The Queensland government has backed away from some of its proposed liquor legislation after a backlash against the harsh restrictions.
However, industry and community groups have again slammed the state government for failing to consult with them.
This week the Queensland attorney-general, Yvette D’Ath, announced the plans that will be introduced into parliament.
The measures include:
- Last drinks at 2am State-wide.
- Safe Night Precinct local boards being able to apply for approval for venues to continue selling alcohol until 3am, provided they have a 1am one-way-door policy.
- All venues throughout the State being able to remain open beyond 2am (or 3am in approved Safe Night Precincts) to serve food, non-alcohol beverages and to provide entertainment.
- Banning the sale and supply of high-alcohol content and rapid consumption drinks, such as shots, after midnight.
However, the attorney general denied the accusation that the changes have only been made as a result of trying to gain the approval of two Katter Party MPs and independent Billy Gordon.
“This is a comprehensive package that gets the balance right,” D’Ath says. “It allows our licensed venues to continue to trade under their existing hours so people can enjoy Queensland’s entertainment and nightlife at the same time as dealing with alcohol-fuelled harm in the early hours by calling last drinks at 2am.”
According to Our Nightlife Queensland secretary, Nick Braban, the proposals have come without any meaningful consultation with industry and other community groups involved in the management of entertainment precincts across the state.
“Today we have seen a convoluted statement from the government, simply rehashing a policy which has no support from varied stakeholders across the state,” says Braban. “An 11th hour deal has been done with one sector of the hospitality industry, completely ignoring pubs, live music venues, small bars and nightclubs. We are astounded that the Government is willing to sacrifice small business and the jobs of young Queenslanders in order to protect the pokies industry – it’s an utter disgrace.”
Obvious flaws in the plan have been pointed out by the Just Let It Go Foundation, a harm prevention charity in Queensland. A statement from the group says that plans will simply see more intoxicated people on the streets, which will potentially cause the issues that the laws are supposed to be preventing, namely alcohol fuelled violence.
“The assaults are occurring on the streets, not in clubs themselves,” says Foundation director Simon Turner. “We need to reduce the time young people spend on the streets. By doing this we effectively reduce the risk of harm.”
He went on to point out that the proposed lock out of young people would only increase the time they spend on the streets and only increase their risk of harm, as well as failing to address the social behaviours that are the root of the issue.
Braban also makes the point that there is a grave risk of killing off the nightlife in Queensland, in the same way as similar laws have done in other states.
“What’s being put forward by the Government will kill our entertainment precincts as it has done in Sydney, because young people will fail to see the value in coming. It simply won’t be worth their time or money. We hope that the Government has a plan for the displacement of people partying in the suburbs, however, we are certain they do not. We also hope they have a plan for all the Queenslanders who will lose their jobs and livelihood from this, but again we are certain they do not.”