SAFE NIGHT OUT
Tougher penalties for drug and alcohol fuelled violence
DRINK and drug-affected people who start fights or break the law in the Airlie Beach party precinct will now face tougher penalties under the Queensland Government’s new Safe Night Out Strategy.
Airlie Beach is among 15 locations around the state that have been declared ‘safe night precincts’ in a 12-month trial aimed at reducing drug and alcohol-fuelled violence.
Under the new strategy, coward punch killers could face life imprisonment with offenders required to serve 80 per cent of their sentences before being eligible for parole.
There would also be tougher penalties for people behaving badly or violently around licensed premises. Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan said a draft action plan was being re- leased for public consultation, which was open until Monday, April 21.
Chairperson for the Whitsunday Liquor Accord and owner of Airlie’s Mama Africa nightclub Stacy Harvey was generally supportive of the initiative.
“From the Liquor Accord point of view, we feel that working closely with all the stakeholders involved including licensed venues, local police and state and local governments, to come up with a range of measures all aimed at reducing violence in and around party precincts, is positive and essentially the outcome of this,” she said.
Acting Inspector Steve O’Connell said police were examining all the strategies that had been put forward to see how they could be utilised in Airlie Beach.
When asked about the level of street or alcohol-fuelled violence in the area, he said police dealt with bad behaviour resulting from over intoxication and some drug use on a weekly basis.
“We provide a fairly continuous policing presence in the [Airlie] main street just about every night, but certainly the police actions are not about curtailing anybody’s fun – it’s all about curtailing injuries and the disruption to other people's enjoyment,” he said.
“I think the main point we need to make is how it’s just that really short step from fooling around, to being a public nuisance to being in a fight and ending up in hospital. Hopefully this new concept and some of these strategies we’re looking at will help us to eliminate some of that.”
A copy of the strategy is available at www.qld.gov.au/safenightout.
SAFE STREET: Licensed taxi owner and driver Trevor Moore, Acting Inspector Steve O'Connell, Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan and Whitsunday Liquor Accord chairperson and nightclub owner Stacy Harvey, are all supporting the State Government's initiative to turn Airlie Beach into one of 15 'safe night precincts' throughout the state.