It doesn’t matter what night of the week you walk down the main street of Airlie Beach – there’s always something going on.
But with new licensing laws set to be introduced from July 1, stakeholders from around the region have been involved in regular meetings to ensure the changes go smoothly and concerns have been raised.
Queensland’s new ‘lockout’ laws mean Airlie’s clubs will have to cease serving drinks at 3am and because it is a Safe Night Precinct, there will be no lockouts until February 1, 2017, when a 1am lockout will be introduced.
The other big change is that venues will not be able to serve “rapid consumption” drinks such as shots after midnight.
Safe Night Airlie Beach CBD Precinct secretary Jasmin Lear said we would have to take a “wait and see” approach on the changes.
“There is a concern out there that just before midnight people will rush to order their shots before the cut off, which could see people fairly intoxicated around this time,” she said.
Ms Lear said transport may be another issue, with more people trying to get home in a more concentrated time.
“For our nightlife to stay vibrant the public really need to support their venues and be open to changing their behaviours, to possibly go out earlier and move their night life habits up two hours.
People need to get behind their venues and show up, if no-one comes then you might see the closure of venues and to see any more of our great venues close would be a very sad day for Airlie Beach,” she said.
The restrictions have followed the path of New South Wales, with the laws introduced to curb the amount of alcohol related violence across the state.
Whitsunday Police Station officer in charge, Senior Sergeant Nathan Blain, said they had been working hard with the liquor industry to provide the safest environment possible.
“The intent of the legislation is to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence and I will be closely monitoring the impact the changes have on our area,” he said.
“I urge everyone to show respect to each other, in particular to staff at licensed premises who are required to ensure the changes are complied with. As with any change there will be some people who are supportive or against it, however it is important to remember that the intent of the changes is to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence and make it safer for everybody.”
Airlie’s night clubs will be the hardest hit by the changes and Mama Africa nightclub owner Stacey Harvey said there would be a slashing of hospitality working hours.
“Reduced hours for our staff, security and DJ’s is a real worry as there is not a lot of extra work around,” she said. “The margins in hospitality are not great so hopefully we will not see venues forced to close like in Sydney, however I feel Airlie Beach is fortunate in that it is a tourist towns and tourists tend go with the flow.”
The Safe Night and Public Safety Consultative Committee will put on a shuttle bus from 2-4am on July 2 and 3 to get people off the street and assess the need for additional transport.
Alcohol will stop being served at 3am instead of 5am
“Rapid consumption” drinks like shots can no longer be served after midnight
SOURCE: WHITUNDAY TIMES