LOCKOUT LAWS A $50M DRAIN ON WORKERS
Written on the 18 February 2016 by Karen Rickert
CONTROVERSIAL legislation around alcohol-fuelled violence will threaten Brisbane's entertainment ecosystem to the tune of up to $50 million, according to an industry board.
Under Labor's new laws passed in Queensland Parliament this morning, last drinks will be called at 2am or 3am for venues within safe night precincts from July this year. Shots or drinks with a high-alcohol content will be banned after midnight.
A 'one-way door' policy at 1am for venues will also be introduced in February next year, in a bid to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence in the streets.
Figures compiled by Our Nightlife Queensland show Brisbane's entertainment industry supports almost 6000 jobs across 135 venues and generates $173 million in revenue annually.
The introduction of the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Bill will potentially impact 1760 jobs in the city at a cost of $48.4 million to the local economy each year.
Established early last year, the industry group represents people across the state who rely on licensed venues and associated industries for their livelihood.
Our Nightlife Queensland secretary Nick Braban says the legislation won't just restrict revellers, with a number of hospitality businesses going to be affected.
"As businesses look to cut costs and operate under significantly different trading conditions, security and cleaning contractors are going to be areas to reduce budgets," Braban says.
"The ability of transport providers and taxi drivers to get a certain amount of fares each night will be constrained as trading hours are reduced.
"If there's a downturn in consumption of food, beverages or entertainment, that flows through to suppliers, musicians and DJs, wholesaling companies, delivery businesses - the list goes on."
Braban says the policy has been developed with 'very limited' industry input in comparison to the former government, which met with industry groups regularly and conducted extensive public consultation.
The laws will operate for a trial period of 18 months following a recommendation to Parliament; however Braban says the damage is done during that time.
"The concern is trading patterns will definitely change and rationalise when trading-hour reductions and lockouts are brought in," he says.
"But in that period we'll destroy the small business set, young people and entrepreneurs who have made a living doing this.
"Interesting venues that we're starting to see in Brisbane will disappear because they don't have the capital base or trading history to ride out what could be a 12 or 24-month adjustment.
"We don't have much faith in government trial periods, because they are really tied to the electoral cycle. The 18-month trial period brings us to the next election and then we have to start this all over again."
The laws were given the green light earlier this week, after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk struck a deal at the eleventh hour with crossbench North Queensland MPs Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth.
In what is widely seen as a parochial backflip, Katter and Knuth agreed to support the bill in exchange for mental health funding and local issues in Mount Isa and Charters Towers.
Amendments also include banning drug offenders from safe night precincts and delaying the 1am lockout from its original timeline of July until next year.
Palaszczuk says the agreement demonstrates the government's commitment to curbing anti-social behavior, while also highlighting the importance of mental health resources.
"The evidence is clear; reduced trading hours leads to reduced violence and that's what this Bill delivers," she says.
"Doing nothing is not an option. I've spoken to countless doctors, nurses, paramedics, police, parents and grandparents who have urged me to take action to curb alcohol-fuelled violence.
"I want Queenslanders and visitors to our state to go out and enjoy our state's vibrant nightlife but I also want them to return home safely to their families and loved ones."
The news follows overwhelming community opposition to the legislation, with a petition on Change.org attracting almost 13,000 signatures.
Federal Member for Brisbane Teresa Gambaro says she created the 'Fight Against Labor's Lockout Laws' campaign after being contacted by a number of constituents.
"I started the petition because I felt that someone needed to take a front foot against the legislation," Gambaro says.
"If you go through the comments left on the petition, the people who are signing it aren't doing it so they can stay out longer. They are signing because they are worried about the direct impact Labor's laws will have on their own jobs.
"This is all without any guarantee lives will be saved. What is certain though, is that jobs will be lost and a $435 million industry will be decimated like it was in Sydney."
What alternatives should the government explore?