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Keep Canberra Open campaigners remain wary

By Charlotte Harper - 27 July 2016 10

Keep Canberra Open

Keep Canberra Open, a campaign to “save Canberra’s nightlife”, has been successful in its bid to prevent the ACT Government from introducing legislation that would enforce changes to opening hours for nightclubs and bars, but organisers are concerned the reprieve may be a temporary one.

The campaign, which has actively encouraged young Canberrans to enrol to vote ahead of the October ACT election, has more than 4800 supporters on Facebook, and in excess of 7300 signatories to a petition to be submitted to the Speaker of the ACT Legislative Assembly.

Its spokesman is Ryan Sabet, a co-owner of the Mr Wolf and Academy nightclubs, and it was inspired by the April revelation that the ACT Government was considering legislating for earlier closing times and/or hikes in fees for establishments remaining open in the early hours of the morning after the measures were recommended in a white paper on liquor reform.

Keep Canberra Open’s activities were due to reach a crescendo this Saturday, with a rally in Garema Place scheduled for noon ahead of the potential introduction of legislation designed to address alcohol-related violence to the Assembly on Monday, but last night Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Attorney-General Simon Corbell issued a statement ruling out changes to rules around last drinks of closing times.

“After careful consideration of options in the Liquor White Paper and taking into account the broad range of community views, the Government has determined to rule out making changes to rules around last drinks or closing times,” they wrote.

“[The Government] will proceed with a range of reforms to the Liquor Act later this year, but they will not include changes to opening hours. The proposal to have a changed fee structure for the small number of venues that stay open past 3am will also not progress.”

The pair said the Government will continue to develop legislation for introduction later this year to make it easier for bars and clubs to run events and that new legal definitions will be developed to make it easier to deal with people who are intoxicated.

Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson, who was opposed to the proposed measures from the start, reckons the Government has made the decision in reaction to the community outcry.

“It’s an 11th hour back flip in the lead up to the election and I think we’ll see more of this as the government tries to shut down dissent in the lead up to October,” the Liberals leader said.

He said earlier this year that the Liberals would not raise fees for bars and nightclubs unnecessarily.

“[We] will instead support better enforcement measures and work cooperatively with police, venues and the public to keep Canberra open and keep Canberra safe.”

Yesterday ACT Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury revealed he was opposed to the contentious aspects of the legislation, meaning Labor lacked the numbers to get the measures passed in the Assembly.

“I don’t think 3am last drinks, through dramatically increased license fees for venues serving drinks after 3am, is the right step for our city at this stage,” he said.

“It would shut down opportunities for nightlife and entertainment in Canberra when in fact we should be moving in the other direction – growing and developing Canberra’s nightlife into something more diverse, vibrant and exciting.”

Mr Rattenbury said the Greens would support other initiatives to address alcohol-related harms and improve late-time culture including licence reforms to encourage smaller bars, restaurants and live music to thrive in Canberra; a night time “mayor” or “commissioner” to promote night culture and work with business and residents and Government; improving obligations on venues to serve alcohol responsibly and mitigate problem drinking; and responding to large volume alcohol sales that occur in off-licence premises, especially in problem areas.

The rally on Saturday will likely be a smaller affair now, though organisers plan to go ahead with it, concerned that the Government may have simply postponed their plans.

“Keep Canberra Open supporters must remain vigilant as the Government has ‘put off’ but NOT ABANDONED making a decision on last drinks or closing times until after the election,” organisers wrote on Facebook last night.

“We must continue with our Rally until the point the Government makes it clear what changes it will implement if it were to be re-elected.”

Mr Hanson will address the rally. Mr Rattenbury will also be in attendance.

Organisers will present the Government with a “Positive Late Night Economy Policy Paper” ahead of the event. They want to see improved consultation and licensing legislation more like that in force in Melbourne than in Sydney, where the so-called lock-out laws have led to several establishments closing down.

The Keep Canberra Open campaigners are supportive of legislation to reduce the risk of violence but, in the words of their petition, “not at the cost of a vibrant part of our culture especial when the proposed legislation will not adequately resolve the issue”.

“We demand smarter solutions — a holistic and lateral approach to preventing assaults which examines transport, CCTV, tougher sentencing, density and diversity of licensed premises, venue management, culture as a placating tool and the tendency towards violence among certain groups of individuals.”

Mr Corbell said addressing alcohol-fuelled violence remained a priority for the Government.

“The Government is committed to continuing to work with key stakeholders to develop a broad consensus around reforms needed and measures that will work in Canberra to reduce alcohol-related violence,” he said.

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10 Responses to
Keep Canberra Open campaigners remain wary
chewy14 10:42 am 01 Aug 16

Charlotte Harper said :

A tale of two cities:

Sydney: A weekend rally demanding the Federal Government extend the royal commission into youth detention Australia wide.

Canberra: A weekend rally demanding the Government allow us to continue getting pissed until 5am on the weekends.

So good to see Canberra has it’s priorities in order. :O

Yes, it’s completely surprising that people are more interested in local issues, isn’t it.

Although whilst those people were protesting in Sydney, millions of overseas children are starving, being killed in war or used as slaves.

Those people in Sydney should really get their priorities in order right?

Mordd 11:41 am 31 Jul 16

A tale of two cities:

Sydney: A weekend rally demanding the Federal Government extend the royal commission into youth detention Australia wide.

Canberra: A weekend rally demanding the Government allow us to continue getting pissed until 5am on the weekends.

So good to see Canberra has it’s priorities in order. :O

Steven Bailey 11:56 pm 29 Jul 16

Press release:
Australian Sex Party ACT Supports ‘Keep Canberra Open’

Lead candidate for the Australian Sex Party ACT Steven Bailey will join the Keep Canberra Open rally this Saturday, 12pm at Garema Place.
The Keep Canberra Open campaign has been an intelligently organised and socially responsible campaign in response to the Labor/Greens Government’s draconian proposal to damage Canberra’s nightlife.
The overwhelming community support that the Keep Canberra Open campaign has cultivated is not only testament to the righteousness of their cause, but also to the talents and determination of the campaign organisers.
In recent days, the ACT Government has declared that it will not go ahead with its plans to dramatically increase fees for licensed premises and introduce compulsory 3am cut-off time for the service of alcohol.
As Keep Canberra Open points out, the Government has simply “put off but NOT ABANDONED making a decision on last drinks or closing times until after the election.”
Rarely do I associate myself with the sentiments of Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Hanson, but in this case, I would like to thank him for supporting the campaign. If elected in October, the Australian Sex Party ACT will endeavour to work constructively with either side of politics regardless of ideological differences.
While the Government’s back down is a welcome development, the timing is questionable at best, and completely disingenuous and opportunistic at worst.
As a politician, I am of the view that the Government reversed its position of harming night culture and live music due to political expediency rather than genuine respecting the views of the public.
If we were not about to have an election, the Labor/Greens Government would have continued with their policy of harming small and medium sized businesses that service people who enjoy Canberra’s night life.
I also note that the Government’s back down occurred within hours of me publicly giving the Sex Party’s full support to the Keep Canberra Open campaign.
What isn’t clear is who exactly is responsible for the back down. Did Shane Rattenbury force the Government’s hand as is claimed by the Greens, or did common sense prevail in Cabinet as is claimed by Labor?
I urge members of the Australian Sex Party and the public to Join the Keep Canberra Open rally, and to urge the Government to completely abandon their plans to harm Canberra’s night life rather than simply delay their plans until after the ACT elections in October.
[ENDS]
For more information, please contact
Steven Bailey,
Lead Candidate, President
Australian Sex Party ACT

chewy14 5:24 pm 29 Jul 16

TuggLife said :

An example of politicians caving in to the loudest squawkers. I would guess that 75% of Canberrans would have supported the changes.

Also the “loudest squakers” as you’ve dubbed them are clearly on the other side of the debate.

chewy14 5:23 pm 29 Jul 16

TuggLife said :

An example of politicians caving in to the loudest squawkers. I would guess that 75% of Canberrans would have supported the changes.

It honestly makes no difference if the public support the changes or not, you don’t get to vote on other people’s individual freedoms.

Affirmative Action M 3:33 pm 29 Jul 16

An example of politicians caving in to the loudest squawkers. I would guess that 75% of Canberrans would have supported the changes.

Mordd 1:59 pm 28 Jul 16

I’ll post the same question here I posted on Facebook, addressed to Steven Bailey and Keep Canberra Open organisers (after Steven endorsed the rally in full):

Do either of you support increased inspections, funding, and staff, for the liquor licensing enforcement officers, to curb excessive service of alcohol and ensure compliance with responsible service of alcohol, since this contributes to some politicians wanting to bring in measures like this?

This reply was posted yesterday from Keep Canberra Open, I have not had a reply from Steven yet.

Mitchell Lamb
“Hi Chris, Keep Canberra Open will release a policy paper within the next two days that will outline their position on the above.

It will also offer solutions that can ensure the ongoing safety of the general public whilst not harming small business and the music and arts scene.”

I await the answer with great interest.

chewy14 7:29 am 28 Jul 16

Robert of Braddon said :

Lockout campaigners should tone it down. From the Tele:

“Close family friends told the Daily Telegraph Stuart was the victim of bullying, torment and endless hate mail as a result of the lockout laws’ enactment.

The pressure took its toll on Stuart; he spent just one night at St Paul’s College ­before postponing his studies.

But the bullying and hate mail continued to plague him.”

It’s a sad story but hardly surprising that people don’t like it when you lobby government to reduce individual freedoms because of your own personal circumstance.

Masquara 6:08 pm 27 Jul 16

Lockout campaigners should tone it down. From the Tele:

“Close family friends told the Daily Telegraph Stuart was the victim of bullying, torment and endless hate mail as a result of the lockout laws’ enactment.

The pressure took its toll on Stuart; he spent just one night at St Paul’s College ­before postponing his studies.

But the bullying and hate mail continued to plague him.”

Masquara 6:03 pm 27 Jul 16

“Culture as a placating tool” …

Simon Rattenbury is the placating tool here.

RIP Thomas and now Stuart Kelly.

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