QLS supports move to scrap lockout laws

Queensland’s peak solicitors’ body has backed the state government’s proposed scrapping of nightclub lockout laws and opts for a more measured mandatory digital screening process to identify potentially problematic patrons.

Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth said it was encouraging to see the Queensland Cabinet was considering policies other than increasing prison terms as part of mooted lockout legislation.

“I firmly believe steps which prevent serious injuries and deaths as a result of drunken violence in and around licensed establishments is a much greater outcome for all Queenslanders instead of increasing punishment,” Ms Smyth said.

“As a society I think it is important we must do everything we can to prevent the loss of lives, rather than focusing on society’s retribution after someone is killed or maimed.

“Experience from other Australian states shows that lockouts can substantially reduce the rates of assault, and can be an effective part of the solution to prevent more tragedies.”

“The very last thing drunken patrons are thinking of in the middle of the night is penalties for their bad behaviour. Rather than concentrating on deterrent penalties which do not work, the much better approach is prevention.”

However, she said any other strategies – such as proposed use of digital screening technology to identify problem patrons – was a vastly greater outcome than limiting the legal rights of members of the community.

The Queensland Law Society believes that evidence-based laws which concentrate on prevention are always better than laws based on retribution and punishment after the event.

The comments follow this week’s Palasczuk Labor Government’s Cabinet vote to scrap the proposed 1am lockout laws in favour of mandatory ID scanning in nightclub precincts.

It is understood the decision was as a result of an interim report six months after the introduction of liquor reforms.

The report found there had been no notable reduction in alcohol-fuelled violence in the wake of drinks service restrictions  introduced on July 1.

“The current evidence suggests the introduction of lockouts is not likely to significantly change current trends,” the report said.

Queensland Law Society more than a year ago made a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, and continues to advocate on this important issue.