By Andy Young, editor TheShout
Queensland minority Labor government has successfully passed its Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Amendment Bill after securing the support of the Katter’s Australian party MPs.
The new laws mean that from July Queenslanders will not be able to purchase alcohol after 3am. Last drinks will be called state-wide from 2am, while venues in designated nightclub precincts will be able to serve alcoholic drinks until 3am.
A 1am lockout will also be imposed on venues, although that will not come into place until February 1, 2017.
Our Nightlife Queensland secretary Nick Braban was understandably disappointed with the outcome, highlighting that the industry was ready and willing to accept reduced hours and labelling the lockout as a “bad policy”.
“This is a disappointing outcome for Queensland,” Braban said. “Not just the South-East, but our regional cities as well. Jobs will be lost, businesses will close, musicians will struggle for gigs, and youth unemployment will sky rocket. Confidence in the sector will plummet, investment will disappear, and jobs will go, whether lockouts begin now or in a year’s time.”
The new legislation will also see the sale of shots and “rapid consumption drinks” banned after midnight.
In the run-up to yesterday’s vote Nick Westenberg, public policy and government relations manager with Diageo Australia questioned the merits of banning the sale of single spirit shots.
“Despite scientific evidence showing there is no greater risk from spirits versus any other type of alcohol, the Bill seeks to restrict the sale and service of spirits,” Westenberg said last month.
“These restrictions are complex, unfair and disproportionately targeted at certain consumers, particularly regional consumers. Yet there is no evidence to suggest that such restrictions would have any impact on reducing violence. To suggest that violence is caused because a consumer is drinking a Bundy and Cola rather than a beer just doesn’t make sense.
“The restrictions simply target some consumers based on their preferred drink, their income, and in effect, their geographical location.
“We believe that in addressing violence, the focus should be on those troublemakers who commit violence, rather than on penalising the majority of Queenslanders who drink responsibly.”
Queensland’s attorney-general and minister for justice Yvette D’Ath welcomed the laws, saying: “This is about putting the safety of our kids and all patrons first. It is about driving cultural change and we will continue to work with the community and stakeholders to deliver these important reforms.”
D’Ath also said that the laws will be independently reviewed after two years, in July 2018.