According to the member for Toowoomba North, Trevor Watts, who was instrumental in getting the legislation introduced, it is a significant win for local councils.
“I’ve lobbied hard so that local councils have the ability to say yes or no to the location of an adult entertainment permit.,” said Mr Watts. “And that is what has been introduced. This will give local people a local voice about how their CBD or suburb might look.”
Mr Watts said the purpose of the ‘Safe Night Out’ legislation is to change the culture of alcohol consumption and its regulation in Queensland.
Part of this new legislation states “Local councils will have the power to prevent applications for adult entertainment permits being made in their council area. This is part of our commitment to empower local communities.”
The legislation still needs to be reviewed by a committee and the Attorney General, and then presented to parliament for a vote, but Mr Watts said he was confident it will pass.
“I wouldn’t want to preempt any of my colleagues votes,” he said. “But my colleagues are supportive of this legislation.”
The decision to give local councils this new power is a big win for Mr Watts, who was stirred into action last year when an application was put forward to turn the old Commonwealth Bank building on Ruthven Street into a strip club.
At the time, he and others, including the Director of the Australian Christian Lobby in Queensland, Wendy Francis, approached the Attorney General in the hope of over-turning the successful application.
“But because there was no legal precedent at the time,” said Mrs Francis, “the Attorney General didn’t feel like he had any legislative backing to overturn the decision.”
“So now, if a bureaucrat decides that something is going to go ahead, despite local opposition, this new legislation will give the Attorney General the power to overturn that decision,” she said.
However, the new legislation does not apply to current permits, such as The Vault on Ruthven, which is something Mr Watts will continue to work at changing.
“A current license has to renew every 3 years, and if they renew their license within 30 days of its expiry, then this process will not apply to them.,” he said. “I think this process should apply to everybody, so I’ll be putting that view forward.”
For this reason, Mr Watts believes it is vital that people continue to make their voice heard by signing a petition, so that he can push for further changes to the legislation.
“The good thing is that the government has heard the voice of the people and have agreed that local people should have a say on this issue,” he said. “But it is still very important for people to sign the petition because it shows a strength in numbers and shows the government that people want the power to decide what happens in their community.”