Watered down lockout laws will have little effect here
WITH the Palaszczuk government potentially considering easing back Queensland's controversial lockout laws, businesses in Gympie say the pressure the laws place on patrons could actually lead to more trouble than they solve.
As it stands, the Gympie region will remain relatively unaffected by the next phase of the plan, which was originally scheduled to come into effect in February.
The new restrictions, which would include a 1am lockout for all licensed premises, would only apply to 15 designated Safe Night Precincts around the state - which does not include Gympie's CBD.
"We were able to trade till 4am over the holidays, and honestly the crowds were so well behaved,” says Royal Hotel owner and operator Stacey Lowe.
"I'm sure part of that has to do with everyone being in good spirits at the end of the year, but I honestly think the longer hours go a long way as well.”
Without the pressure of a looming cut-off for drinks, Ms Lowe argues, there was less of an inclination or pressure on patrons to "load up” before the bar closed.
A policy of barring seriously intoxicated visitors and a robust list of banned customers has also gone a long way to reducing incidents at the Royal.
Ms Lowe, who admits to dreading the end of the year, instead found she was pleasantly surprised at the lack of dangerous behaviour.
"When you have people singing along to the live music at three in the morning instead of causing trouble, you're doing something right,” she says.
"I genuinely believe the problem starts in the bigger areas, like in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.”
It's a sentiment shared by other proprietors around town.
After opening Club 88 late last year, owner Paul Pilkington says he was glad the full brunt of the laws had little effect on his business, noting pubs and clubs in smaller communities like Gympie attracted less trouble.
"I've been really pleasantly happy with how things have gone for the club so far,” he says.
"There are incidents like every other place, but it's generally only the one person looking to make trouble.”
The real problem, Mr Pilkington said, could be found in the areas between venues.
Without the presence of security guards, patrons who were heading home or between venues were more at risk.
"From my own experience, that's where you'll find the majority of the trouble - people with nowhere to go after being barred entry,” Mr Pilkington says.
"I don't think the Gympie night life is particularly dangerous, but once patrons leave the premises, we are unable to provide the same level of security.”