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Arts & Recreation

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The Youth Coalition asked parties and independent candidates about their policies on arts and recreation. We asked:
- What is your position on lockout laws?
- How will you improve nightlife for young people?

The full responses we received from parties and independent candidates are below. 
Click here to download the short snapshot of their policies on arts and recreation.

ACT Greens

The Greens didn't support restrictions on trading hours because we want Canberra to have a thriving night time economy. It would have shut down opportunities for nightlife and entertainment in Canberra, when in fact we should be moving in the other direction. We've proposed alternatives, such as a night mayor for Canberra.

We want to see increased community-wide participation in arts and cultural activities, with well-frequented, accessible venues across the ACT - and strong links between artists, workplaces, schools, institutions, and urban designers.

We've taken this approach into government, inviting local artists to design bike racks - an initiative that combines our commitment to active transport with support for artists and brightening our streetscapes. We've also taken a collaborative approach to urban art and graffiti, holding a roundtable with local artists last year.

ACT Labor

The ACT Government has no tolerance for alcohol-fuelled violence. We can’t have a diverse and interesting night life if people don’t feel safe to go out. I don’t think lockout laws are the answer to stopping cowardly one-punch attacks, and we will not introduce them. I don’t want Canberra businesses and venues to suffer the way some in Sydney have, and dictate how we think young people should have fun, if they’re not hurting anyone else. But we will be looking at our liquor licensing laws to ensure we cultivate a safe and fun environment for our local bars and clubs to flourish. 

The ACT Government has released a white paper aimed at improving Canberra’s night economy, with an option to reduce licensing fees to encourage diversity – particularly more small bars and pop-up venues. We’re supporting smaller and more diverse venues, encouraging them to entertain us in new and interesting ways. We’re bringing great shows to Canberra Theatre, growing events like Enlighten that bring the whole community together, and providing funding for new events through our Events Fund. We’re making it easier for night-time venues to try new things, and we’re making sure young people get home safe and more cheaply by being the first Australian jurisdiction to legalise ridesharing services like Uber.

Canberra Liberals

The Canberra Liberals are against shutting our city down like the government has intimated through its Building on Liquor Reform whitepaper. We don’t believe that the vast majority of people who often enjoy a night out in Civic should be punished for the irresponsible actions of a few.

The Canberra Liberals don’t support increased fees for late night venues or traders, however, we are committed to an increased police presence, cowards punch legislation and better public transport to get people home safely.

The Canberra Liberals support a vibrant Canberra night life as well as effective enforcement of liquor licensing laws and other measures to reduce incidents of violence or bad behaviour. We do not support increased fees for late night venues or increased fees for traders as these will have an impact on the venues and will not stop alcohol abuse or binge drinking. We do support laws that are aimed specifically at ‘coward punch’ crimes. 

Indepedent Candidates

Joel McKay, Independent Candidate for Brindabella

Before any type of lockout law is introduced, Canberra needs to implement tougher sentences for drunken assault and intoxicated manslaughter. The ACT must ensure that appropriate laws exist to combat alcohol fuelled violence, before lock out laws are investigated.

The lockout laws in Sydney have been very effective. Since their introduction in 2014, alcohol-related assaults in the Sydney CBD have decreased by 42.2%. Doctors and alcohol-related violence groups have praised the laws and want to see them expanded.

On the other side of the argument, there is growing concern on how the lockout laws have affected Sydney’s nightlife and in particular, smaller bars and live music venues. Recent media articles have noted a 40% decrease in live music ticket sales.

I agree that laws need to be made to address the concerns around alcohol-related violence.

Nevertheless, I believe that the implementation of any laws should not be done at the expense of small bars and live music venues.

The ACT Government could attack the issue of lockout laws from a different perspective. Why not implement a system where alcohol-related assaults are recorded for individual premises and if a particular club or bar hits a certain number, then lockout laws are applied to that premises alone.

You would find that bigger clubs and bars would start to take their “Responsible Service of Alcohol” guidelines more seriously, which would result in fewer drunks causing issues. Owners and operators would need to ensure adequate security is established, in order to deal with trouble makers before they become a problem. CCTV cameras could be used to track what clubs a violent drunk has frequented and if a common link can be identified. Reducing alcohol fuelled violence is vital to improving nightlife for young Canberrans.


The above information was provided by the parties and/or candidates listed, and authorised for publication on this website by Emma Robertson, Youth Coalition of the ACT