GET OUT: Venue owners in the Airlie Beach Safe Night Precinct feel they are being left out of the lockout law debate.
GET OUT: Venue owners in the Airlie Beach Safe Night Precinct feel they are being left out of the lockout law debate.

Locals fight lockouts

THE lockout law debate has once again reared its head, with the Queensland Government revising its proposal in an attempt to make good on its election promises.

The new plan would see last drinks called at 2am, as opposed to the 3am last drinks and 1am lockout originally on the cards.

However, venues in the state's 15 Safe Night Precincts, such as Airlie Beach, can apply for an extension to 3am - but only if they impose a 1am lockout.

"Which is pretty much forcing clubs hands to go back to the first plan, which they don't like anyway," Safe Night Out Committee Airlie Beach secretary Jasmin Lear said.

The change will also see planned ID scanners scrapped - one of the few items in the original proposal supported by SNOCAB.

Ms Lear said there had been a lack of dialogue between the government and industry groups in altering the proposed legislation.

"I'm not saying we haven't talked to them, but they haven't responded to any of our concerns and they haven't given us any funding (to try alternative strategies)," she said.

"They just keep going with this silly little idea, this silly compromise that isn't even really a compromise at all."

Ms Lear also took aim at Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath's comments in the media late last week, in which she claimed patrons could still drink coffee and play the pokies.

"Your little places like Phoenix, Mamas and Boom; they don't have those facilities, so you're going to be losing jobs and losing hours," she said.

Airlie Beach Hotel general manager and SNOCAB management committee member Mark Bell agreed.

"Unfortunately, as we know with a lot of laws brought into effect and enforced, they affect 99.9% of the public because of the 0.1% of people who do the wrong thing."

Mr Bell said the lockout scheme could in fact see overcrowding on the main street, as opposed to the current ebb and flow.

"I've been to the nightclubs here at 3am and seen them full, at 4am I've seen them half-full and close to closing time there are 20-25 people," he said.

"So there's every chance that this could create more problems for the government, let along starting to improve things."

The local stakeholder group has instead tried to reduce violence in other ways such as shuttle buses, CCTV cameras and information programs.

"And we want to be able to apply for funds, but this government hasn't opened those (funding) rounds," Ms Lear said.

The proposed start-date is July 1, 2016.


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