A recommendation to restrict casino opening hours in Queensland as part of efforts to tackle alcohol-fueled violence has been rejected by the state government.
The state’s casinos “already operate under a significant level of scrutiny” and have more security than other venues, the government said, in response to an assessment of its alcohol abuse policy.
“The government also considers that the abolition of 24-hour trading hours would be inconsistent with the government’s plans to create a ‘new global city’ for Brisbane,” the response filed on Wednesday reads.
Star Entertainment is at the center of a major development at Queen’s Wharf in Brisbane.
The government’s position has not changed since its interim response in 2019, when it said it would look at ways to engage casinos in the management and security of safe night zones.
A recommendation to close all secure overnight venues at 3:30 a.m. was also not supported.
“The government is not convinced that closing all late-sale venues… at 3.30am, after alcohol service has stopped at 3.00am, would be an appropriate regulatory balance,” he said.
Key government policy measures include changing liquor sales hours from 5 a.m. to 3 a.m. in secure night areas and mandatory ID scanners for a large number of venues.
“The report shows there was a 49 per cent drop in the number of serious assaults between 3am and 6am on Friday and Saturday nights across Queensland,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“Significantly, there was a 52% reduction in these assaults in one of the most popular neighborhoods in the state – Fortitude Valley.”
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Ms Palaszczuk spoke about the death of teenager Cole Miller from a punch in 2016.
“It was the very definition of a coward’s punch, Cole fell to the ground, he never regained consciousness,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Over 2000 people gathered in King George Square to demand that something be done so that no other family suffers such a terrible loss…as something was our government’s strategy to tackle the violence fueled by the alcohol.”
Mr Miller’s brother and sister were in parliament on Wednesday.
“It’s always very upsetting to relive those events…but it’s also very nice to see the positive results of the changes that have happened,” said Cole’s older brother, Billy.
Among the accepted recommendations was work to ensure that a list of prohibited patrons is available for venues open after midnight.
There will also be an independent review of alcohol and drug safety education in schools and additional funding of $500,000 to support nighttime safety tips.
Australian Associated Press