Canberrans want 3am last drinks: alcohol poll

Canberrans want 3am last drinks: alcohol poll

Most Canberrans want 3am last drinks for bars, clubs and pubs, and many feel more threatened in the city by drunks than people high on drugs.

Nearly two-thirds of Canberrans support reduced trading hours to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence in the city and two in every five believe Civic is unsafe on Saturday nights.

Most Canberrans want the sale of alcohol in pubs, bars and clubs to end at 3am, a new poll shows.

Most Canberrans want the sale of alcohol in pubs, bars and clubs to end at 3am, a new poll shows. Credit:Andrew Quilty

Overwhelmingly, drunk people were the main reason Canberrans felt unsafe in the city, nearly double the number who feared for their safety because of drug-affected people.

Canberrans who support earlier closing times outnumber those who are against the measures three to one, ReachTEL polling commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) shows.


The poll of 1184 Canberrans comes as the ACT government considers possible changes to liquor licensing, including 3am last drinks and increasing fees for pubs and clubs that want to stay open past 3am.

FARE chief executive Michael Thorn believes community attitudes to alcohol have shifted, but the "problem" was getting political leaders to accept evidence on alcohol-related harm and community sentiment.

"This is what the community wants and they shouldn't be listening to the noisy few in the pubs and clubs sector who plainly have a vested interest in all of this," he said.

"They should do the right thing and we know that these are popular measures, this is what we've seen in NSW and Queensland over the last couple of years where similar policies have been successful.

"The measure of that success has been the dramatic reductions in night-time assault rates in Sydney for instance, the reduction in emergency department presentations, the reduction in the admissions of people with serious injuries into our intensive-care units."

Six people die and 189 are admitted to hospital every month in the ACT because of alcohol.

There was a 33 per cent surge in people presenting at attending EDs because of alcohol and a 37 per cent spike in alcohol-related injuries between 2010-11 and 2014-15, according to last week's ACT Chief Health Officer's 2016 report.

Australian Medical Association ACT president Professor Steve Robson said the polling showed more than half of young people surveyed supported 3am last drinks.

"The AMA definitely sides with the majority of Canberra residents on this – it's a sensible initiative that our residents like," he said.

"The ACT government needs to learn from the positive experiences in NSW and Queensland. Let's face it – if the two State of Origin states can agree on something, it must be a positive."

Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the government had not yet reached a decision on alcohol trading hours.

"However, it is clear from the FARE polling that a majority of Canberrans recognise that reforms are needed in this area," he said.

"We know that alcohol-related harm increases significantly after 3am and these survey results indicate that the community is aware of this."

Mr Thorn said the ACT "clearly has an unacceptable rate of emergency department presentations" and earlier closing times would probably have the biggest impact in reducing night-time assaults in entertainment precincts.


"This [3am last drinks] is one simple public policy intervention that will have an impact," he said.

Alcohol is the leading "drug of concern" for people seeking treatment, a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on Wednesday revealed.

Natasha Boddy is a reporter at The Canberra Times.

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