issue.
- “If you reduce the number of hours in which alcohol is served in the early hours of the morning, you reduce the number of people who are harmed,” she said.
- However in Sydney, where closing hours have been made earlier; while violence has been reduced, the “foot-traffic” through nightlife areas has also been reduced.
- “The nightclubs fill these people up with alcohol and send them out into the middle of the night,” he said.
- “And between 2am and 3am? Not really.”
- Mr Flockhart said little alcohol was sold after 2am in any venue.
- “Which is why we also support a reduction in trading hours to 3am in safe night precincts and to 2am in all other areas across the State,” Mr Flockhart said.
- Clubs Queensland – who represent around 1000 community clubs in Queensland – said the Queensland Government should move quickly to pass its proposed legislation.
Story By: Brisbane Times 6th January 2016