By Ian Neubauer
The Victorian Government has extended a freeze on new late-night liquor licenses until next year and is considering a range of new measures to prevent alcohol-related violence following a series of weekend brawls at or around licensed premises that left more than a dozen injured.
“These are licenses that go beyond 1:00am,” the ABC reported Premier John Brumby saying. “We froze them last year, and are freezing them again until the end of the year.”
The most serious incident took place on Saturday (Mar 21) night outside the QBH nightclub in Southbank and saw dozens of people using bottles to attack security staff.
The QBH has been the scene of two fatal assaults since 2007, with owner Bruce Mathieson admitting on Radio 3AW the venue is perceived as a “beacon of violence”.
A few hours later, violence also erupted in Elizabeth Street when police used capsicum spray on a bottle-throwing mob of 100, with a third brawl involving bottle throwing also erupting in Merriman Lane, the Sun Herald reported.
The use of glasses as weapons in all three incidents has prompted renewed calls by police for their banning at late-night venues.
“It’s about time the late-night entertainment industry took a look at itself and removed all glass from the premises after 11:00pm,” the newspaper reported assistant commissioner Gary Jamieson saying. “This will go on and on forever if they don’t do it themselves.”
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle suggested a more radical solution— an end to large-format venues known colloquially as ‘beer barns’.
“Maybe we have to look at these very large venues and say maybe the days of the beer barns are over,” he said. “When you get 1000 or 1500 people in one spot and you mix that with alcohol and aggression, you are going to get a dangerous and violent outcome.”
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