Publicans react to Queensland’s mandatory ID scanning
Mandatory ID scanning was implemented on July 1 by the Queensland Government for licensed premises in Safe Night Precincts (SNPs) that traded after 12am, in the weeks leading up to the significant change for venues, Australian Hotelier spoke to some operators to find out what the implications are of this new policy.
There were some very real concerns from hoteliers, and other stakeholders involved, with many operations having to rethink their trading hours our fork out significant amounts of money for a mandated technology that many believe brings its own sets of problems with it.
Nick Kalaf, owner of the Criterion Tavern in the Brisbane CBD SNP, has some real misgivings about the new mandatory ID scanning policy. His first concern is how it will affect his trading hours, which were fluid mid-week.
“The Criterion Tavern is licensed until 3am Monday to Saturday, with a midnight close on Sunday. We now qualify for ID scanners to be used Monday to Saturday if we trade past 10pm on those nights. Monday to Thursday we can close just before 10pm or just after, depending on activity or events that take place around the CBD. Most of the time we don’t pre-determine what time we shut on those nights – we allow the business and turnover to make that conclusion on any given night.
“Now we need to factor in the possibility of 10.30pm closes and the potential of having a Security guard present in the venue to man the ID scanner. Security companies charge a minimum of 4 hrs and only licensed security are allowed to man or supervise ID scanners. These are also nights that we don’t need security as we are a low-risk venue.”
For many of the smaller venues, this new policy is a real blow. Many venues have decided that reducing their trading hours will be less of a financial blow than staying open late and having to implement the scanning technology and additional labour costs.
Fritzenberger, the micro-brewery pub on Caxton St, is on such venue. Director Andrew Jeffreys has decided to shut the venue a little earlier in response to a mandate that he believes makes no sense for his venue and many others.
“To avoid the unaffordable operational costs of ID scanning we have surrendered our late-night trading license and scaled back to midnight from 1 July. With over half of our sales in food we are by no means a high-risk venue. For us and our customers it makes no sense to scan the ID of someone coming in for a burger and a craft beer at 10:15pm.”
Jeffreys also rues what the new policy will mean for Brisbane’s nightlife.
“As a corner site on Caxton St we are the gateway to one of the state’s premier entertainment precincts, and unfortunately we now closed at 12am. We have a restaurant in Kings Cross, Sydney and have seen how mandatory scanning and lockouts have decimated the economy and vibrancy of an area and it is really sad that Caxton Street and other late night precincts across Queensland will suffer a similar fate.”
As one of the biggest pubs in any of the SNPs, The Caxton will not be changing its trading hours, but has grave concerns about mandatory ID scanning. General manager Alex Farquhar spoke to Australian Hotelier in early June, right after attending an OLGR seminar on the ID scanners. The session did not leave him reassured about the policy.
“The state-wide implementation of ID scanners will be nothing short of a nightmare. It is an ill-conceived policy that has been hastily rushed through by ill-motivated bureaucrats, at the detriment of the entire hospitality industry of Queensland. As my Dad said in this morning’s meeting with OLGR, ‘I have never been so worried about any policy in the 20 years I have been at The Caxton Hotel, than I am about this.’”
For more reaction to the mandatory ID scanning in Queensland, see the July issue of Australian Hotelier.