The Queensland lockout laws are toast. The government this evening abandoned its plan to introduce a 1am nightclub lockout in Queensland’s entertainment precincts, reversing one of its signature policies.
The lockout was set to begin next week. Instead, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the introduction of ID scanners in safe night precincts such as Fortitude Valley from July 1. Club owners proposed the system last month as an alternative to the 1am lockout. It will upload ID data to a secure government database to keep track of problem patrons.
The lockout laws were the second part of two-stage liquor laws designed to combat alcohol-fuelled violence. They followed initial rules introduced in July which banned rapid consumption shots and shooters as well as introducing 2am last drinks for venues outside of entertainment precincts and 3am last drinks for venues inside the precincts.
Cabinet today considered a report into the effectiveness of the measures that found no noticeable drop in assaults or hospital presentations due to the laws (although there has been a continuation of the general downward trend in nighttime assaults and ambulance callouts).
Also, there had not been a single weekend since July where all venues in Fortitude Valley had ceased serving alcohol at 3am — a result of venues supposedly running a roster on the one-off late night permits that allowed them to serve until 5am on a set number of nights throughout the year. These permits will now be reduced from 12 to six, with the criteria that dictates their use tightened to prevent abuse.
The news follows word earlier today that the lockout laws would be on the agenda for the first Cabinet meeting of the year, with Palaszczuk already telling the Courier Mail this morning that the key measure of the laws was aways the last drinks reforms. “The signature component of my government’s policy is in place,” she said. “Other measures are seen as supplementary or complementary.”
This was echoed by Development Minister Anthony Lynham tonight, who was one of the most vigorous supporters of lockout laws. “I’m happy that we are sticking with our firm policy that the 3:00am last drinks stays … lockouts are a supplementary part of this," Mr Lynham told the ABC.