Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that she is favour of earlier closing times for nightclubs and bars in the state. This is to bring down alcohol-related violence. The premier said her stand is in sync with the positions of the general public as well as her own party caucus.
The premier’s comments came ahead of the parliamentary committee report on the Tackling Alcohol-fuelled Violence Legislation Amendment Bill. It will come up for debate in the house when it resumes sitting on the third week of February.
Under the new laws, Queensland’s alcohol-serving venues have to stop serving alcohol by 2:00am, or at 3:00am with a 1:00am lockout, reports ABC News.
However, some reports suggest that many non-government MPs and Labor’s Member Rob Pyne are having concerns on the new timings. But Palaszczuk said Pyne had expressed his favour for the curbs. “My caucus is of the firm view that we must do this to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence,” Palaszczuk said.
The Queensland premier ruled out any compromise on the proposed legislation. Noting that the laws have been put to the parliament and are in the final stages, the premier said, she does not expect any major changes.
Meanwhile, LNP spokesman Ian Walker said the opposition is not convinced. “There’s hard evidence being produced to the parliamentary committee. That’s what we want to look at, not a poll of 300 people,” he said.
In an interesting turn, LNP’s federal leader Teresa Gambaro, launched an online petition against the earlier closing times. Her family has been running a hospitality business for many decades. According to Gambaro, the lockout laws would not stop violence. It would only put 6,000 jobs in jeopardy. She also said her family has no financial interest in the hospitality business.
Joining the issue, Queensland’s police commissioner Ian Stewart, called for urgent measures to curb excessive drinking. Addressing a press conference on Monday, the police boss said the proposed changes in Queensland’s liquor laws are welcome. He said NSW-style lockouts for pubs and clubs can curb drunken violence in the state. The police chief said tougher drinking laws should be backed up with education programs, reports News.com.au.
Concerns were up following reports of escalating violence linked to alcoholism. Recently, a female police officer was attacked with a bottle by a group of teenagers who were on a drunken binge in Southbank. In December, an 18-year-old girl, Cole Miller, was punched to death in Fortitude Valley.
But observers say that the government’s proposed curbs on drinking hours will not last. This is because it will have to unveil liberal booze laws for the conduct of 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.