Queensland’s ‘Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Legislation Amendment Act’ 2016 comes into effect today, already softened pending “whether to proceed” as licensees call OLGR’s bluff.

From 1 July, 2016, all licensed venues statewide are required to cease trading at 2am – with the exception of approved ‘Safe Night Precincts’ (SNPs), which are eligible for 3am closing. No lockout applies to either group.

From 1 February, 2017 this “transitional” period posed in the Act, intended to ”provide licensees time to determine their preferred operating model” ends, and SNPs without approval roll back to a 2am closing time, but still with no lockout. Approved SNPs may continue trading until 3am, but a lockout applies and no new patrons can enter after 1am.

The SNP system was a legacy of the former Newman Government, and sought to engage licensees in the solution process through the formation of licensee Management Committees, which work with the Safety Committee to enact recommendations. They require seven licensees to incorporate, subsequently forcing all licensees in the precinct to join.

The legislation also requires the formation of SNPs to enforce the requirement of ID scanners to be operated and maintained at their venues from 10pm, irrespective of actual closing time.

Licensees from late-night trading precincts gathered recently with regulatory authorities including OLGR executive director Mike Sarquis, and voted resoundingly (40-4) to shun involvement in the SNPs and accept the blanket 2am closing time from today.

Speaking to PubTIC, owner of Fridays and chair of Brisbane CBD Liquor Accord Nigel Kilvington said it was a bad deal that would see licensees footing the bill of the witch-hunt to stamp out a problem that wasn’t there.

“CBD Licensees voted to overwhelmingly reject incorporation of an SNP Board in full knowledge what this would mean. They consider this a better outcome to incorporation,” said Kilvington, who rejects suggestions business owners are only in it for themselves.

“CBD licensees and licensees across the state have been participating actively for decades, and it is offensive to suggest that they are not interested in matters of public safety.”

This and other pressure on the Palaszczuk government also saw regulators recently back off with plans to force ID scanners, announcing a delay of at least a year.

“We are closer to finalising the details in relation to the banning of rapid-intoxication drinks after midnight and determining whether to proceed with the implementation of mandatory ID scanning,” said the Hon Yvette D’Ath MP, Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Minister for Training and Skills in an OLGR bulletin.

The ban on “rapid intoxication” drinks has proceeded today, and includes the usual inclusions:

  • drinks served in a small glass or container (shooters, shots, bombs, test tubes, jelly shots)
  • drinks prepared on the premises that contains more than 45ml of spirits or liqueur
  • pre-mixed drinks (RTDs) containing more than 5 per cent ABV or two standard drinks

Cocktails are exempt – ironically, if they are promoted and priced on a drinks menu.

Venues not complying risk fines of up to $12,190.

But rapid intox drink rules don’t apply to casinos, and Kilvington echoes NSW licensee cries of unfair play.

“Licensees are incensed by the exemption of casinos, particularly as QPS data identifies the casino as the problem hotspot,” he stressed.

“Licensees see nothing but hypocrisy in this and have always maintained, ‘if it’s so good – we should all do it’.”

Given the pending report in NSW by the Callinan Review, Kilvington hopes the incumbent Labor government will heed lessons learned and bring the legislation in line with public thinking.

“Most licensees want 3am close, no scanning, no lockouts and a level playing field,” says the BCLA chairman.

“And all have noted that 2017 is an election year.”

Safe Night Precinct snapshot_OLGR

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