Solution was reached through apparently thorough non-consultation with the community
Despite an assertion only a couple of weeks ago from Independent MP Billy Gordon that he and fellow politician Shane Knuth would move to strike down the Queensland government's proposed 1am lockout legislation, the Labor Party is nonetheless expected to table a tweaked — and objectively confusing — version of the laws in Parliament this week as part of their continuing efforts against alcohol-fuelled violence.
The legislation amendments — which are not intended as a compromise to appease Gordon and/or Knuth, according to The Courier-Mail — see Labor move from a previously stated goal of implementing a 1am lockout and 3am closing time across the board to instead support a state-wide 2am last-drinks policy, apparently with no lockout requirement. However, nightclub precincts around the state would be able to apply for an extension of hours in order to serve last drinks at 3am — but in that case, they would also have to adhere to a 1am lockout (or "one-way door policy", as it has been optimistically rebranded).
Either way, punters would be given about half an hour to finish their last drinks, with The Courier-Mail suggesting the Office Of Liquor & Gaming Regulation will be focusing efforts on preventing binge-drinking and exploitation of service at final call.
"You won't know whether you're going to a venue that ceases trading at 2 o'clock or if you're a 3 o'clock venue that in turn locks you out at 1 o'clock."
As shadow attorney-general Ian Walker explained to the ABC, the apparent pick-and-choose nature of the legislation — which also presumes innate familiarity with the state's specifically designated entertainment precincts — leaves Queenslanders with some pretty convoluted regulations on the table to potentially come into effect on 1 July 2016.
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"You won't know whether you're going to a venue that ceases trading at 2 o'clock or if you're a 3 o'clock venue that in turn locks you out at 1 o'clock," Walker said. "This policy is so confusing that you will need an app on your phone to tell you what venue you're going to, what the rules are — when you drink there."
Additionally, Walker criticised the proposed laws as being too narrowly focused, and said that they fail to address several key areas of concern including drug use, Safe Night Precinct policing levels and drug & alcohol education.
Local nightlife activist group Our Nightlife Queensland echoed Walker's sentiments, with secretary Nick Braban accusing the state government of failing to consult with the community throughout its developmental processes, as well as reaffirming the outfit's argument that the state's already-falling assault rates indicate that further regulation isn't necessary or helpful at this time.
"Today we have seen a convoluted statement from the government, simply rehashing a policy which has no support from varied stakeholders across the state," Braban said. "An 11th-hour deal has been done with one sector of the hospitality industry, completely ignoring pubs, live music venues, small bars and nightclubs."
"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," Braban continued. "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."
"Exemptions and concessions are already being canvassed, casinos are excluded, and suburban clubs and pubs don't trade that late anyway. The legislation already has too many ifs, buts and maybes."
Fellow nightlife-safety watchdog Just Let It Go — a harm-prevention charity launched in honour of violence victim Bruce Steensen — also slammed the laws, with foundation director Simon Turner criticising the existing exceptions and perceived loopholes while suggesting alternative strategies to achieve more positive outcomes for late-night party-goers.
"This proposed law isn't for our state, and won't apply to everyone across the state," Turner said in a statement. "Exemptions and concessions are already being canvassed, casinos are excluded, and suburban clubs and pubs don't trade that late anyway. The legislation already has too many ifs, buts and maybes.
"We want to see funding released so Just Let It Go can continue to work with industry to design and deliver better outcomes for young people. Relocating taxi ranks, providing free wi-fi at the ranks, developing the capacities of rank attendants, [and] better communications between clubs and ranks are just a few simple yet potentially highly effective measures to improve entertainment precincts and reduce the risk of harm to young people."
Among the finer details of the proposed legislation remain the government's insistence on banning the sale of high-alcohol, rapid-consumption drinks (i.e. shots) after midnight; that premises can say open "beyond 2am" (or 3am for lockout-approved venues) to serve food, non-alcoholic drinks or provide entertainment; and venues will be able to apply for "up to 12" different special permits a year to extend their trading hours on special occasions.
Regardless, Labor minister Anthony Lynham celebrated the proposed laws, championing them as a practical means to reduce the state's 30,000 annual hospitalisations due to alcohol consumption, and describing it as a "great day for mums and dads out there, a great day for our kids."