"We cannot punish all of society with ineffective laws"
Queensland-based Liberal MP Teresa Gambaro has initiated a Change.org petition rallying the state's citizens against the Labor government's planned changes to existing lockout legislation.
The petition — which is addressed to the Qld government as well as its premier and Arts Minister, Annastacia Palaszczuk, as well as the Employment Minister and Labor member for Brisbane Central, Grace Grace — asserts that the proposed modifications "will not effectively reduce violence in Brisbane, but … are guaranteed to destroy jobs".
"The concerns of business owners and patrons alike have fallen on deaf ears."
According to Gambaro, "up to 6000 jobs and $150 million" are in the balance as the Palaszczuk government continues its protracted efforts to usher through new state-wide lockout conditions that will essentially see shots and cocktails off the menu after midnight, with venues forced to close their doors at 1am, and pubs and nightclubs following suit at 3am.
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"As State Member for Brisbane Central and Minister for Employment, Grace Grace will oversee one of the biggest job killers in Brisbane ever enacted by legislation," the petition reads. "The concerns of business owners and patrons alike have fallen on deaf ears in her office.
"But you can help. By signing this petition, you are sending a direct message to the State Government that these laws should not pass. We cannot punish all of society with ineffective laws, when there is only a small minority responsible for the abhorrent violence."
"[Venues] have a responsibility to provide a safe environment, why isn't the Queensland Government doing the same?"
The petition has swiftly gathered momentum among the Qld nightlife industry, particularly in the south-east of the state. Crowbar owner Trad Nathan was quick to sign against the lockout laws, explaining that his venue has been without violent incident for four years.
"Before opening or even managing a venue, we are all trained to deal with any incidents we may encounter," Nathan wrote when signing. "All of our staff have and practise their RMLV and/or RSA, we have fire marshals responsible for the venue, security who comply with laws and keep the safety of patrons, staff & the venue as top priority, our staff are trained in first aid, we assist people getting home when needed, amongst many other risk management protocol[s.]
"[T]he issue is we don't see any of that happening on the streets where the fights and violence occur. Where are the Police & Security walking & protecting the streets of the Valley that have 50,000+ people through every Friday and Saturday night? We have a responsibility to provide a safe environment, why isn't the Queensland Government doing the same?"
Nathan's criticism of safety on the streets in the Valley comes fresh in the wake of the case of Cole Miller, the 18-year-old man who died in hospital after an alleged one-punch attack in the precinct.
However, rather than focusing on the issues raised by Nathan, or the endemic culture of violence at the root of Australian society, the government and its supporters, such as Minister for Mines and Natural Resources (thus obvious nightlife expert) Anthony Lynham, have maintained that limiting operating hours and trapping people outside is the way to go. Lynham even referred to anti-lockout campaigns among members of the late-night economy as little more than "fear-mongering".
"You are only putting more people at risk by locking them out."
This is, it should be noted, the same guy who claimed the revisionist lockouts would be a "great day for mums and dads out there, a great day for our kids", because parents and young children are the groups we should be worried about pleasing when it comes to a city's nightlife, apparently.
Nathan, however — and several others who have signed the petition citing their place in the hospitality or entertainment industries as reason enough for them to oppose the lockouts — doesn't see it that way.
"Our licenses continue to increase, I'm fairly certain we are one of the highest taxed industries also … again the Government punishing the wrong people," Nathan continued in his comment. "You are only putting more people at risk by locking them out.
"Over 700 bands play my venue every year — all original touring local, national and international artists. We keep music and art alive in a safe community; don't blanke low-risk/incident-free venues and bars because other venues aren't practising the correct regulations and the safety on the streets is substandard.
"So support the arts, arts minister."
The petition has, at the time of writing, gathered more than 900 signatures and counting, with a solid 500 of those coming within the past four hours.