Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Inner Melbourne Liquor Licence Freeze

What a silly report in the Saturday Age of January 3, and self-interested nonsense from the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association, about the impact of the freeze on new liquor licences in inner Melbourne over the past few years.

The first problem was that the while the headline screamed "Licence freeze fails to dent crime" the report itself made no reference to crime rates at all! The second problem was that while the report referred to a jump in ambulance call outs, it assumed that the only factor influencing ambulance call out rates was liquor licences. This was a logical fallacy that a Year 10 student would readily identify.

The fallacy was brought home in a big way just two days later, when this morning's Age reported that demand for illegal narcotics such as ice is growing at breakneck speed. This time the facts were very much in evidence – use and possession offences for all drugs have skyrocketed by 68 per cent in the last five years. The highest rate of offences by a mile is in Melbourne City, the 3000 postcode, which in 2013/14 had 898 drug use and possession offences and 288 drug production offences.

Given such an increase it is entirely foreseeable that the rate of ambulance call outs in inner Melbourne would have risen. We can only guess at what the rate would have been if successive State Governments hadn't restricted the issuing of new liquor licences and the amount of alcohol being served after 1 am.
No doubt we need to do more to tackle the ice epidemic. But allowing more liquor to be served in the early hours of the morning will not make Melbourne a safer or better place to live in – quite the opposite.

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