Apparently, there is a valley low enough.

October 30, 2009

In shocking and devastating news to teenagers and drunkards all across Brisbane this week, The Queensland Police Union in conjunction with Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman want to impose a 2am shutdown of all clubs and pubs in Brisbane. Apparently violence levels in Fortitude Valley and the city are getting to unacceptable levels, and the lockdown aims to reduce this. Naturally, Brisbane teens are outraged, and plenty of facebook groups protesting the move have popped up and are quickly gaining members. But first, a disclaimer: I’m a teenager. I enjoy the valley on the weekends. Of course, I’m opposed to this plan. But before writing me off as just another binge-drinker who wants to stay out all night just to get ‘trashed’, hear me out. This plan is majorly flawed for a number of reasons, and will actually do the opposite to reducing what it aims to do.

Drunken violence in the city and valley on a Friday or Saturday night is certainly an issue, there is no denying that. Already there’s been restrictions placed on clubs, most notably the 3am lockout which prevents people from entering clubs after 3am. When that was imposed in 2005, there was outrage as well, but now most choose to (somewhat begrudgingly) adhere to it.

Without sounding dramatic, that’s a grain of sand compared to this most recent proposal.

Since Brisbane Times ran the story on their website, numerous facebook groups have popped up opposing the lockdown. At the time of writing, the largest one ‘Say NO to 2am lockdown of the valley‘ was sporting just over 10,200 members. For a page that was only created days ago, that’s a fairly sizeable number. However, there’s one small problem. Simply having 10,000+ members on a facebook page, most of which are undoubtedly teenagers, is not going to sway anybody- let alone the QPU. After all, teenagers are the ones perceived to be causing most of the problems. The fact that the display picture of the facebook group not-so-subtly tells the authorities to get fucked isn’t really going to help either.

Instead of complaining (with numerous expletives) about the plan and threats to move interstate immediately, people need to take an educated look at why shutting everything down at 2am will not work:

  • It is a known fact that the majority of violence occurs on the street, not in the clubs. Newman even said that himself in 2005 when the 3am lockout was imposed. Instead of keeping people in clubs like the current legislation does, this shutdown will force everyone out of clubs and into the streets. With thousands of drunk people on the street at 2am still ready to party, there will be chaos.
  • The current situation regarding taxis and public transport, in the valley especially, is less than desirable. Anyone who has ever been out on a Friday or Saturday night will readily testify to that. Often cab lines stretch down streets and around corners, and can take up to an hour to manoeuvre. If the shutdown goes ahead, it will stretch the current transport options to limits far beyond any of their capacities. Instead of a steady stream of people leaving throughout the night, suddenly almost the entire population of revellers will be trying to go home all at the same time. Pressure in lines for buses and cabs is only going to create more fights. The Queensland Taxi Council has already publicly opposed the plan.
  • It has happened elsewhere, to no avail. In Aberdeen in the UK, a trial 2am lockout was put in place earlier this year. However, voilence has since risen by 41% month-on-month, according to this UK article. A local club owner said this: “It’s quite obvious that at the very best the curfew is achieving absolutely nothing. We have had staff assaulted as a direct result of the curfew.” Before imposing this lockdown, the QPU and Newman really need to do their research.
  • People adapt. If it comes down to it and the lockdown is put in place, people will just find other ways to get around it. At the moment, on average people head to the valley between 10pm and midnight. If people are forced home at 2am, they will simply start going out earlier. Not only will this not solve the problem, but it will place these drunken teenagers in the same space as workers heading home and families out to dinner.

There are far better ways of reducing violence than locking down all the clubs at 2am. For starters, Liquor licenses need to be much more heavily enforced, and bar staff must be trained to actually refuse intoxicated people service, like the current legislation states. This, with an increased police presence, is a much better alternative to the lockdown.

420valley-420x0

Evidently, there are plethora of reasons that this proposal won’t work. Most disappointing though is the effect it will have on the local music industry. Brisbane continues to be one of the up-and-coming cities in the world when it comes to live music and entertainment. The QLD Government’s ‘Valley Entertainment Precinct’ plan is currently doing wonders for the suburb, and the recent Valley Fiesta proves that when live music is good, people will come to see it in droves. A ban like this will only send it back to the dark ages.

While these complaints may come from a teenager who has something to lose if the lockdown goes ahead, most are simply common sense…something the QPU seem to be lacking of late. For numerous reasons, this plan is fatally flawed, and will actually increase violence instead of getting rid of it. However, simply joining a facebook group and swearing at the local authorities will not stop this going ahead. Instead, taking action and legitimately offering comments and complaints will be much more helpful.

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