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Powell Media Release – Sunshine Coast part of Government’s ‘Safe Night Out Strategy’ (24 March 2014)

Drunk or drug affected people in the Sunshine Coast‘s party precinct who start fights or break the law will face firmer penalties under the Safe Night Out Strategy released by the State LNP Government over the weekend. 

The Sunshine Coast is one of fifteen areas that has been named a ‘Safe Night Precinct’ under the 12 month trial by the Newman Government aimed at reducing drug and alcohol fuelled violence.

Member for Glass House, Andrew Powell MP, said the Safe Night Out Strategy will focus on those who commit the crime rather than those out to have a great safe night out in the Sunshine Coast’s entertainment precincts.

“Most Queenslanders drink responsibly, but the actions of an irresponsible minority who are behaving badly means that alcohol and drug-related violence is ruining things for everyone,” Mr Powell said.

“We have put together the most comprehensive plan in Australia to tackle alcohol-related violence, and we want to hear what Queenslanders think about what is being proposed, to make sure we have it right.

“The draft Action Plan is being released for public consultation for one month until Monday, 21 April 2014.” 

Key elements of the draft Safe Night Out Strategy include:

  •  The establishment of 15 Safe Night Precincts with local boards to safely and effectively manage key entertainment areas across Queensland and continued funding of existing support services
  • Compulsory alcohol and drug education would be introduced in all Queensland schools from Years 7 to 12
  • Tougher penalties for people behaving badly or violently around licensed premises including increased on the spot fines for causing a public nuisance, refusing to leave licensed premises and obstructing police
  • ‘Coward punch’ deaths will be punishable through a new offence of unlawful striking causing death with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and offenders required to serve 80% of their sentence before being able to apply for parole
  •  A 12 month trial of ‘sober safe centres’ in the Brisbane CBD where police can detain severely intoxicated people in a secure, supervised centre for up to eight hours
  • Empowering police to issue banning orders and ensuring police have the resources to have a presence and ability to respond quickly to alcohol and drug related violence
  • Stronger and better coordinated action to ensure licensees provide a safe environment and comply with liquor licensing rules, including ‘mystery shopper’ style tests
  • Mandatory ID scanners in venues trading after midnight in ‘Safe Night Precincts’
  • An awareness campaign, including advertising, to promote clear standards of responsible behaviour for patrons, licensees and police
  • An extension of the moratorium on decisions about late night trading hours to 31 August 2014 to allow the measures in the action plan to be established and take effect.

Premier Campbell Newman said education and awareness campaigns both within schools and the wider community were crucial to promote the importance of responsible behaviour.

“Young people need to know what sort of behaviour is expected of them when they reach drinking age,” Mr Newman said.

“Just as the culture around drink driving has changed, so too must community attitudes to excessive drinking and drug use.”

The draft Safe Night Out Strategy was developed following months of consultation with Queenslanders including an online survey that attracted more than 12,000 responses.

“Rather than having a knee jerk reaction to this complex issue, we have taken the time to listen to Queenslanders’ views,” Mr Newman said.

“We now want to hear from the community about their thoughts on the draft Safe Night Out Strategy.”

A copy of the strategy is available at www.qld.gov.au/safenightout and will be open for public comment for four weeks, with the final plan subject to review in 12 months.

ENDS- 24 March 2014

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