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Queensland lockout laws pass: sale of alcohol after 3am to be banned

Queenslanders won’t be able to buy booze after 3am from July.

The state’s minority government was able to pass its contentious lockout laws in the early hours of Thursday morning with the support of the Katter’s Australian Party MPs Rob Katter and Shane Knuth.

The changes mean there will be a 2am last-drinks call statewide from July 1, with venues in nightclub precincts able to serve alcoholic drinks until 3am.

Shots and other rapid consumption drinks will be banned after midnight.

The government was able to secure KAP’s support after agreeing to concessions and several amendments to the legislation.

One of those was to rule that a 1am lockout meant to combine with the 3am call for last drinks for nightclub precincts now won’t be imposed until February 1 next year.

There will now be a crackdown on drug users in nightclub precincts and a review of the laws in 2018.

The two KAP MPs were also able to secure a government commitment to tackle unemployment and look into investment opportunities in their electorates, and to set aside funding for rural mental health in the next budget due in June.

Mr Katter made no apologies for KAP squeezing what it could out of the government for its votes.

“We have our priorities and the government have theirs – we have been able to reach a position that we feel is a compromise for both sides of the argument,” Mr Katter said.

The attorney general, Yvette D’Ath, opened the debate on Wednesday afternoon by paying tribute to those who inspired the law change.

“I stand here today to honour those who have lost their lives, those who have endured serious injury through alcohol-fuelled violence,” Ms D’Ath said.

“[And] their families, their friends, their work colleagues who will never be the same because of these violent incidents related to alcohol.”

The shadow attorney general, Ian Walker, countered by saying the government could not rely solely on emotion to promote its laws, arguing there wasn’t enough evidence to indicate they would reduce rates of violence.

“As legislators, emotion is not enough, and while emotion has to motivate us and direct us in our thoughts, it’s the head that has to rule when we look at legislation,” Mr Walker said.

More than 40 MPs from both sides of parliament spoke in the debate before the laws were passed.

The changes are likely to attract some community opposition, just like the reaction to similar laws in NSW.

The lobby group Out Nightlife Queensland has already labelled the laws “draconian”, saying they will cost jobs and business.

This article first appeared on ‘The Guardian’ on 18 February 2016.



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