Time for mums and dads to call last drinks on hotel lobby

ditulis oleh : Jomblo Terhormat 20 Juli 2013
WHEN I walked away after 20 years as an industry lobbyist at the Tourism & Transport Forum in 2011, I looked back on my career with pride, having used my political contacts and experience to help take the tourism sector from cottage industry to a pillar of the national economy. 

Regrettably, a small part of that advocacy was to defend the hotel sector's right to sell more alcohol, to more people, for longer hours and in more places.
Sadly, this helped lead to increased domestic violence, family breakdown, street crime, brain injury and teenage deaths as well as the creation of a slew of multi-millionaire pub barons.
This was wrong, and I apologise for ever being part of it.
Like most Aussies, I love a drink at my 'local' and see hotels as part of our social fabric. Further, the hotel sector provides millions of dollars to the local economy and tens of thousands of jobs across the country. They also pay significant taxes.
The problem is that we Australians don't just live in an economy, we also live in a society and when the damage being done to that society by any product exceeds the contribution it makes to the economy it is time to take decisive action.
Mind you, 'action' is the last thing our political leaders can take because the power of the alcohol lobby is greater than the combined power of parents and concerned citizens. It is even more powerful than the combined voice of the Police Association, health professionals and the charities that have to deal with the aftermath of violence, poverty, crime and injury.
I should know, I was a small part of that alcohol lobby and I saw how much power is wielded by groups like the Australian Hotels Association and its fellow travellers. It is a rich and powerful coalition that uses political donations, VIP hospitality and lobbyists to influence policy.
Even after the success of a trial of modest hotel reforms in Newcastle, where 1am lockouts and 3am closings saw a stunning drop in violence, the pub barons still call (and pour) the shots. When coppers, doctors, charity workers, scientists and even The Daily Telegraph are ignored you know you're up against serious political power.
Grog has ruled Sydney politics since the Rum Corps ran Governor Bligh out of town in 1808 and many of his successors have cowered to the alcohol lobby since. Anne Cohen, the licensing minister for premier John Fahey (pictured), was hunted out of parliament in 1995 for bravely trying to reform the sector, with a campaign funded by the pubs to unseat her.
There will be hoteliers, lobbyists and politicians calling me a traitor, a wowser and a troublemaker. Actually, I'm just a concerned parent trying to raise two teenage boys safely in a city that increasingly resembles a war zone.
Late on Saturday night, I drove a mate home to Surry Hills. At the corner of Elizabeth and Liverpool streets, 25 men and women were brawling on the road in four separate fights. In the middle of the city, at a busy intersection, beer bottles were flying, a young woman was punched in the face, men were king-hitting each other madly and four girls kicked another lying on the road. Police say this is an all-too-common eventdue to alcohol abuse.
Despite the glaring crime stats, the AHA says we need pubs open until sunrise for Sydney to be a global city and to protect our "night-time economy"! This is a lie and it's time more insiders spoke up. The closure of hotel band venues to accommodate poker machines and drunken yobbos fighting on the street seriously detract from our global allure. The tourism industry and its 500,000 proud bosses and workers are sick of being the veil behind which publicans hide to promote unconstrained drinking and gambling.
I have a simple request of our political leaders. Watch the recent ABC Four Corners episode Punch Drunk, which detailed the impact of alcohol-fuelled violence on society. Otherwise, invite Thomas Kelly's father in to address MPs about the tragedy his family continues to endure.
However, if the community expects our politicians to have the courage to defy the powerful hotel lobby that wants to pour drinks down kids' throats 24/7, then we have to be brave enough to act as well. Let the voices of loving parents be heard as we stand up to these publicans and let's work together to make our pubs, and our streets, safe again.

Source : http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/time-for-mums-and-dads-to-call-last-drinks-on-hotel-lobby/story-fni0cwl5-1226677814341

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