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Message from the President - August 2016

Posted on 12 August 2016
Message from the President - August 2016

With the first stage of Queensland's new lock-out laws in effect, the Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce (GCCCC) believes it is important that Gold Coast city leaders are able to judge their success with hard data.

That is why the GCCCC has joined with Surfers Paradise Alliance (SPA) and Griffith University to fund a research project that will complete a 12-month review of the impact of the lock-out laws.

The Government can't be trusted to report on the effectiveness of the lock-out laws. During the public consultation, it skewed the results to back its own position and did not provide an honest evaluation of the situation. It was clear the government only paid lip service to bar and nightclub owners, as it had already made up its mind what to do.

The Chamber has put $10,000 towards the research project, which will directly survey a determined number of traders across clubs, pubs, hotels, restaurants and take-away businesses in the Surfers Paradise precinct to determine year/year and month/month per cent changes to businesses due to the lock out laws.

SPA will provide foot traffic data from Movvo on a year-on-year basis to see the foot fall changes in the precinct and also the time that people spend in the precinct.

Griffith University will be tasked with data collection in relation to crime percentages recorded pre and post the lock-out implementation. Report parameters are to include benchmark data for other similar precincts within Australia to ascertain trends.

The Griffith University researchers have wide experience on alcohol-related violence statistics and are well across the current data on the Gold Coast and statistical benchmarks interstate.
SPA will also liaise with the Safe Night Out Precinct Executive to access any data they are currently collecting regarding the SNOP directions.

In Queensland, last drinks in pubs and clubs outside nightclub precincts are now served at 2am, while in nightclubs it is 3am. Shots, or rapid intoxication beverages, are banned after midnight.
From 1 February, 2017, a 1am lockout will be enforced in 15 'Safe Night Out' precincts across the state, with casinos to remain exempt.

It is vital that we track the Coast's nighttime economy during this period, to inform a debate about the laws' effectiveness. The Gold Coast is a family destination, but we can't forget the important role of the city's night time economy as an employer of young people and as a strong contributor to the coast's economy and its attractiveness as a holiday destination overall.

We already know the value of the Surfers Paradise night time economy as a result of a 3rd party economic assessment (AEC Group) commissioned by SPA in 2014. This study put the Gross Value of the night economy in Surfers Paradise (9pm to 6am) at $3.5 billion, with a $1.6 billion Gross Value Add.

The study also showed that the night economy provided $946 million in income to the Gold Coast LGA, alongside direct and indirect employment of 19,038 full time equivalent positions.

The Chamber wants Surfers Paradise to be a safe and vibrant place to go out at night time, and into the early hours of the morning. We believe much more can be achieved through increased Police number, high visibility and early intervention Policing supported by more vigilant compliance with RSA laws by licensed venues.

Since the first stage of the lockout laws have come into effect, I have seen an increase in violence outside the hotel that I manage. The laws have forced a larger number of intoxicated people onto the street at the same time. The public transport cannot handle this large number of people - that is the biggest issue.

We don't want Surfers Paradise to become a ghost town at night, as we have seen happen in Sydney's Kings Cross.

Newcastle has been lauded as the success story in curbing alcohol fueled violence and its experience was used as a template for the Sydney experiment, however, it is important to remember that prior to the changes made to NSW laws Surfers Paradise had a safety record better than Newcastle's after they had made the change.

We have argued in the past that the statistics showed that the Police in partnership with Licensed venues had provided for one of the safest entertainment precincts in Australia.

Meanwhile, Melbourne has opened up 24-hour public transport and has started festivals that attract people to the city 24/7, even as its northern states move in the opposite direction. This puts Melbourne in the league of other world-class cities such as London and New York.

"We want to activate the city," Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said, in regards to the city's new 24-hour transport system.

This Griffith University study will tell us whether the new laws have helped activate the Gold Coast, or indeed deactivated it.

Peter Yared
President
Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce

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