Friday, July 29, 2005

Double-Plus Bad

Imagine this - it's 1984 and you're a smoker being told by some harpie of a workmate that you ought to take that filthy cigarette outside.

Fast forward to 2005 and imagine you enjoy a drink or two.

From the Gold Coast Bulletin (only archived via News (I'm Rupert Murdoch And I'll Make You Pay For It) Text so reproduced here in full:

Drink parties out as liquor laws kick in

HENS' and bucks' nights and even the office Christmas party could be a thing of the past under tough new licensing laws being imposed upon pubs and clubs to stop binge-drinking.

Under new self-regulation laws introduced by the Beattie Government last month, licensees face fines of up to $7500 if they advertise cheap drink promotions for organised groups.

No advertising of alcohol packages is permitted under the new licensing code, putting an end to organised discounted drinks at parties.

Nightclub insiders say some operators only provide cheap drinks to partygoers through the spoken word.

Liberal MP Jann Stuckey said yesterday that pub and club operators were at 'sixes and sevens' over what they could and couldn't do for organised partygoers.

"The problem is that Liquor Licensing is a toothless tiger and nobody within the industry knows what is legal these days and what is not," she said.

"The minister needs to implement measures that can be enforced, but this voluntary code has no regulatory teeth and will be ignored by the cowboy operators who will continue to do the wrong thing when it comes to responsible serving of alcohol.

"The industry says the new laws are contradictory and it has grey areas, including whether they can or cannot provide drink packages for hens' nights or Christmas parties."

Surfers Paradise Licensed Venues Association president Jim Bell said the law was now clear that there could be no advertising of alcohol packages inside venues.

"It's a $7500 fine if licensees put anything in writing," he said.

As a result of the new, tougher laws, scores of Gold Coast licensees have already begun to shun organised drink sessions, such as bucks' parties.

Some race clubs have banned bucks' parties and hens' gatherings because they can't keep the patrons under control.

Ms Stuckey said penalties had been in place for years but there had been no prosecutions during 2003-04 and only five from July 2004 through to February this year.

Liquor Licensing Minister Margaret Keech said tough new liquor regulations had been enacted, including advertising bans, lockouts, mandatory responsible service of alcohol requirements and closed-circuit television.

"Our Queensland model with its own enforcement and compliance inspectors is the envy of liquor regulators in interstate jurisdictions," she said.

"If Ms Stuckey had done her research, she would know that the code of practice, launched only last week, is the result of 18 months' consultation with liquor industry peak bodies and key stakeholders from across the hospitality industry.

"The division is hardly a 'toothless tiger'. I don't think the licensees who over the past year have been shut down or had their trading hours reduced would think that either.

"Liquor compliance officers conducted 10,421 investigations across the state during 2004-05. As a result, 2526 enforcement actions were undertaken 946 infringement notices were issued totalling almost $360,000 in fines."

Ms Keech said the 'cowboy operators' referred to by Ms Stuckey exposed themselves to fines of up to $7500 per offence for irresponsible service of alcohol practices or the promotion of binge or dangerous consumption practices.

"These people will be shown no mercy if they break the law," she said.

Hmm, hate to be a drinker in 2020.

Take that back - hope to still be a drinker in 2020...

-- Nick

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