All of us want to live in a safe and violence free society. Well, most of us. There are always exceptions. Maybe you are a sociopath who gets off on this kind of thing. But if you have ever been punched in the face you would agree that it sucks. And for those of you who enjoy assaulting your fellow man you can go ahead and give yourself a big pat on the back. You are the cause of Queensland’s lockout laws and the demise of fun.
Queensland will soon introduce a 1am lockout and a 2am last drinks call for all bars, pubs and clubs. This will be staggered over the course of 12 months to make sure people don’t totally flip their shit in the meantime. So starting from July last drinks will be called at 2am but in the 15 entertainment precincts last drinks will be called at 3am. By February next year there will be a 1am lockout introduced and the old heave-hoe will be called at 3am. Although, believe it if you can, casinos will be exempt from this law.
How this came about is the problem of drinking related violence. This problem has turned into a political issue and is perfect fodder for political band standing, much like the introduction of the alcopop tax in 2008, a quick revenue raiser disguised as a way to curb our “binge drinking culture”. Almost every independent study since shows no change in the rates of binge-drinking, underage drinking, and alcohol related violence. Some even present that the rates of incidences have worsened due to a shift towards heavier spirits being consumed since the tax was introduced. On the plus side it does generate almost a billion dollars a year in revenue.
So how did the lockout laws happen?
Political posturing. Well, to be more precise, a politicised tragedy. Cole Miller, 18, was assaulted and killed by two 21-year-old males while out in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane’s party district. This is the reason the one-punch-can-kill campaign has been a legitimate force for good since its introduction after the king-hit death of 15-year-old Matthew Stanley in 2006.
This tragic and random act of violence should have created some serious dialogue about our culture of violence, youth violence, and just why sometimes people decide to beat the shit out of each other in this country. This will be news to no-one, but people do violent things to each other, often without any alcohol; we are just jerks like that sometimes.
But it is utterly perplexing that these lockout laws are the supposed solution to curb violence and assaults. It is a band-aid solution and ill-conceived. It’s like watching your dog piss on your rug and then deciding the best solution is to stop giving it water. As so often is the case the loudest voices are also the biggest jerks. And so many jerks work in politics.
Thus enters Bob Katter – the worst piece of garbage since the invention of garbage. The lockout laws were set to die until this empty headed Stetson wearing wunder-douche decided to support the legislation in return for support on his list of demands. So the lockout laws were passed at the last minute and now a bunch of middle aged self-satisfied idiots can feel like they accomplished something good as they drink wine (probably a delicious bribe) while watching a shitty Friday night movie at home.
Here is the problem. One of my favourite things about Brisbane is it’s live music. The past few years have been a renaissance period. There have been new venues, amazing bands, great and late nights of music. The laws will cause bars to close and the music to go away. These bars are a business and like any business they need to make money and to reduce their trading hours will be devastating. But that won’t matter to the people who don’t go to see live music, our elected representatives who only represent their own interests.
Now picture the scene. It is 3am and every bar shuts their doors and kicks out all their revellers. There is a bum rush to the cab ranks, of which they are very few, and if you do manage to get a cab you get to enjoy an expensive shit stinking ride. Brisbane bus services are a disgrace and trains don’t run that late. And Uber, the only reliable service, is illegal. So you have a mass of people, drunk, unable to get home, unable to go to a bar, frustrated and irritated and all condensed to one small area. It’s a melting pot and clearly very genius and well thought out thinking.
But remember, you can always go to the casino.