In Trade Restriction by Clyde Mooney

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The Queensland Government is weighing the need for Stage 2 of its scheduled ‘lockout’ laws, despite patrons continuing to make the news for bad behaviour.

On 22 December, just two days before it closed for good as a pub, a bloodied man was arrested for antics outside the Cairns Courthouse Hotel.

The clearly intoxicated man was filmed by a bystander chasing and grappling with other people on the footpath, wearing no shirt and with blood covering much of his head and neck. The cause of his injuries and grievance was unknown, but police quickly arrived and took him into custody.

Of greater concern, a mentally unstable patron set fire to a number of poker machines in ALH’s Royal Hotel, in Beenleigh, just south of Brisbane.

Queensland Police report that last Wednesday (4 January) 21-year-old Blake Jones spent time in the Royal, before returning several hours later and dousing the pub’s 40 EGMs in petrol and setting them alight.

The initial report said all machines were destroyed, due to fire and chemical exposure, but the Hotel has since clarified only three were damaged (beyond repair) by the fire.

All patrons were evacuated, and no-one was injured in the incident.

Jones appeared before Southport Magistrates Court the following day in a white hospital gown.

Police allege that in the weeks prior to the arson attack, he had threatened to “kill himself and others”.

Magistrate Gary Finger denied Jones’ bail application, noting the decision was not based on his one prior conviction, but that “He should be in custody for his own protection”.

Disappointingly, Monash University gambling researcher and vocal anti-pokies advocate, Charles Livingstone, was quick to blame the machines, despite Jones’ prior treats of harm.

“While we have these have high powered machines taking lots of people’s money, then these sort of incidents will probably continue,” he told the Courier Mail.

Meanwhile, ahead of an interim report into the first six months of its alcohol restrictions, Queensland’s Government has tipped that the introduction of Stage 2 may not be necessary.

Remaining focused on its goal to reduce alcohol-related harm, while avoiding the pitfalls of tightening trade restrictions as seen in Sydney, acting Premier Jackie Trad says Government will weigh the results of the report and “make a decision in the interests of Queenslanders based on the Queensland experience”.

The second stage, slated to begin 1 February, would involve 1am lockouts across the State. Several Queensland Ministers have voiced their concerns for the blanket rules, and pushed to either delay or veto the second stage completely.

Outside the Courthouse Hotel, 22 December, 2016