Independent & Katter Party MPs Move To Block Qld Labor's 1am Lockout Plans

26 October 2015 | 11:43 am | Staff Writer

Far North MP Billy Gordon & Katter Party members Shane Knuth & Robbie Katter will vote down the government's proposed changes

Queensland's Labor government is facing an uphill battle to win support for its long-advertised plans to roll forward the state's venue lockout and closing times after controversial far-north Qld Independent MP Billy Gordon and Bob Katter's Australian Party members Shane Knuth and Robbie Katter advised they would vote the motion down.

As Sky News reports, Gordon has said he has engaged in broad consultations, including with police, regarding the proposed changes to lockout and closing times —  which would see the city's nightlife closed in at 1am and shut down at 3am, rather than the existing respective cutoffs of 3am and 5am —  and was not satisifed that the introduction of earlier shutdowns would yield a positive — or positive enough — result, especially within the tourism-heavy region of far north Queensland.

"I don't think there's a lot of evidence to support this type of legislation being implemented in far north Queensland, particularly in Cairns," Gordon said. "I don't see why we need to start … putting in place legislation that may have, I think, dire economic consequences."

According to the ABC, Knuth and Katter echoed Gordon's sentiments — "We do have his support, which means we have the numbers to block it so this is more or less impossible for them to get these laws over," Knuth said — and expressed concern that any change to existing nightlife venue operating hours would negatively impact the area's trade.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

"As an example, Redcliffe Leagues Club, 35,000 members, hardly have any incidents but they will have to tell their members that they can't go in at 1am even though some of their mates are still in there," Knuth said. "We just find that ridiculous."

"We have been listening to many people right across Queensland and we believe they should not punish clubs that are doing the right thing," he continued. "There are known problem spots like the Valley and the Gold Coast, and why should every hotel across Queensland be punished and suffer as a result of a few?"

However, as the ABC reports, the government remains optimistic about its ability to ensure its proposal passes, with minister Shannon Fentiman acknowledging the "concerns from the crossbench" while affirming "we're going to continue to work with them" to reach an agreement.

"This is a government that is about listening and consulting," she said. "We'll continue to work with every member of parliament to make sure we get this policy through. It's about keeping Queenslanders safe."

The government's continued commitment to the policy comes despite the release of recent statistics showing that there is no evidence that earlier lockouts in Queensland would have any significant positive effect on crime and antisocial-behaviour.

"Assault rates this low are still not being seen in places like Sydney and Newcastle, despite harsh trading-hour restrictions," Our Nightlife Queensland secretary Nick Braban said at the time.

"We have got it right in Queensland, and we should keep doing what has worked for our state over the past 10 years."