What I Really Hate About Australia

Nanny state laws, that’s what I really hate!

My days of drinking in pubs and clubs until 5 AM in the morning are long behind me. But a big night out on the town is a big part of life for younger people, it’s what entices them to live in big cities. For most people, going out for a drink is just a bit of fun…


FreeImages.com/Lewy Ryan

Unfortunately, sometimes those nights out end in tragedy, fighting can often lead to a fatality. One punch can kill. It has happened very recently in Brisbane and it has also happened in Sydney. I’m sure it has also happened in every other major city in every other alcohol enjoying country in the world.

It’s not unique to Australia.

Here in Australia though, state governments react in knee-jerk fashion. Already the Queensland Government are looking to change the licensing laws and introduce earlier ‘lockouts”. They are looking at bringing last orders forward from 5 AM to 2 AM. Some venues could remain open until 3 AM, but you would need to be in that venue before 1 AM otherwise you’ll be refused entry.

If you read about the tragedy that has caused this knee-jerk reaction on the ABC News website, they actually state “It is not yet known whether alcohol played a part in the incident.” That doesn’t matter though, alcohol can take the blame anyway. Let’s close down the bars.

Lockout laws

Sydney, the biggest city in all of Australia, has already introduced stringent lockout laws. You can no longer enter a licensed venue after 1:30 AM and last drinks are now 3 AM.

Matt Barrie has written a fascinating article explaining why this is destroying Sydney. It’s a long article, here are some of the highlights:

  • In the busiest areas of Sydney’s liveliest precinct, King’s Cross, many many nightclubs and bars are now permanently closed
  • Flinders bar in Darlinghurst – closed
  • The century-old Exchange Hotel which held six venues – all closed
  • Hugo’s Lounge, a top bar in Sydney for 15 years and voted Australia’s best nightclub five years running – closed
  • Hugo’s Pizza, a multi-award-winning pizza restaurant – closed; apparently their revenue was 60% down as they tried to grapple with 36 ‘stringent conditions’ placed on their business over the last 2 1/2 years
  • Jimmy Liks, serving Asian food with a wine bar and a cocktail bar – closed after 14 years

In the last three years 42 businesses have closed in King’s Cross, foot traffic is down 84% and takings have fallen by 40% or more.

Of course, with all these closures there are job losses to go with it. But hey, state government think this is great, because violence is down. The laws are working, they say.

Here’s how you can bring crime even further down, why not have a countrywide curfew after 7 PM?

According to Matt Barrie, the only solution for the people of Sydney is to move to Melbourne. But, I suspect, if somebody gets punched in Melbourne, maybe all that will change in Victoria as well. You can read Matt Barrie’s full and rather scary article over at news.com.au.

The people of Sydney have had enough and they’ve taken to the streets to protest…

One politician is on the side of the protesters, that is Senator David Leyonhjelm…

I agree with him entirely, why should the masses be punished because of the behaviour of a very small minority. Let’s let people be adults, and as adults take responsibility for their own actions. Clamp down on the violent crime, punish the perpetrators hard, don’t punish everybody.

Let’s hope the politicians of Queensland take notice before they similarly decimate the nightlife areas of Brisbane.

Rant over, I need a beer. Cheers

glass-of beer

FreeImages.com/Adriana Herbut

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{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Frank Gilling February 19, 2020, 1:20 am |

    Hi Bob, me again. Brett had two parts to his gripe and wanted to drink in the streets and once again thought we were a nanny state. Well Brett and Bob, so are most places around the world.
    Where drinking in the street is tolerated, bad behaviour is nort. Drinking in the street usually ends up meaning bad, loutish drunken behavious. So I did my world research.
    USA where people like Brett think street drinking is OK. Its not tolerated at all and there are laws against it. There are 7 areas where it is OK across the USA and they are usually beach type locations.
    Lets be clear. Seven locations across the USA where it is OK. Seven!
    Vancouver Canada. Yeah it may be OK subject to behaviour and make no mistake the Police will step in if they think you are overstepping the bounds of good behaviour.
    London. Aah London where hardened drinkers here think its OK to drink on the streets. Be aware London has the Public Places Protection Order. PPPO. Police have powers to stop public drinking. So its OK but be a nice guy and all your group are nice. No loud, lewd, drunken behaviour otherwise your freedom to drink will be quickly curtailed.
    Berlin. Street drinking has been illegal since 1999. Let me say that again. Illegal since 1999. Drink in the streets and you might just get caught.
    Moscow. Who would want to drink in the streets here. Too cold. But drink on the streets is not a wise decision. No laws but behaviour is strictly and powerfully enforced. Moscow gaol cells can be bitterly cold places.
    Paris. Aaahh Paris. City of Love where you can drink in the streets and find love. There is no law against it but several places do not allow public drinking and the Gendarmes enforce that rule.
    Fiji. Nice Island Pardise where you should be able to go and drink on the beach and on the streets right? Well it is not encouraged. Authorities make an exception if you drink Kava from licenced vendors. Good luck with getting a bellyful of that.
    Bali it is tolerated to a degree and mainly please confine yourself to beach areas. This is a Muslim nation and alchohol is not tolerated. Locals may just take it upon themselves to let you know they are not pleased. Bad behaviiour is a great signal to set them off. A beating before the Police arrive could be the result.
    Go on guys have a beer walking down the street in Goondoowindi or Warwick or Mackay or Rockampton and see how closely the Police will quickly monitor your behavior. Some of those places have open window in the pub which open directly onto the street. Good drinking buddies will stop and talk at the windows. The drinkers are on the inside. The people on the outside are just visitors unless they decide to join the mates inside. Even in these situations bad behaviour is not tolerated. So if you are so desperate to have a drink in public go ahead. You must need it – right? Your body might shut down if you cannot have a beer on the street. On the flip side if you have a beer on the street its quite possible your mind shuts down while the body, including the motor mouth will continue to try to do things with the brain being in a non functioning state.

    • BobinOz February 20, 2020, 4:57 pm |

      And then there is Iran, where, for Muslim citizens; ‘Consumption of alcohol (one glass) is punished by 80 lashes, but repeated offences may lead to death penalty, although rarely exercised. In 2012, two men were sentenced to death after a third offense in Khorasan.’

      And that’s anywhere in the country, let alone in public 🙂

  • Frank Gilling February 13, 2020, 8:52 pm |

    Hi Bob, Brett re-opened this subject after a 4 year hiatus and prompted me to do a bit of research as you and some readers think we live in a nanny state and we have outdated laws and we as adults – and I use that term looseley as once adults get a bellyful of booze their reasoning powers becomes sub human. I did some research on closing hours around the world. Its not a foolproof result as there are variations within states, districts, provinces etc. My understanding is that generally much of world locations close doors earlier.
    Lets go around the world and starting nowhere in particular except somewhere I have been and had a drink or two.
    Vancouver 2am. New York and New York State 4am with some variation of later and earlier. Paris 3am. London – Bob you should know this one – 2 am. Berlin 11pm for outdoor venues and later up to 5am for indoor sites. Moscow 5am. Bali 4am lots of variations though according to the amount of the bribe paid to Police. Phuket Midnight or 2am or 4am again according to the size of the bribe. Auckland 3am. Fiji Midnight. So does that mean every city which has closing times of 5am are nanny states. London is a good example then. Oh by the way in my research it seems that the most important questions asked on Google are where can I get a drink, where do I get a girl and can I wear jeans while doing both of those things. It seems odd to me that you want to travel to a foreign country and instead of looking for cultural and historical places to see all some people want to do is wear jeans, drink as long as possible and pick up a girl. Forgive me but if I travel all the way to Bali I do not want to spend my time drinking until closing time and hope there is a girl just waiting for a drunk, I want to see the country and its culture and its people and I need to be sober to do that. If all want to see is the inside of a bar I could stay in Brisbane until 5am and wonder why there are no girls left to pick up as they all found part time drunks and left at 1am. Oh well I guess I might as well go outside and look for a fight instead. Preferably one I can win with a king hit and run away.

    • BobinOz February 17, 2020, 4:40 pm |

      Interesting analysis Frank, and it does put it into perspective. I think the licensing laws in this country do run very late, I’m quite shocked to see that quite a few of the taverns in sleepy suburbs around Brisbane stay open till 4 AM every day, I think mainly so people can play the dreaded pokies!

      I can remember, as a young man growing up in the UK, that pubs used to shut at 10:30 PM every day, except for the weekends when we were allowed to stay until the unearthly hour of 11 PM.

      That has all changed now, as you pointed out, but they still close earlier in the UK than they do here in Australia.

      Thanks for all your research here Frank, it makes interesting reading.

  • Brett February 13, 2020, 1:10 pm |

    Only just found this blog but enjoy what you write!
    As a true blue Aussie it really annoys me we can’t drink in public, after travelling to many countries and enjoying a beer from the local 7/11 and walking down the street with it, or on a beach in Thailand or even in a park in Tokyo!
    I can’t enjoy a beverage down at my esplanade or beach without being fined. Why? This country is Nanny beyond a joke.

    • BobinOz February 17, 2020, 4:31 pm |

      I have actually written about this on another page Brett, and when I did, a lot of people living here were genuinely shocked when I stated that drinking alcohol in public was not allowed.

      People were saying that loads of people drink in public, on the beaches, around barbecues, in the parks, and nobody gets arrested. In my 12+ years here, I have never seen anybody arrested for drinking in public and I’ve seen thousands of people do it.

      As you say though, it is illegal. Are you saying you have actually been fined for drinking in public?

      Anyway, you might like to read the article…


  • Jane March 11, 2016, 11:02 am |

    Hi Bob. It is not just the fatalities that are the problem. It’s all the fights and injuries unrestricted drinking causes. I suggest you look at the views of the staff of Emergency at St Vincent’s. They have much less work to do with the lockout laws. It’s not just statistics any of them will tell that they are no where near as busy on weekends. However the problem is the lockout laws do not apply to the Star – so RPA is now coping with the brunt of youth’s need to have unrestricted drinking hours.

    Totally agree with Frank – you do not need to keep drinking in a bar to 5.00am to enjoy yourself. I suspect I am of the same vintage as Frank and recall leaving the pub by midnight. If we wanted to party on we could take the grog home and party. However maybe we weren’t as resilient as you guys I only recall partying on to 5.00am once or twice, and we had stopped drinking hours earlier. Nor was there the violence you seem to think is going happen. The reality is if you do not have
    the expectation of a right to drink in a bar until 5.00am there is little angst about leaving at 1.00am. There certainly was no expectation that a big night out meant drinking until 5.00am.

    BTW the minority who do get into trouble (just as bike riders who don’t wear bike helmets and have accidents) affect me as much as you. Our society has to pay for the medical care and for the lives of disability for those who are injured. I can think of better uses for my Medicare payments and taxes than patching up the results of unrestricted drinking, but as a civilized society we must take care of those whose own or another’s stupidly has caused the injury. So I fully support any law that prevents the injury.
    Furthermore when someone is seriously injured their families often have to care for them. Ask those families what they think of the lockout laws. It’s too late for their family but the lockout laws may prevent it happening to another family.

    You live in this society and that means compromises. If you really think this compromise really outweighs the other good things Australia has to offer I would be surprised. You don’t have to agree with the laws, but I think the arguments against them made in your blog and the comments are pretty selfish and immature.

    • BobinOz March 11, 2016, 7:26 pm |

      I can assure you my comments on not selfish Jane, or immature. Like you and Frank, I am long past the days of partying until the early hours, but I am thoroughly against ridiculous nanny state laws that prevent the youngsters who do want to do that from enjoying themselves as they would like to.

      The vast majority of party loving people and drinkers are not violent, so why should they pay for the misdemeanours of a very small minority? What we need to do in this country is police these things properly, not ban them.

      Other countries, most notably around Europe, have 24-hour drinking and have done for many years. They don’t have these problems, we need to get to the root of it, rather than becoming party poopers.

      Oh, and while I’m at it, I have no idea why fully grown adults have to wear cycle helmets in this country. Another ridiculous nanny state law that just makes people not bother with cycling at all.

      Statistically you have more chance of getting a head injury walking down the stairs than riding a bike, thousands and thousands of people ride bikes without helmets around Europe, most notably in Holland.

      Give adults the choice, don’t treat them like babies.

  • Frank Gilling February 10, 2016, 7:31 am |

    Hi Bob, its me again. Reading ALL the comments and your replies I see a common thread about decisions about drinking laws made by the AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT. Just for the record, it is not the Australian Government making decisions, it it various STATE GOVERNMENTS making decisions about drinking laws. MOst obviously the comments from overseas readers are not well informed and know nothing about the State and Federal Laws. I am sure you do. Pardon me for shouting.

    • BobinOz February 10, 2016, 6:17 pm |

      Absolutely right Frank, it is State government making these decisions. I think my article makes that quite clear stating the problem is in Sydney which is in New South Wales and that it may soon be coming to Brisbane which is under the Queensland State Government.

      On the other hand, for example, Melbourne which is Victoria State Government do not have lockout laws at all, they tried them at one stage, they failed miserably and they dropped them after a couple of months.

      Other states should learn from Victoria. Thanks for pointing out Frank.

  • Phoebe February 9, 2016, 10:43 pm |

    Hey Bob,

    As a 21-year old Aussie, this is definitely one of the things that sticks in my craw. I know – shocking! A 21-year old is angered over strict drinking laws. It’s revolutionary! /sarcasm

    I actually never really paid attention to any of it until I lived in Byron Bay for 6 months last year. Lock-out there was 1am. Yep – Byron Bay, one of the main party capitals of Australia, refuses entry to anyone after 1am.

    The problem is that people aren’t going to stop drinking into the wee hours of the morning if that’s what they want to do. Instead, they’ll just relocated their partying to areas like unpatrolled beaches, or dark streets. And because there are no security guards or people trained in First Aid around, people are more likely to end up in dangerous situations.

    I understand what the government is trying to achieve with their stricter drinking laws, but I also feel like they rushed the introduction of the new regulations, without considering possible repercussions or alternatives.

    Great post – definite food for thought!

    • BobinOz February 10, 2016, 12:11 am |

      Byron Bay has 1 AM lockouts as well? Ridiculous.

      Good point, where do all the people turfed out and locked out go to? Yes, they could head to a beach or a park and continue partying, that’s one option. Here’s another scenario.

      I like a good drink, but I’m not a violent person. If I liked a good drink and I was a violent person as well, and I ended up walking the streets after 1 AM because no pub would let me in, I think I’d be pretty angry.

      Especially as I walked past pub after pub and could see all those people still inside that pub through the window having fun with me stuck outside.

      I think if I was a violent person I would be more inclined than ever to punch anyone who came anywhere near me in this situation, being so angry. But as I’ve made quite clear, I’m not a violent person, so I’d probably just end up walking home. The chances of another violent person who was pretty angry because he couldn’t get into any of the pubs after 1 AM crossing my path and punching me though, I would think, would be pretty high.

      I’m not sure our politicians are really thinking this through.

  • Minda February 9, 2016, 8:34 pm |

    This does bring up a rather interesting discussion, in all provinces in Canada there are curfews for bars but the curfew time is decided by each province. I grew up in Ontario, and am currently living in Quebec. In Ontario the legal drinking age is 19 and all bars and clubs are closed by 2am, in Quebec the legal drinking age is 18 and all bars and clubs are closed by 3am – with the exception during large hockey (or other sports I guess…) events in which case this will be pushed to 5am.
    From personal experience, I saw a lot more fighting when I was going out in Ontario than I do now in Quebec and lets not forget that the hockey riots in Vancouver still happened even with curfew…..
    This past summer Montreal ran a trial period on an extended curfew for the city’s most popular clubbing and bar areas (St. Laurent and Crescent). What is interesting, is that these laws have been in Canada for generations so the bars didn’t really make more money, most people still left around 3am – 4am.
    Adding or changing curfew’s won’t change the fact that some people will still fight when they drink, it only changes when people decide to fight while drunk. Crime may be down, but it will likely rise again once people adjust to the curfew and simply start their nights earlier.

    • BobinOz February 9, 2016, 11:54 pm |

      I agree with you, it’s really nothing to do with the time, if people want to fight they will fight whenever they want.

      When I was a youth, in the UK pubs would shut 11 PM, so people would fight sometime around midnight. Change the pub closing hours to 1 AM, then they just fight in the early hours of the morning.

      One would have thought that if you could keep the bars open till 5 AM, people would be just too tired to fight, but no, the government thinks it’s a good idea to shut the bars earlier.

      The recent one punch death tragedy that took place in Brisbane occurred, apparently, at 3:30 AM. Do our politicians really think that if they shut the bars at 2 AM they could have saved that? They are even suggesting that some bars can stay open till 3 AM with a 1 AM lockout, how would have that helped?

      The time matters not, violent thugs are violent thugs, they don’t care what the time is and it’s those thugs who need to be controlled, not closing hours.

  • Frank Gilling February 9, 2016, 5:52 pm |

    Hi Bob, I guess my age is going to cloud my response and will probably cloud your reply. When I was a youth living in Sydney, bars etc closed by 1am. What has changed where you need to go drinking until 5am? What is wrong with going out to dinner then dancing and a few drinks and finish by 1am. You are correct there are incidents in all cities where alcohol is enjoyed. We should not forget the distress of the family and friends of the person killed. Of course the family and friends of the aggressor will go through distress. I am a survivor of alcohol fuelled one punch “King Hit” aggression which knocked me unconscious. The aggressor was drinking… I was not. I think you will find that most of the aggression came from a person affected by alcohol on somebody who was not. Who cares about the feelings of those who want to go and get drunk and create chaos. I care for the victim.

    • BobinOz February 9, 2016, 11:34 pm |

      Frank, like yourself, I’m not interested in drinking till 5 o’clock in the morning either. But that’s what people do these days, and it doesn’t automatically mean more violence.

      In fact, the earlier you shut the bars, the more likely there is to be trouble. For example, if all bars shut at 1 AM as they used to in the old days, then everybody drinks as much as they can before closing time meaning they are often consuming as much alcohol in a shorter space of time than if they were allowed to spread it out until 2 AM, 3 AM or even 5 AM.

      With all the bars shutting at 1 AM, they all hit the streets to make the way home at around the same time increasing the risk of violence as more people interact after heavy drinking.

      Shutting bars earlier is old thinking, and I don’t give a rats what the so-called ‘statistics’ show in this Sydney lockout thing, they are claiming a 40% or so reduction in violence, we all know that statistics can say anything we want whenever we want.

      This is all about controlling the people, and it’s wrong. The majority should not have their enjoyment ruined by the minority. Simple as.

      Have a click on the link to the Telegraph I put in my response to Ruthie below, you’ll see what happened in the UK when they gave up on these ridiculous lockout laws.

      I care for the victim every bit as much as you do, but there are better ways of protecting our citizens than this.

  • Ronny February 7, 2016, 8:30 am |

    This makes me think of the US prohibition.

    And I share the previous message about binge drinking.

    Government will encourage heavy drinkers to stay home and they will avoid to be on the streets, avoid to hit (young) strangers. Doing that the recent dramatic events would not shake the opinion again. However, domestic violence…

  • Ruthie February 6, 2016, 2:21 pm |

    This just encourages binge drinking. In the UK, most establishments have a curfew time for entry. This encourages people to drink a lot quickly, get into club and drink a lot quickly again in the 2-3 hours available to them.
    Alternatively, on the continent , bars and clubs are open until at least 6am. They don’t liven up until 3am. I have never experienced drunken or violent behaviour.
    You are more likely to experience alcohol fulled aggression where fast binge drinking occurs.
    Knee jerk reaction from the Australian Government. Shallow baseline thinking.

    • BobinOz February 8, 2016, 5:03 pm |

      According to this article in the Telegraph from May 2015, the drinking laws changed quite dramatically in the UK in 2005, and for the better.

      24-hour licensing has massively reduced binge drinking, the article makes a very good read, perhaps some of our Aussie politicians should take a look at it.

  • Andre February 6, 2016, 11:27 am |

    Couldnt agree more, Bob! Australia is turning more Orwellian every year. They tell you what time you should be going to bed, what you need to wear when riding a bike.. next year we’ll be forced to wear helmets when walking in the park.

    • BobinOz February 8, 2016, 4:54 pm |

      Ah, yes, the bike helmet laws, another stupid one. Statistically it’s more dangerous walking down the stairs than riding a bike, but that doesn’t stop the authorities from forcing fully grown adults to wear bike helmets to ride a bike here.

      They are all laughing at us in Amsterdam.

  • James McCormack February 5, 2016, 10:18 pm |

    Good for you Bob. My family are on the cusp of leaving Switzerland (via UK) to live in Australia. Brizzy, Melbs and Perth are on our target list.

    One of my biggest hesitations about Australia is the government nannying culture such as the Sydney lock-out laws. There seems to be too much interference from the state in people’s every day lives.

    An Aussie friend of mine in Brisbane confirmed that in some states you need a qualified electrician to change a light bulb!!!!!

    • BobinOz February 8, 2016, 3:07 pm |

      Well, changing a lightbulb is a bit of an exaggeration, we are allowed to do that. But in some states, it may even be in all states, you are supposed to get a qualified electrician to change a plug on an appliance.

      Really quite ridiculous.

      I’m afraid there are far too many stupid nanny laws in this country, it really is my number one hate here.

      • Rajeev February 9, 2016, 12:58 pm |

        Hey Bobb

        I am a great fan of your blogs,simply because they are so informative.I am an Indian and plan to move to australia this May on a permenant resident visa.I am coming all alone on i189 visa and my family is not accompanying me immediately.

        I am interested in blogging.Do inform me if I can contribute in any way?

        Also I greatly value your tips in settling and travelling across australia.

        • BobinOz February 9, 2016, 8:53 pm |

          Glad you like my website Rajeev, and that it’s been helpful to you. As for contributing, it is extremely rare for me to include content written by other people, I think I’ve done it may be two or three times. Mostly everything is written by me.

          But if you can come up with something interesting and well-written that I think would be useful to my readers, then let me know about it by private email and we can talk about it. You can find a link to my contact page in the footer. Thanks, Bob

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