In this week’s instalment of citizen journalism, Chalk Hotel general manager, Jason Titman, calls on Government to take tough action against individuals who assault staff or other patrons on licensed premises.

Chalk Hotel’s primary foundation has and always will be the safety and enjoyment of our patrons and staff. I think this is the case for virtually all licensed operators throughout Australia.

Unfortunately there are a small number of individuals in the community who have no respect for other patrons safety or the effort and money venue operators put into their venues. Nor do these anti-social individuals see the current criminal penalties as enough of a deterrent.

The handling of the issuing of Section 98 “Show Cause Notices” to 70 Queensland hotels was an example of some of the worst Government in action.

It is my understanding from the sidelines that the NSW Government has also acted in a very similar and inappropriate manner with respect to this topic.  On October 5, 2009 the Premier of Queensland presented to Parliament Legislation which in essence banned regular glass in licensed premises that had experienced a ‘glassing’ on their premises in the last 12 months.

• This Legislation was presented without prior consultation with industry;
• There is no clear definition of what a “glassing” actually is. The Queensland Government can’t even tell operators if bottled products satisfy the definition of safety glass. Not to mention the fact they have spent the past seven years endorsing education campaigns on ‘drink spiking’ encouraging patrons to consume from bottles rather than the traditional open glassware.
• Despite the fact the Law, Justice and Safety Parliamentary Inquiry had not even handed down its interim findings;
• Despite a 190 page Report (partly funded by the Queensland Government) “Understanding Glassing Incidents on Licensed Premises: Dimensions, Prevention and Control” by the Griffith University found that “Glassing assaults in Queensland are rare”.
• The Government legislated to take away the industries right to appeal through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
• Those issued with the Notices were given less than 60 days to comply.
• The Legislation was due to come into effect 1 December, just before the industries busiest trading period.
• It was subsequently established that some venues on the list had not even had a glassing and there were others in Brisbane who had glassings but were not on the list.
• Subsequent action by some operators in the Supreme Court has found the Government acted outside reasonable grounds and without sufficient evidence. 

The Chalk Patron Commitment which is placed at each of the hotel’s three entrances

Unfortunately, banning glassware in licensed premises will not reduce assaults on licensed premises. ‘It is not the glass that does the glassing’.  What next?  Are we going to ban V8 Commodores because someone is injured driving one?  Ban bridges because some people jump from them?  The pendulum has swung too far! 

Chalk Hotel together with the rest of the industry want to work with Governments and Police around Australia to ensure our patrons are safe but dealing with the hospitality industry like this is not going to produce the best outcomes for the Community. Management of Chalk also understand everyone needs to consume alcohol in a responsible manner. We believe a higher focus needs to be put on the obligations, responsibilities and accountabilities of individuals and their behaviour and are seeking to:

• Have Government pass a law banning anyone found guilty of an assault on licensed premises for 5 years from entering any licensed premises in Queensland and a minimum fine of $10,000.
• Ensure the Government share this information so that offenders and high-risk patrons are put on a statewide public database to be accessed by all licensed venues.
• Have the industry self regulate around this platform and within 12 months ensure all venues trading post 12am install ID scanners linked to this database.

It is Chalk’s hope that our decision to take civil action sends a clear message to those who condone this behaviour – we will not tolerate this behaviour and if you threaten the safety of our patrons or staff it will result in both legal and civil action being taken. We are hoping that other licensed operators throughout Australia will join with Chalk in encouraging all State Governments to adopt the above three measures and also decide to take civil action against individuals who assault other patrons on their premises.”

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The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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