Queensland

Lockout laws: Katters to vote with government

Delaying the alcohol-fuelled violence legislation debate paid off for the Palaszczuk government, with the Katter party agreeing to lend its support to the legislation after the government capitulated and agreed to their demands, including a compromise on the much-mooted lockout introduction. 

That gives Labor one more vote than it needed to pass the laws, to be debated on Wednesday afternoon. 

Katters list demands to pass lockout laws

Independent MPs question "how much they want this bill to go through" as they demand rural unemployment be fixed before passing lockout laws. Nine News

Shane Knuth and Robbie Katter had presented the government with a list of demands, which included "real action" on regional Queensland's 15.1 per cent unemployment rate, adding amendments to recognise the impact of drugs in entertainment zones and changes to how the laws were introduced.

Following late-night wheeling and dealing, which led to the scheduled debate being "postponed", Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath and Anthony Lynham, who joined the Labor Party because of its pro-lockout stance, announced a bargain had been struck.

Annastacia Palaszczuk brokered a late-night deal with the Katter party MPs.
Annastacia Palaszczuk brokered a late-night deal with the Katter party MPs. 

The deal means the lockouts will now be introduced in a staggered process, with last drinks set at 2am across the state and 3am in designated entertainment precincts. 

But the 1am lockout, which had been due to begin by July this year had the original bill passed, will now not be introduced until February next year. 

The government has also agreed to an independent review of the laws from July 18.

Parts of the deal publicly disclosed includes setting up a Working Queensland Cabinet Committee meeting in Mount Isa and Charters Towers, prioritised funding for mental health programs and extending the lockout legislation to include banning drug offenders from designated Safe Night Precincts.  

New laws targeting violence in party precincts like Fortitude Valley are set to pass.
New laws targeting violence in party precincts like Fortitude Valley are set to pass. Photo: File

News of the deal sent rumours flying over what else the Katter Party had received in return for their support.

Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said no other promises had been made to the Katter MPs, other than those publicly announced. 

Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth will vote with the government on proposed alcohol-fuelled violence laws.
Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth will vote with the government on proposed alcohol-fuelled violence laws. Photo: Supplied

"The joint statement outlines the entirety of the terms of the agreement reached on this matter," he said in a statement.

"No other commitments of government support for any other pieces of legislation, including the Katter Australia Party's Transport Legislation (Taxi Services) Amendment Bill 2015, were discussed or provided.

"The Transport Legislation ... is still before a Parliamentary committee, a process the Palaszczuk government respects.

"Any suggestion to the contrary is entirely false."

Mr Katter, who said he and his colleague had been dragged into the debate - and that it wasn't something which would be on the agenda if the KAP was in power, said they were duty bound to do what they could for regional Queensland, given the position they found themselves in, as power brokers.

"All we've got is a commitment that we are going to address a lot of these employment issues in our area which will lead to investment," he said.

"... The average gross regional product in the north-west per person is $180,000, for Brisbane, it is $60,000.  So, by virtue of fixing some of these things in regional areas, we are helping people in Brisbane.  

"So this is part of a state-wide conversation, this is not us being parochial, this is us trying to participate in looking after the best interests of the state."

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers welcomed the news, despite the compromise, which the Premier said was "still the same laws, it's just a transition period".

"Anything is better than nothing - everyone knows my stance from 2009, the taps should have been off and everyone was to leave at 2am," he said.

"That was my initial submission and I stand by that. 

"I get that in this world you have to compromise, we are in a better place today than we what we were yesterday, it has been nearly seven years, we are going to see less people bashed and we are going to stop the bloodbaths and we are going to save lives and also, we are going to see police and ambulance officers not becoming the victims of vicious attacks as well and that is a very important thing."

Long-time critics of the lockout, including club owner Nick  Braban, who is also secretary of Our Nightlife Queensland, were bitterly disappointed with the decision. 

"All of the reliable evidence that Labor and Katter's Australia Party rely on for justifying this policy point to the fact that lockouts are not the main driver of crime reduction, trading hours are," he said.

"Industry was ready and willing to accept reduced trading hours but the lockout itself is a bad policy.

"This is a really disappointing outcome for young people in Queensland, not just the south-east area but our regional areas as well.

"Jobs are going to be lost, businesses will close, musicians will struggle for gigs, youth unemployment will skyrocket."

The legislation is due to be debated on Wednesday afternoon, with a vote to be held by the end of this week's parliamentary session.

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