Lockouts Should Be Considered in the Cross

Osman Faruqi’s column “Alcohol & Violence” (Vol. 58, No. 10) makes some good points about Kings Cross and alcohol-related violence, especially in regard to drinking culture, venues and the availability of late-night transport. However it appears Faruqi has misinterpreted a study into venue lockout policies and is relying on this misinterpretation to oppose lockouts.

Referring to a Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) study, Faruqi says “Midnight lockouts and 3 am closing times did see a reduction in violence at the trialled venues between those hours, but there was a simultaneous increase in violence outside of those hours and outside the trialled venues.” Faruqi does not name the report, but I believe he is referring to “The impact of restricted alcohol availability on alcohol-related violence in Newcastle” (2009).

Figure 5 in this report indeed shows that after a lockout policy was imposed on venues in the Newcastle CBD, the proportion of assaults occurring from 9pm to midnight increased from about 18% to 28%. This is logical: as the percentage of assaults in each period of the day must sum to 100%, decreasing the quantity in one period must increase the proportion represented in other categories. But while a higher percentage of assaults occurred before midnight, the overall quantity of violence fell.

This can be seen more clearly in the accompanying study “Effects of restricting pub closing times on night-time assaults in an Australian city” in Table 2, which reports a decline from 99 to 67.7 assaults per quarter in the lockout area versus a steady amount in the comparison area. As the authors write, “a restriction in pub closing times to 3/3.30 a.m. in Newcastle, NSW, produced a large relative reduction in assault incidence of 37% in comparison to a control locality.”

When read in conjunction with the earlier study “The impact of later trading hours for Australian public houses (hotels) on levels of violence”, which found “a significant increase in monthly assault rates for hotels with late trading following the introduction of extended trading permits”, it’s apparent that notwithstanding Thomas Kelly’s death having occurred early in the night, restrictions on late night alcohol consumption would be worth considering amongst a range of measures to lower violence in Kings Cross.

I agree with Osman Faruqi’s support for an evidence-based discussion around alcohol policy and hope that this input is useful.

Tim Bennett

Rational Discussion, not Anti-Abortion Lobby

We were disappointed to read the online Tharunka article following our Inaugural General Meeting on August 22. The article (“Concerns as Anti-Abortion Club Convenes” August 22) amounted to nothing more than a farcical collection of fabrications and misrepresentations of LifeSoc’s first meeting, aims, and intentions as a club. The fact that the writer sought no comment from any member of our club indicated that this was not simply an act of sloppy journalism, but flagrant and disgraceful polemics.

The article made unsubstantiated accusations too myriad to address here, all unworthy of such an important voice of student democracy as Tharunka. However, as a woman and a feminist, I found claims that the club is misogynistic particularly offensive and bizarre as half the executive and membership are women.

LifeChoice is not a ‘single-issue lobby group’ as one online petition hysterically claims, but a student group wanting to do what students do best: engage in rational discussion about controversial issues which affect our community. We don’t mind people disagreeing with us; in fact, it is vital to the intellectual rigor of our club. But this should not be grounds for censorship.

I ask all students, irrespective of whether you support the values of our club, to support free speech on campus and uphold the integrity of our university.

Anna Fernon
President, LifeChoice UNSW

Editor’s Reply: “Concerns as Anti-Abortion Club Convenes” was hardly a collection of ‘fabrications and misrepresentations’ – every opinion given was either by someone present at the meeting, or someone with knowledge about the issues they referred to. We stress that these were opinions, made by UNSW students or others; part of reporting on issues is publishing dissenting views to those expressed by the participants, something we imagine your club would endorse whole-heartedly.

This piece was indeed a short report of the event, and if there was any feeling that your views went unexpressed therein, this has most certainly been rectified by a longer article published in this issue, which includes interviews with the President and Vice President of LifeChoice UNSW.

Matters of free speech, censorship, and whether your club is misogynistic (although, as one member of the Tharunka team pointed out, women can indeed by misogynistic themselves) are matters for public debate. The issue of your affiliation and whether it is valid for Arc to sponsor your society is a matter for the student union. What is a matter for the editors and writers of this magazine is whether the whole incident is newsworthy and reporting on events as factually as possible.

If your complaint is merely that people found you discussions irrational despite your attempts otherwise, you may just have to get used to that accusation when discussing moral worth. It seems your belief in free speech doesn’t extend as far as accepting it.

Elizabeth Stern
Editor

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