Imagine a Canberra nightlife with no life after 3am.
That’s what members of the Keep Canberra Open group believe will happen if proposed changes to liquor licensing are accepted by Parliament.
In an attempt to curb alcohol-related violence in Canberra, a white paper released last month by ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell (Building on Liquor Reform), details a number of possible solutions including:
- Stopping alcohol sales in licensed venues after 3am
- Applying a 300% increase in licensing fees for venues wishing to continue serving until 4am
- Applying a 300-500% increase in licensing fees for venues wishing to continue serving until 5am
Keep Canberra Open, a group comprised of music lovers, band members, bar staff, venue owners, promoters and Djs, believe the changes will do little to curb alcohol-fuelled violence, while doing a lot to damage tourism, hospitality and culture in Canberra.
“As late night entertainment venues typically do not begin performances and key trading until midnight, a restriction of 3am will destroy these venues and put an end to music and dancing in the capital.
Late night traders have made it clear that they cannot afford to continue trading with the proposed fee increases or reduced trading hours. If this proposal is accepted, venues will no longer spend money on both local and international performers.”
The white paper states that the increased fees will be used to pay for additional policing in nightlife precincts. It also references ‘Proposal 23’ which would allow licensees to apply for extended trading hours at no cost 4 times per year to cater for special events and performances.
According to studies documented in the paper, a similar reform to licensing laws in Newcastle resulted in a decrease in recorded assaults by 37%.
However Keep Canberra Open spokesperson and event promoter Ryan Sabet says, “Similar restrictive legislation has proven a failure across NSW & Newcastle. Deakin University finds lockouts ‘politically attractive, but completely ineffective’. This is not a solution, we need solutions that help nurture the industry, not destroy it. That’s what Keep Canberra Open is all about.”
The Keep Canberra Open petition currently has over 5800 signatures.