Mayor, top cop at odds over drunken street violence

27 Feb
More police have been deployed to help stem alcohol-fuelled violence on the Gold Coast

More police have been deployed to help stem alcohol-fuelled violence on the Gold Coast

By Samantha McLaughlin, Bond University Student Journalist 

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate and the coast’s top cop are at odds over how to solve the city’s alcohol-fuelled violence problem.

Cr Tate wants extra police and tougher legislation, but Acting Superintendent Des Lacy said that 100 more officers were already deployed and that it was clear a multi-pronged strategy was needed.

The councillor and superintendent were also out of step about restricting the trading hours of entertainment precincts along the ‘glitter strip’.

The idea of reviewing the current liquor licensing laws follows New South Wales’ plans to amend legislation that would see 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks in a bid to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence.

Cr Tate said reflecting New South Wales’ approach to combat the issue was not the appropriate solution for the Gold Coast nightlife district.

“It is very unlikely restricting trading hours will do anything other than to have more people spill onto the streets at the one time,” he said.

“Many residents have contacted me and said that restricted trading hours would simply encourage young people to binge drink before heading out, shifting but not solving the problem.

“I think leaders need to diversify the night-time economy so that people associate ‘going out’ with live music, performances, events and dining, and lastly drinking.”

Supt Lacy would not comment directly on  restricting licensing laws  but said the facts spoke for themselves.

“There are studies that have proven that moving closing times for licensed premises back up to 3am from 5am reduce violence by up to 30%,” he said.

“This could be 30% less serious assaults that leave the victim in hospital and 30% less deaths caused by the ‘cowardly punch’.”

One view the leaders did share was the impact alcohol-fuelled violence has had on the city’s reputation.

“Alcohol-fuelled violence is not helpful to the Gold Coast’s image and is a problem we could definitely be without, as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane would agree,” Cr Tate said.

Supt Lacy agreed with the mayor and said media exposure of the issue has had significant influence upon the local tourism-based economy, portraying the Gold Coast as a lawless playground for drunken mayhem.

“There has been a number of international media reports on tourists and international students who have been the subject of personal violence while on the Gold Coast,” he said.

“Many of these incidents result from attacks while in the night club precinct.

“Any media of this nature will impact the lucrative markets of tourism and international education.”

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