By Ian Neubauer
Thomas Hotels CEO John Franks has called for legislation relating to alcohol-related violence that targets consumers in the coming Industry Leader’s Forum issue of Australian Hotelier magazine.
“We are confronted with endless rules and regulations, but there are no rules changing policing or targeting consumer responsibility,” Franks said. “We constantly go around the edges when trying to achieve a reduction of alcohol-related violence [yet] we have seen virtually no change in legislation relating to violence that is directly targeted at the consumer. There are a lot of issues wider than the responsible service of alcohol.”
The outspoken NSW publican and former chairperson of the Sydney City and Kings Cross Liquor Accords suggested troublemakers could be targeted via a clause in the 2007 NSW Liquor Bill that states police can penalise individuals who are aggressive in trying to seek entry to a licensed premises after being refused.
“We need to cement how and when that infringement can be issued if someone misbehaves according to the legislation. Nothing would lead to a greater level of reduction of alcohol-related violence than clarity of enforcements, funding for the education of the public on the new section and the fines involved,” Franks said, adding that refusal of entry is the number one cause of violence at bars and clubs.
Franks’ sentiments were echoed today by AHA President, Mick Burns, who is pushing for a centralised system where people who commit violent acts in one bar are barred from all licensed premises.
“Communities are no longer willing to tolerate violence around licensed premises and we want zero tolerance on violence,” Burns told The Sydney Morning Herald. “If they’re banned from one pub, they’ll be banned from all.” He said the system is already being tested in Darwin where pubs are using shortwave radio to ensure intoxicated persons kicked out of one pub don’t walk into the next pub to cause more trouble.
A spokesperson for the NSW Minister of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, said regulations are currently being drafted for new offences to reduce anti-social behaviour.
“It will be an offence for a drunk, violent or quarrelsome person who has been refused entry or ejected from a licensed venue to attempt to re-enter the premises or remain in the vicinity of the premises,” the spokesperson said. “On-the-spot-fines of $550 apply for each offence, with maximum court penalties of $5,500.” The spokesperson said the regulations would fall under the new Liquor Act that will come into effect in mid-2008.
A complete transcript of Frank’s comments — along with those of 37 other industry figureheads — will appear in the Industry Leader’s Forum issue of Australian Hotelier. The issue is scheduled for national distribution in the second week of February.