The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (15:38): I rise to strongly oppose any proposed lockout of bars and clubs from 2am or 3am. At the outset, I indicate that this is my personal view which does not purport to represent the view of my party. Ministers Gago and Holloway attended the recent Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy meeting. The Joint Communique stated:
“A key outcome was the agreement to assist late-night lockouts from licensed premises based on analysis across the nation of existing and trial lockouts to recommend a preferred framework.”
It is clear from statements by the Rann government and Police Commissioner that they are considering the introduction of a compulsory lockout. In The Advertiser recently on 24 May Greg Kelton ran a headline ‘Pubs face binge curfew’, stating:
“Early morning lockouts from bars could be enforced nationally as part of a unified political pledge to combat binge drinking. Federal, state and territory governments have agreed to work together on the plan… Police Commissioner Mal Hyde said, ‘Extended licensing hours contributed to public nuisance and public safety concerns. We should be looking at ways to limit 24-hour access to alcohol’.”
This proposal is a knee-jerk, ill-conceived, unworkable and unfair proposal which is part of a nanny state policy-making mentality. Again, a majority of young people who happily enjoy themselves in clubs and bars are going to be penalised by a small minority of troublemakers and governments and politicians wanting to be seen to be doing something about the issue of binge drinking. For many young people, two o’clock or three o’clock in the morning is not late and they enjoy themselves at bars and clubs until 5 a.m. and not returning to their homes until breakfast time at seven or eight o’clock in the morning. Young people these days are different to win people of our generation were at that stage. They do not go out in many cases until 11 or 12 in the evening on weekends and, as I said, they do not return until the sun is up for breakfast and then you do not see the until the early afternoon on Saturday or Sunday.
The proposed lock-out will potentially create even more problems as young people locked out after 2 o’clock will instead remain on the streets of Adelaide and visit cafes or fast food outlets which will still be open. Many of these young people in Adelaide will not go home at 2 o’clock, they will stay with their friends on the streets, as I said, finding other venues and avenues in relation to seeking their entertainment on a Saturday evening.
If young people are locked in after 2 o’clock in some of these venues it will mean that they will not be able to leave a venue to take an intoxicated friend safely to a taxi or, in the case of some young men, to take a young female friend to a taxi to see them safely there to go home, and then to go back into the venue, to have a cigarette, visit an ATM or to take a telephone call, because in some of these clubs and venues you cannot hear anything on a telephone.
It also means that if you have got a friend in another venue at 4 o’clock in the morning who says, ‘Hey, get over to the Vodka Bar’ instead of the Electric Circus (or whatever), you will not be able to go over there to join that friend. There are people who move between the clubs, like the Vodka Bar and the Electric Circus at the bottom end of Hindley Street, freely on a Saturday night as the crowd ebbs and flows in those particular places.
It will mean that when concerts or functions finish at 1 o’clock many young people will not be able to get into clubs and bars in the city by 2am, especially when some venues have queues which might delay entry for up to an hour. There are many cases where if you go to the Earth Club, for example, in Hindley Street a band might be performing until 2 o’clock in the morning and then the young people, having heard their favourite band, will then move on to another venue like the Electric Circus or the Vodka Bar or something like that.
It will also mean that shiftworkers, including hospitality staff and others, who work in our cafes and restaurants and finish work at 1 o’clock or so in the morning, will be restricted from going to clubs and bars themselves after they have finished work. This policy will make Adelaide a laughing stock. Can you just imagine visiting performers and clubbers like the Foo Fighters or Justin Timberlake, depending on your musical preference, following their shows here in Adelaide, trying to visit a club like Escobar at 2am in the morning and being told they are locked out? It would not happen in New York or most other locations around the world.
In Victoria the Brumby Labor government this week introduced a 2am lockout and there have already been mass protests of more than 3,000 people, as well as legal action to overturn the decision. There also exists an online Facebook group, titled ‘Official Melbourne 2am lockout petition’, of which there are almost 30,000 members, highlighting the unpopularity of the proposal.
Now is the time for opponents in South Australia to organise and oppose and make it clear to the Rann government that they will not accept a lockout and that alternative more effective measures to combat the effects of excessive drinking are adopted. This government will not listen on any issues unless it is hit over the head with the baseball bat of mass opposition, so now is the time for action.