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Two-thirds of Canberrans support 3am last drinks

By Charlotte Harper - 16 June 2016 21


Two-thirds of ACT residents support the ACT Government’s recent proposal to introduce 3am last drinks for pubs, clubs and bars across the ACT, according to a phone poll conducted on behalf of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).

FARE commissioned market research specialist ReachTEL to undertake the poll to gain an understanding on attitudes towards alcohol, perceptions of safety and support for trading hour ‘last drinks’ policies.

See the report in full here.

The poll found there is strong support for 3am last drinks across all age groups: 18 to 34 year olds (50.2%), 35 to 50 year olds (69.9%), 51 to 65 year olds (81.6%) and those over 65 (71.3%).

It also found that 39.9% of ACT residents consider built-up areas in and around the city centre, Civic, to be unsafe or very unsafe on a Saturday night.

Respondents who report feeling unsafe or very unsafe in Civic are most likely to cite people affected by alcohol (36.2%) as the factor that contributes to this, almost double the proportion of residents who select people affected by drugs (20.1%).

According to FARE, six people die each month in Canberra and a further 189 are hospitalised in Canberra as a result of alcohol.

The region has witnessed a 32 per cent increase in the number of alcohol-related emergency department presentations in the last four years, from 5,084 a year in 2009-10 up to 6,702 in 2012-13, the organisation says.

FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn said there was strong evidence that a reduction in trading hours would prevent many of these harms.

“It is abundantly clear that the local community want the ACT Government to act,” Mr Thorn said.

“Alcohol places a huge burden on local hospitals and emergency workers and the broader community. A majority of residents understand that, and clearly believe that a modest reduction in trading hours is a worthwhile policy that will result in significant benefits,” Mr Thorn said.

The lobbyist recommended the ACT follow the example of New South Wales and Queensland, saying those jurisdictions had been guided by the best evidence available and had acted to put the health and safety of their citizens ahead of industry profits and to save lives.

In an interview with RiotACT earlier this year, Frank Condi, owner of the Academy and Mr Wolf nightclubs, argued that the problem is not with venue closing times but with Australia’s drinking culture in general.

“Our culture is drink hard, drink fast,” Mr Condi said.

“I think it’s a big problem, and I’m all for change in laws around alcohol advertising … New York and London don’t seem to have the problems we have. Why is it that in our culture we can’t manage that?”

He said a rephrasing of Sydney’s lockout laws could have a dramatic impact on Canberra’s business community.

“The lockout laws are great in some areas, but what affect are they having on the rest of the precinct?” he said.

“Kings Cross [in Sydney] is a ghost town. A lot of businesses there have had to sack staff and close down.”

ReachTEL conducted the poll on behalf of FARE on May 25 this year, from 6pm to 7.30pm, using an automated telephone-based survey system that called mobile and landline telephones. Telephone numbers and the person within the household were randomly selected, attaining a final sample of 1,184 voters. The results were weighted by gender and age in order to reflect the current Australian Bureau of Statistics population figures.

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