Friday 9 April 2010

2am club lockout proposed for Cairns city

The Queensland Government is out of touch with the needs of Cairns' visitors, as it proposes a 2am close down for our inner-city entertainment precinct.

Most mayor cities around the world have few restrictions for opening hours to encourage international visitors to enjoy the city night life.

An inquiry into alcohol-related violence, prepared by the Law, Justice and Safety Committee, has just been handed down. No Cairns or Far North Queensland-based MP serve on the committee.

The Government is canvassing opinions online on six of the recommendations handed down in the parliamentary inquiry, which follows a spike in reported assaults and public violence across Queensland, especially in regional tourist centres like Cairns.

Of most criticism is the proposals to further restrict opening hours. It is believed that a 2am curfew proposal, will further curtail violence. The Queensland Government wants a 2am lockout to apply to all licensed venues. The report recommends standard trading hours be 10am to midnight, with the maximum hours for bottle-shops be 10am to 9pm.

Chair of the report committee, Springwood MP Barbara Stone, says that alcohol-related violence is a broad and complex issue, that countries around the world are having to tackle.

"It can take on so many forms including domestic violence, sexual assault and violence in our Indigenous communities," Barbara Stone says.

Stone says that the industry has endured a large number of changes over a short period of time, in many cases it has lead the way with change.

"It is hoped that this inquiry will bring back balance in respect to community expectations, recognising the liquor industry is an important part of the local economy. It is with this balance in mind that the trading hours in the report have been recommended," Barbara Stone said.

The report only focuses on alcohol-related violence around licensed premises.

Feedback is being sought if venues in special entertainment precincts like inner-city Cairns, should close no later than 2am Sunday-Thursday and 4am Fridays and Saturdays. It also seeks opinion about venues outside special entertainment precincts in suburban areas, and recommends close no later than 1am Sunday-Thursday and 3am Fridays and Saturdays.

The survey asks if venues trading after midnight, should install ID scanning and CCTV monitoring systems, and if Police and the courts should be given power to ban those committing alcohol-related offences from specified areas.

A total of sixty-eight recommendations have been made in the report, however the further restriction of a 2am curfew, has angered many Cairns folk.

"We need to fight this if we want our nightlife to stay vibrant and alive," Jesse Kuch editor of Cairns timeOUT says. "The government is having problems with tourism, yet they want to shut one of the biggest reasons to be here [party] even earlier. The mind boggles at how closed-minded and short-sighted the Government are when proposing the early lock out."

A State-wide "Reclaim the Nightlife" campaign is now underway to reject the reduction in trading hours. They are also on FaceBook.

Queensland Locked Out is a citizen’s lobby group formed in protest against the proposal of the lockout and shutdown policy.

"We are the patrons reclaiming our nightlife and we believe the lockout is over-legislation and a short term political fix to the problem of alcohol violence," says spokesperson Zach Salar. "It is the result of a failure to adequately plan for growth in population and demands. We cannot afford to be apathetic about this and we need to vote."

The campaign organiser say that independent reports have pointed to the lack of clear data on the growth of crime as a result of alcohol.

"Media reports of an increase in street violence fail to take into account increases in population or the increase in demand for entertainment areas such as the Fortitude Valley or CBD areas," Zach Salar. "There is little scientific evidence to show that the use of alcohol increases the propensity to cause violence; rather concluding that a person who is already aggressive or violent may be more likely to act violently after consuming alcohol."

What is the lockout / shutdown?

A lockout is a declaration that says nobody may enter licensed premises after a certain time, even if you have already been inside that venue.

Currently, Queensland has a 3am lockout and a 5am shutdown, introduced in 2006. Despite several reports showing that the lockout has not worked, the Government and Police are looking to introduce further restrictions where the lockout will be brought back to 12am and all venues shut down at 2am (the enquiry is considering shutdowns between 2 - 4am with lockouts between 12-2am.)

  • You can make your views heard on the survey, only available for one week, until Friday, 16 April.


Blogster said...

Thanks for letting us know, Mike. Will certainly submit my views.

Very few cities have to battle this problem because in very few cities people behave the way do here.

Until people are held accountable for their own actions nothing will change.

First step: stop blaming the licencees.

Paulbe said...

Between anxiety about street crime and violence, fear of driving because of zealous enforcement of a drink driving limit that sees a sniff of beer putting you over, long, prohibitively expensive taxi rides from increasingly distant suburbs, a 2AM lockout is already slowly enforcing itself. Its seems cheaper and safer to stay home, and let the life of a society whither as we all isolate ourselves in our little safety cells.

Rights for Tasers said...

Frankly, if something isn't done to curb the inner city violence, the tourists just won't bloody come. Go ahead with the lock-outs and give the Police rights to use the TASER, only combine the taser with a video and recording camera so that any taser action can be accounted for. Shouldn't be too difficult to do. The images taken from the video camera can be sent immediately to a central point and stored for court action if required. Jail time doesn't deter a certain type of aggressive scumbag; we can only try a good tasering. A classic case where the taser should have been used was on those Innisfail thugs who deliberately called in the Police to do them mischief. We have arrived at a cross-roads I think, where tougher measures are required otherwise young punks will continue to openly challenge the law.

Eve Seruelas said...


What: Protest
Start Time: Today, 08 April at 19:50
End Time: 16 April at 23:55


brad m said...

Those thugs in Innisfail and many of the gang bashings and attacks around the city lately have not be alcohol related.
Individuals should be accountable for their actions, venues (and staff) should be accountable for responsible service of alcohol breaches. Police and courts should have the right to ban people from all venues. Add mandatory ID checking on entry (as long as details are secure and there is regulation)


Lockout only causes grief and anger at the door. Earlier closing would cause an earlier start to drinking (in the current environment) so all you achieve is bringing all the same issues earlier in the night? Doesn't seem sensible to me.

hieronymus bosch said...

I'd be happy to see venues close at 10pm. If you are unable to get blind and act like a jack off by then, well, sorry you are just forced to act like a responsible citizen. Trial it for a month, if the violence etc isn't significantly curbed, then make it open slather. Make it mandatory that every drink gets a free speed ball, valium and a funny yellow pill.

KitchenSlut said...

An interesting post today in the SMH from noted social researcher Hugh Mackay. No, it is not a Cairns only problem and there is much evidence based research.

The research quoted from this link from my own home town:

"The recent Newcastle experiment in which 14 pubs adopted earlier closing hours has attracted the attention of anyone who is worried about the rise in alcohol-fuelled street violence or concerned about Australia's reputation as the country with the highest rate of serious assault in the world. (Yep, world champions, according to a 2004 survey published in The Economist.)

The results of the experiment are staggering: a 30 per cent reduction in cases of street violence. The normally unflappable Don Weatherburn, the director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics, said he was "stunned" by the results and keen to see the measures extended.

He predicts this one measure, if extended, could see the first reduction in this state's serious assault statistics in more than 20 years."

This is not the only such evidence with a previous well referenced academic study showing that most street crime resulted from a small number of larger venues. Lets face facts Cairns will never be Sydney or New York and all night trading will necessarily mean venues in all the wrong demographics?!

When i first came to Cairns 20 years ago we were a far bigger backpacker party town than now with (?) a 3am closing time on venues? Does anyone seriously not come to Cairns because they can't drink at a public venue until 5am?

Is it just that I have grown older or is the atmosphere on the streets more aggro and less party? Whatever it is certainly a turnoff for me a a city dweller!

The large venues through the AHA have been politically influential in all states with both parties. Federal and state laws are both analy bureaucratic when it comes to alcohol.

Venues can't advertise binge specials but everyone knows to go to Bella Vista or Shennanigans to get blind fast at 2 for 1. At the same time under the same advertising provisions last year a venue couldnot promote beer in German sized beer steins for Octoberfest! Which is the bigger threat?

If I go to an event at Tanks the security goon will tell me at interval I can't take my plastic glass outside and stand under the stars, within compond walls, in one of the most magnificent settings in FNQ because of licencing laws. Bureaucratic nonsense with nothing to do with any social problems.

If I go to the UK I can get alcohol in supermarkets and in France in any corner store yet as the article linked above seems to indicate it is we who are world leaders in alcohol related street violence!?

The anachronistic laws which protect the structure give pub owners the rights to bottle shop outlets in Qld. The dominant players here are Woolworths and Coles who have most of these outlets in Cairns (Dan Murphy, FirstChoice, BWS, Liquorland)who push volume in each basket as a business model. If you want to buy a wine cask (not me) you are restricted as to when you can buy (to restrict social costs)at the same time as this is the most tax advantaged alcohol product under Federal law and cheaper in some cases than water. This is mooted to have been addressed in the soon to be released Henry tax review.

Personally as a city dweller I think the old 3am close (dont stuff around with lockouts)was adequate and opponents to restrictions are just vested interests who really matter little and frankly their patrons matter bugger all for Cairns economy and tourism. I doubt that comprehensive reform of alcohol laws to support cultural change will happen anytime soon sadly!

Dutchie said...

Bring in the 2am lockout, watch the nightlife crumble, tourists disappear and the uncontrollable parties in the suburbs rise.

Jan from Kewarra said...

I find it incredible that our forces on the front line of alcohol fuelled street violence (police, doctors and nurses) are now everyday being seriously hurt "just doing their jobs", yet their case is being swept under the carpet by governments and the trouble makers in favour of not reducing the opening hours, which have been steadily increasing. Not long ago, there was a sign up over the pub on the corner of Lake and Spence, wanting opening hours on weekends to 5am? Does anyone know if they got approval?

If something is not done and soon, we will not have any police or nurses willing to put themselves on the front line and on the receiving end of all this violence and after all, no amount of pay would compensate for having limbs broken, jaws broken and teeth knocked out, head injuries etc. Would You? I certainly would not!

And whilst all this is going on, the good residents of Australia cannot get a police car to come or get emergency dept treatment in a timely fashion, because these front liners are too busy dealing with self inflicted drunkedness and sheer stupidity.

Something must be done about the length of opening hours in a bid to curb excessive drinking and the bad behaviour that seems to now go hand in hand with this phenonomen and and to return our city precincts to safer places.

nocturnal congress said...

I'm coming from 1973.
Me and my mates have all been turfed out of "The Club" in Shields Street. The licensee himself personally escorted us out the door. "The law says I must close at 12 midnight!" he boomed.
After falling in a heap down the stairs, we all huddled in a group outside on the footpath.
I felt for my car keys.
Then a gut wretching, hateful, piercing voice penetrated the fogs of alcohol. "You grab those car keys mate, and I'm gunna nab you!"
I looked up and saw about a dozen big cops, all leaning on the bonnets of their cop cars. Funny, they all looked exactly the same.
Well, we all stood there, staring, then in a huddle moved around the Shields Street corner to Weekaways Surgery in Abbott St where there was a Black and White cab rank.
We threw the girls in the cab, and leaned on the posts there waiting for the next cab to arrive. I thought I would just sneak around the corner to get my car.
Suddenly all the dozen cops were there again. "Where you think you're going, hey?" roared that hateful, loud, gut curdling voice.
"Shhhhargeant, shhirrr..." was all I could say, my voice suddenly full of spittle.
"Get in there dickhead!" said the hateful voice as I went spinning into the backseat of the cab which had just pulled up.