Drink Safe Precinct Trial

29 Sep 2011 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs a question on the subject of Queensland's Drink Safe Precinct trial.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In August last year, the Bligh government introduced the Drink Safe Precinct program, which was a package of measures aimed at improving alcohol-related violence associated with late-night licensed venue precincts, specifically in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Townsville.

The measures included a whole range of things which this government has not done, including:

•increased and high visibility police presence during peak times;

•the establishment of safe zones for patrons to access non-government support services;

•improved transport information and way-finding signage;

•addressing issues such as crowding and footpath queuing; and

•better on-the-ground coordination between community groups, security, police and licensees.

As a result of the year-long trial, Premier Anna Bligh has declared this week that, while drink safe precincts actually work, 'The research on lockouts has got pretty mixed results,' and she will consider lifting the 3am lockout on licensed venues. My questions to the minister are:

1.Will she look at the evidence from the Queensland drink safe trials and its application in South Australia?

2.Will she now admit that her approach to alcohol-related violence in our state was completely flawed?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Public Sector Management, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for Gambling) (14:30): Absolutely not. I thank the honourable member for this question and the opportunity to set the record straight: that is absolutely and categorically no.

In respect of the particular trials the honourable member refers to, I am happy to look at the evaluation of those trials and how they equate to activities in our industry here. I am more than happy to look at that. We are always monitoring and assessing new ways of doing things and new activities, in particular research going on not only in other jurisdictions but also internationally. It is important we keep an eye on those things and learn the valuable lessons that others might be able to show us and to assess the value of them and the relevant application of those measures to this state. We are always willing to do that. I have done that in the past and will continue that practice in the future.

It is outrageous to suggest that this government has not been extremely committed to reducing alcohol-related harm, particularly around our licensed premises and particularly in our entertainment areas, where we know the higher rates of alcohol-related incidents occur. It is outrageous because, in terms of policing, around 12 months or so ago—give or take a bit—police numbers around the CBD and the Hindley Street area increased considerably. They are always monitoring that and ensuring that we have adequate policing in that area.

This government has record achievements in terms of funding and increases in our police numbers—the highest numbers ever—and we continue that commitment. We have unprecedented numbers of police out on our streets and doing other policing activity, including on the APY lands, where we know that the former Liberal government had no police. We have put police there, and I understand that we now have two Aboriginal police on the lands as well. Back to the point—

Members interjecting:

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: The question went to policing and our lack of commitment to policing, so it is relevant. It is just not so at all. As part of our reform agenda that recently passed through this place, the police indicated again a further commitment to ensure there were safe policing numbers, particularly around our entertainment precincts.

Members interjecting:


The Hon. G.E. GAGO: We have put forward a raft of really important reforms, both legislative and regulatory—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The Hons Mr Wortley and Mr Ridgway should stop mumbling to each other.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: —both in terms of the legislation that passed through this place and the code of conduct that is almost completed. It includes things like the very important reform of ensuring that the liquor commissioner is able to readily apply conditions to liquor licences, which gives a much greater degree of flexibility to the commissioner. It includes things like the ability to put conditions on, for instance, the concentration of alcohol in a single drink after a certain hour, the use of glass containers, and the requirement to have extra security or extra cameras.

There is a whole raft of measures. We also looked at moderating things like drinking competitions and other activities that promote rapid, excessive drinking, and moderating behaviour around happy hour, to ensure that people can enjoy a cheap drink but that it is done in moderation.

As I said, there is a raft of measures, including a commitment for extra funding to increase the number of managed taxi ranks around the CBD. That not only helps improve safety for party revellers but the taxi industry is also very supportive of them because they make their life much easier. As I said, there is a raft of measures that I am convinced will make a significant difference to safety on our streets, particularly in terms of alcohol-related incidents.

I am very proud of the commitment of this government, and I am very proud of our track record. It is a moving feast, but we will not rest on our laurels. We will continue to look at ways of advancing further measures to ensure that people who want to enjoy a night out are safe and try to minimise or reduce the adverse effects of excessive alcohol.