By Triana O'Keefe, editor – Australian Hotelier

Over the past few years, the controversial lockout laws have changed the nature of late night trading across Australia.

Introduced to combat alcohol-fuelled violence, the laws impose a ban on entering the premise and a cessation of service after nominated times.

The government has heralded the laws as a deterrent to violent and anti-social behaviour. In reality, venues across the country have suffered financial loss, with a number of operators closing their doors for good.

In 2008, the Victorian Coalition opposition proposed the introduction of a 2am lockout after a series of violent alcohol-fuelled incidents, some of which had been filmed and broadcast by the media.

Premier John Brumby cited the “Ballarat model” as the basis for the inner-city Melbourne lockout after the regional town reported a drop in assault and hospital admissions by 40 per cent.

It soon became apparent the night life economy and late night trade of an urban city centre operates very differently than its regional counterpart. 

After three months, the Victorian government lifted the lockout policies and instead called for an innovative risk-based licensing scheme, a review of the late night public transport services and an increased police presence.

In 2014, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell introduced similar lockout strategies following reported success of the “Newcastle model”.

A review of the imposed lockouts has been scheduled for 2016 despite media reports suggesting the NSW State Government was considering an early review.

More than 12 months on from the introduction, a detailed analysis of police data suggests there has been a reduction in crime rates and alcohol-related offences throughout the Sydney CBD. However, a number of venues have fallen victim to the reduced trading hours and restrictions.

Similarly, a recent announcement from the owners of a major venue in Adelaide has blamed the state’s 3am lockout laws (imposed in October 2013) for its closure.

Most recently, the Queensland Government has reaffirmed plans to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence by imposing its own lockout laws.

The Shout Team

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

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