Beginning June 3rd, people will not be allowed to enter licensed venues in the CBD after 2am. Existing patrons will be allowed to remain on licensed premises until 7am or the end of the venue's allocated liquor license - whichever is earlier. Further, no new liquor licenses will be approved for venues hoping to open after 1am.
Victorian Premier John Brumby says the binge-drinking problem justifies such a move when he announced these restrictions yesterday as part of a three month trial in inner-city pubs, clubs and bars. He also announced a $17.6 million Liquor Licensing Compliance Directorate to be established within the Department of Justice. “This directorate will be responsible for the inspection and enforcement of liquor license laws and will be staffed by 30 inspectors and six lawyers,” Mr Brumby said. It is believed the directorate will also employ underage patrons to test age restrictions at venues.
The move comes from implementations of late entry bans in Ballarat, Warrnambool and Bendigo were successful, according to the Government, seeing a reduction in alcohol-related crime.
The reaction from Police has been positive, with Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon embracing the moves. "We know the majority of alcohol related violence occurs on the streets as people move from venue to venue, not in the actual venues themselves," she said. According to the Herald Sun, VicHealth boss Todd Harper said the reforms were the most significant in decades.
Brian Kearney, from the Australian Hotels Association, tentatively supported the lockout, with the provision that lower-risk venues be excluded. The Director of Liquor Licensing has advised of some exemptions from the lockout, and that these will only be granted to restaurants, the Crown Casino floor and licensees with full club licenses such as RSLs.
The public reaction has been intense with newspaper websites getting hundreds of comments and several new groups and events on Facebook appearing including "OFFICIAL MELBOURNE 2AM LOCKOUT PETITION, sign up and send to everyone" and "I will party on Parliament House steps in protest against the 2am curfew". The latter tells members "by joining this group you pledge that If the 2am curfew comes into effect, you will leave the clubs, bars and pubs at 2am and protest on Parliament House steps every single friday night until the curfew is lifted." MelbournePubs.com has launched a website, 2amlockout.com, monitoring the discussion around this issue.
Source: Victorian Government, The Age 1, 2, 3 & Herald Sun.