In 2016, 18-year-old Cole Miller died in a one-punch attack in Fortitude Valley. Soon after the state of Queensland introduced common-sense limits to alcohol availability in nightlife. This included rules to stop alcohol sales in licensed venues by 3 AM and mandatory use of ID scanners in nightclub precincts.
The measures were independently reviewed by Labor minister Anthony Lynham. The review report was released recently. It analyzed data between 2016 – 2019 and found:
- There was a 49% drop in assaults between 3 AM and 6 AM on Friday and Saturday nights,
- including a 52% drop in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley precinct.
- The measures had no adverse impact on tourism businesses.
- The measures did not shift alcohol-fuelled violence to other areas.
The review report made a series of recommendations to further improve the safety of people and communities. The government plans to support or partially support 22 of the recommendations and will not support 16.
Among the recommendations supported are:
- Distributing lists of banned patrons to all venues that operate after midnight.
- Reviewing alcohol and other drugs safety education in schools.
The recommendations rejected by the state include:
- Close all venues at 3.30 AM.
- A two-year moratorium on new liquor licenses.
- Changes to the liquor act that would place the burden of responsibility on venue staff to ensure patrons were not alcohol intoxicated.
- Impose trading hours restrictions on casinos.
- Introduction of an alcohol floor price (minimum unit price), similar to the one introduced in the Northern Territory.
This list shows that the Queensland government is not willing to act on the evidence brought forward by the review and further improve protective measure for nightlife participants.
A minimum unit price (MUP) such as in NT can further prevent and reduce alcohol harm in Queensland. NT’s MUP policy led to dramatic decreases in alcohol-related harm, ambulance call-outs and car crashes as per a review of the policy. The review found:
- A 23% reduction in alcohol-related assaults across the Territory in 2018/19 compared to the same period in 2017/18;
- A 17.3% reduction in emergency department presentations in the NT in 2018/19 compared to the same period in 2017/18.
- Reductions in,
- assault offenses,
- protective custody episodes,
- ambulance attendances,
- emergency department presentations,
- road traffic crashes, and
- number of child protection notifications, protection orders, and out-of-home care cases
The Queensland government is rejecting the recommended MUP measure and several other measures to “strike a balance between minimizing alcohol harm and the need to reduce the regulatory burden and financial constraints on the hospitality and tourism sector”.
This talking point applies alcohol industry framings to successful policy solutions that are protective measures of people and communities.
In fact, the alcohol industry has had no issues maximizing profits during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a Roy Morgan analysis, in 2020 the alcohol industry made $15.6 billion in retail sales, which is a 26.7% increase in 2019.
The government has compelling evidence supporting alcohol policy improvements that prioritize public health and safety over private profits of the alcohol industry which fuel massive harm.