There was a sense of déjà vu as we nursed our New Years hangovers and started mentally preparing ourselves for the dreaded but inevitable return to the grind. It had been a relatively uneventful Christmas break for me in terms of activities, in terms of news and to top it off the boxing day test was the dullest we’d had in years. Personally I was frustrated that despite my passion for doing very little, I had wasted my time off. This was supposed to be like the Summer of George, damnit! Although now that I think about it, it was exactly like the Summer of George…
Soon enough though, much like two years ago, news started coming through that there had been two cowardly assaults over the Christmas & New Years period. Almost two years to the day since a similar incident in Sydney occurred, the terms “cowards punch” and “alcohol related violence” would be dominating headlines again. In hindsight little did I know how quickly attention would be diverted to an utterly frivolous matter (which says a lot about what society has become, but that’s a rant for another time and place). But nevertheless, some tragic events had occurred and people were talking about them.
A young lad, Cole Miller, had been killed in a pointless, unprovoked assault courtesy of another piece of shit who should have been
swallowed spat out into the toilet and flushed. Fewer details are readily available regarding Trevor Duroux and his 18-year-old murderer, but we know enough to add it to the long of Piece of Shit Fuelled Violence. My thoughts go all of their families. Days later more news was coming to hand of another gutless act of POSFV, this time in Canberra of all places.
Back in Sydney we had another similar situation occurring. The electronic music scene was once again in the news for all the wrong reasons. A premier of NSW was once again responding to demands from parts of the media who don’t feel as though facts belong in journalism and the Bored Mothers Society. And social media was in meltdown with panic and hysteric coming from everywhere. Pathetic rent a cause types were even involved, after all there were likes to be won!
To top it off just this weekend a poorly written report about an attack on a member of the Potbelleez surfaced. Fortunately the outcome of this assault was not as serious as the others, but yet again here we had another example of POSRV running amok and another example of gutter journalism from gutter dwelling journalists looking to spread fear through outright lies. However despite the calibre of the reporter here and the fact that I’m sure we’ve all wanted to coward punch a member of the Potbelleez at one point or another, the point remained that yet another thuggish act had been committed. And no doubt grog would be his foolproof alibi.
All in all, this felt like January 2014 all over again, and that’s when it occurred to me that it had been almost two years since Sydney was sent to its room and told to go to bed, Jessica. Given recent events in Queensland and the storm brewing over in festival land, it felt like as good a time as any to reflect on the last two years and how much everything had changed. And as I soon realised, how little had been done.
No need to go over the who/what/when/where/why all over again, but if you’re keen to refresh your memory or you just want to read a good yarn, it was summed up brilliantly here. What I do want to rant about though is what happened afterwards and why did it all go so badly?
Everyone knows we were pretty much fucked right from the get go. This became apparent to me personally within minutes of the announcement being made. I was in the cross at the time and sure enough, news crews raced from all corners, eager for the coveted spot outside opposite the Coke sign, which would surely put them in the best position to cash in on the interest and win the all important ratings war. And who knows, maybe even a Logie.
Naturally, I decided to wander down the road and stalk them all, eager to eavesdrop on their conversations with residents, visitors, workers, business owners, people of all ages and all walks of life. Except that wasn’t what they were doing at all. After spending a while indulging in one of my favourite pastime, people watching, it became very clear that they had no interest in gauging the reaction of the wider community and had a very specific target demographic. No prizes for guessing which one. After noticing them only approaching what I, a 28 year old at the time, would call “middle aged” men and women. Or to put it bluntly, nobody who looked a day under 50 years odd. These were people either not from the area, those who had recently moved in or long term residents who had moved into the area when they were younger and enjoyed the lively vibe but had now aged to a point where they do not enjoy people having a good time.
After doing a few not so subtle walk byes and continuing to be ignored I decided to politely approach them and offer my own $0.02. I also asked why they hadn’t bothered to stop anyone who wasn’t of Woodstock attending age and they
said they simply hadn’t seen any made up a bullshit story. I ended up having a chat on camera which went for a fair while, and the journo and the crew were quite surprised with what I had to say and the way it was articulated. They seemed fairly stoked with the footage and suggested it was a great, new angle. So naturally I told pretty much everyone I’d ever met to look out for my big 5 minutes of fame, forgetting which station they were even from. Come that evening I got my 5 seconds of fame on Sky, but those 5 seconds they chose to air were that irrelevant to the rest of what was said I couldn’t even tell you now what was said. But it was obvious from that point we were screwed.
From that point onwards the next few weeks were fairly hectic with very young person who still had a passion for the Cross and the nightlife vowing to fight the proposed legislation til the bitter end. What actually happened from there though was a hastily organised forum with questionable speakers courtesy of inthemix. Nothing really eventuated though and there was no follow up, despite best the intentions and efforts of one of the few allies in a position of power, State MP Alex Greenwich. Alex did provide us with a fascinating insight however. We discovered that when the documents were drawn up and distributed to members for them to assess, it was largely ignored with the majority opting to vote in favour of legislation they hadn’t even read. Bazza and the Libs pushed through what we now know was a blatant cash grab,and Labor was either too spineless or too preoccupied with how to score points from it to object.
“Alcohol fuelled violence” had been struck a fatal blow, while the media and the clueless boisterously cheered what they not only perceived as a win, but as a win they were personally responsible for. None more so than Ralph Kelly, father of Thomas. More on his campaign in an upcoming piece. Never mind the fact that it a made up issue that never actually existed and was just another 3 word slogan everyone always loves. They had successfully created change, damnit! Together, they had stopped the violence!!
As you can see from the above graph (data sourced 8/1/16 here), violence figures have obviously decreased since the lockouts came in to effect. But they were already on the way down and had been for 10 years. When you consider the vast difference in people frequenting the area, those post numbers are pathetic and bordering on being statistically irrelevant. Hell, if I obtained all the relevant data it may have even technically gone up! Obviously drug and liquor offences have “increased” due to police actually hitting the streets and policing since the lockout was implemented. A shame they couldn’t be bothered having a street presence earlier, lives could have been saved.
But the really interesting data here is in relation to “breaching AVO”, “assault police”, “harassing and threatening behaviour” and “indecent / sexual assault”. Now I know you can get data to say or mean anything you want, but hear me out anyway. I took something from this. The increase in AVO breaches is quite simple and confirms what has been obvious for a long time. Violent offenders aren’t being kept off the street. Simply, the courts are failing miserably and are out of touch with society. Criminals know IF they are picked up and charged, they’ll be back on the streets in no time.
Regardless of arrest numbers, courts are notoriously soft on violent criminals, allowing them to re-offend with ease. No regard for the safety of the victim or the public. Pieces of shit don’t respect pieces of paper. AVOs, suspended sentences, bail, probation, etc all mean nothing to someone who is just wired to be a fuckwit. And these types are going to commit violent crimes whether they’ve had one drink, ten drinks or zero drinks. And what time of day or night is certainly not a factor, as shown in the two prominent Sydney deaths, both well before the clock struck midnight.
The increases found in that data all suggest that respect for authority and fellow human is lower than ever and those who have a disposition towards violence and behaving like a piece of shit are being allowed to run rampant. Alcohol related violence is an absolute myth, but fuckwit related violence is more real than ever.
Apologies for the crappy formatting, but what do these three have in common? If you answered “Pretty much everything” then you’re correct. None of these guys were just drinking and turned from angels into thugs. They have been shown to have a history of drug and/or steroid abuse and were most likely on it at the time. And most relevant, they all have a fairly extensive record of violence and being a piece of shit. And pieces of shit are still running amok thanks to a soft society that allows them to. In TWO YEARS authorities have not only failed to solve the problem that never existed in the first place, they haven’t even attempted to solve what the actual problem is.
At least once a day I see some piece of shit in the news, doing what pieces of shit do. Just check out this pillar of the community, who decided to abandon his baby so he could level his “mate”, only to then go through his wallet and tell the cops the guy was jumped by two blokes, despite being on CCTV. He copped 8 months and a small fine but is out on bail as he has made the pathetic decision to refuse all responsibility for his actions and argue the toss. No doubt his appeal will be successful once a bleeding heart magistrate hears his sob story about his issues with booze and just being a piece of shit in general. Fantastic.
Or what about this group of go-getters who decided to set upon an innocent man who dared disturb their wholesome Wednesday night catch up, beating him almost to death. What wholesome activities did this nosey gentleman disturb you ask? Oh you know, nothing too exciting. They were just casually setting another guy on fire. No doubt this bunch (who have yet to be arrested) spend their days volunteering with the elderly and whatnot and only become monsters when the demon drink is involved.
And just to show that pieces of shit can be found anywhere, here we have this piece of shit who decided to beat the shit out his uber driver who was driving him home. Not content with just engaging in behaviour that would see the family pet put down, he is now suing his victim, for having the audacity to film him without his permission.This international ambassador was also drunk at the time and is a model citizen when he’s sober, obviously right? Other than suing people he bashes he’s a great guy! Maybe he’s always drink? Maybe he’s just a piece of shit.
Admittedly makes it pretty easy for people to identify a perceived common denominator here. It’s far easier to just claim grog is a magic potion that turns mild-mannered, respectful members of the community into beasts capable of unspeakable evil than to consider the possibility that some people are just scum who should be put down. Regardless though, even if it was all because of alcohol, what the fuck is closing down a city early going to do??? What does it have to do with anything? Never mind the fact people can drink whenever they like. What late night establishment of any repute would allow these pieces of shit in their premises??? One of the Sydney pieces of shit was in fact denied entry from multiple bars in the cross. The bars and clubs were doing their job and following the law and RSA regulations to the letter. If some piece of shit gets off their face in their own home and then gets denied entry to a bar and is left to roam the streets, who is responsible for making sure they don’t run a mischief??? The bars they were never a customer of??? No, obviously that’s absurd. Yet that’s pretty much the premise of the legislation. If only we had a “force” or group of people who watched over the streets, made sure ordinary people could go about their day and somehow detained perpetrators of crime….
How can it be solved? It’s not my job to work that out, and besides my only suggestion would be frowned upon in this day and age. But they’ve had almost two years now, and not a thing has been done. There have been numerous publications over the years with suggestions such as this and this but it would seem anything that attacks the root of the problem are placed in the too hard basket.
Extensive reports into potential links between alcohol and violence have found very little. A recent paper on drinking culture in Australia & New Zealand by British anthropologist Dr Anne Fox noted the following –
- There is no simple causal relationship between alcohol and violent behaviour.
- There is no evidence that, for most normal, healthy individuals, the presence of alcohol in the brain results in, encourages or unleashes violence.
- Alcohol can, in some cultures and situations, be a facilitator of aggression if aggression is there to begin with, both in the individual and in the cultural environment. It does not produce it where it doesn’t already exist.
- The disinhibiting and anxiety-reducing effects of alcohol lead to pro-social behaviour more often than violence. The connection between violence and drinking remains a minority one.
- The cognitive effects of alcohol lead to “myopic concentration” and to more delayed, rather than more impulsive, thinking and action
Naturally, the pro-lockout campaigners have rubbished these claims simply on the basis that the report was commissioned by Lion. Totally ignoring the fact that Dr Fox is a respected expert in her field and “has specialised in the study of drinking cultures for the past 20 years”. Yet those who have an agenda that she disagrees with have the nerve to attack her credibility and that of her report based on purely their own biased, anecdotal evidence? They dare to suggest she would tarnish her life work in the name of, what exactly? What would her motivation be??? If this doesn’t give you an idea of how stubborn and deluded those driving the campaign are then I don’t know what will.
Police have used their freed up resources tackling petty crime that places a burden on an already failing judicial system. But then again, now that anyone can join the so called “force” it’s not surprising the two 5 and a half foot junior constables partnered up walking the streets don’t want to risk injury or death by tackling real crime. The big units don’t have confidence in their partner having their back and basically we have a force that is considered a joke by criminal elements.
Sometimes I think a return to the good old days wouldn’t be so bad. Would love to see how these tough guys fared back in those days…
And nothing has changed for the good guys either. I mean, other than the loss of dozens of businesses and hundreds, possibly thousands of jobs. For all the talk in the first few month, very little action was actually taken. Like most causes that rally the masses, this one went cold rather quickly. A few groups had been set up and had decent numbers behind them, but more often than not there never really seemed to be any unity or cooperation.
Keep Sydney Open is the one group that does have their shit together and have good people behind it. Tyson Koh is well spoken and a great campaigner for what we all want. If you want a group to get behind, it’s these guys. Tyson has tirelessly lobbied for the cause and deserves to be commended.
Save Our Nightlife was another than started out strongly, but got lost a bit along the way. I personally many clashes with the page. The rally was an outstanding starting point 2 years ago but good intentions were once again shot in the foot. Credibility was clearly not on the guest list, with the event hosted by none other than everyone’s favourite former world record holder turned certified tin foil crackpot and anti-vaxxer, Smokin Joe!
Throw in an Australian Hotels Association (who now have a number of their pokie dens excluded from the laws) that didn’t want a bar of it (yeah intended) and online media outlets who made their living through the scene yet had realised that picking at the carcass would be more profitable. And as if that wasn’t anti lockout campaigners were attacking other anti lockout campaigners.
#dontbeadickhead was perhaps the best chance the industry and scene had seen, but unfortunately we’ll never know. It was mocked and ignored by pompous morons too concerned with losing the spotlight than actually working with two men of considerable influence and power, John Ibrahim & Kyle Sandilands. John came out in national media saying he was sick of the “gronks” ruining the cross and would back any campaign financially. Kyle could lobby and influence his enormous radio audience which included many from demographics that were mainly pro-lockout. But all the social sites who were supposed to be on our side shot it down ruthlessly. Google it Some argued they didn’t approve of the spokespeople for image reasons. What rubbish. Regardless, nobody else with the ability to get our issue into the spotlight was stepping up.
Now this isn’t to say there haven’t been some pretty fucking admirable efforts at getting the case heard. If you haven’t watched Spice owner Murat Kilics keynote address at IMS Asia do yourself a favour and watch it. It was brilliant.
It was an amazing, inspiring speech. Said all the right things and summed up what everyone has been thinking the whole time. It was delivered passionately without being emotionally irrational. It was perfect. But it was delivered by the wrong person. Nobody can question what Murat has done for the scene over the years. We’ve all had amazing
nights mornings at Spice and this guy has devoted his life to the industry he loves. So why was he the wrong person? .
He had a target on his back from the start, and deciding to shut up shop and move just outside the zone only added more motivation to their witch hunt. Never mind the fact he was just trying to save his business and do what’s best for his family. It was seen as an act of defiance intended to make a mockery of the law. The fact that once outside the zone in their eyes he oversaw an establishment that allowed staff to be popping pingaz, drugs to be sold in the toilets, bumps to be freely distributed on the dancefloor and drinks to be licked off the floor (all activities that this rant fully endorses, except maybe the floor licking). Whether any of this is actually true or not didn’t matter. If there was EVER a time to be running a tight fucking ship that was the time. Instead it was perceived as “fuck you, party time” in the eyes of OLGR and when they’ve got it in for you, they’re always going to win.
Warehouse parties that exploded shortly afterwards. Nothing beats an crazy fucking warehouse shindig where the promoters have made an effort to put on a truly amazing party. But it kinda takes away from the scene when there is a hastily thrown together carry on in every second industrial lot. Especially when said shoddy events inadvertently tipped off the police to all the others. All so people could cash in and take the piss out of the laws, all while contributing to the death of many businesses battling on and trying to do the right thing.
And now festivals are in the crosshairs. This is a time harm minimisation in terms of drugs should be a big topic. However rather than tackling the topic with maturity, people are blaming the government for what is a fairly reasonable response given the admittedly misguided concerns of their constituents. It’s not the governments fault
fucking amateurs kids these days are out there absolutely levelling themselves. I once heard a wise man give out some of the best advice anyone will ever say or hear. 3 simple words.
“Handle. Your. Shit.”
People are continuing to only worry about the direct impact on them personally, worried about missing out on the next Stereosonic. Rather than giving the do gooders more fuel for their fire, we should be about proving them wrong. Not that festivals are really for me these days, but hey these guys are having fun!
What did some people expect from the government when rather than trying to work towards some kind of compromise or solution they carried on like Veruca Salt????
With the two year review approaching it’s fair to say the issue is dead and buried. While I’d love to as that’s despite everyones best efforts, put simply it isn’t.
Far too little has been done, far too late and nobody really gave a shit. In the age of entitlement people simply sat around assuming either somebody else would do it or the government would magically stop being mean and let you go to the school dance after all. Perfect example being that petition currently doing the rounds again. It STILL hasn’t achieved its goal of 25,00o signatures. It’s been out for well over a year. In a city of 4.25 million. Sorry everyone, but that is pitiful.
There could still be hope, I’m not privy to any current discussions if indeed there are even any going on. It can be made to work again if there is a bit of cooperation, maturity and compromise. Is anybody actively working for this? Is there any current dialogue? If so maybe something can be worked towards. I’d be happy to have a strong police presence on the streets at every night, provided they were focussing on identifying potential violent offenders and preventing violent incidents. Not walking their dogs through establishments where people are having dinner or revenue raising through being tough on jaywalking. Just having a presence on every corner so the next piece of shit who feels like doing something funny will either think twice or be picked up by an alert officer doing their j0b. Hell, I’d even have them on the trains as well looking for anyone coming in who was fucked up, aggressive or just looking for trouble. Spot a piece of shit, off the train you get. In the tank for the night. Fuck off home in the morning and don’t come back for 12 months.
In terms of repealing the lockouts, limited venues with clean records given increased hours on a trial basis to start with until we can become a functioning city again with police doing their job and adults taking responsibility for their own actions and not carrying on like dickheads. This scenario is not too far outside the realms of possibility.
If I’m looking at the glass and it’s half full then I’d say Baird has proven himself so far to be a reasonable operator with his eye on the big picture. He wants the top job one day. Given his fairly obvious efforts to make ground with the youth through his social media persona why would he want to alienate the people he will be relying on one day?
If I’m being more realistic then that’s it. Despite the fact we were fucked from the start, we still had two years to try to force change and we barely even tried. Now I’m not one for wasting time entertaining frivolous exercises, but figured Melbourne managed to successfully lobby on behalf of freedom, common sense and logic so why shouldn’t we have a crack as well. Every generation has been able to bring change to society, because they actually wanted the world to be a better place. This generation only cares about making their world a better place. Selfishness, egos and agendas are deemed more pressing issues than working together to achieve a common goal.
Fortunately there are some business still thriving in this environment, so there are still a few awesome places to go. We just have to get there a bit earlier these days. And to be honest, I’m getting too old for the laws to directly impact my freedom. I can’t remember the last time I was out past 1.30am let alone wanting to get in to another bar or club!
But I do feel as an adult I should be able to have a late night drink anywhere I damn well please because I fucking feel like it. I would also like more choices than the casino or my couch if I want to watch a premier league game or the world cup, or any other sporting event in the world who so selfishly ignore our lockout laws when scheduling games. I suppose soon we’ll have two casinos to choose from so that’s something I guess!
Time will only tell what happens from here. After being so passionate initially, I’m pretty jaded about the whole thing now. But I’m not going to say all hope is lost. Hopefully change can happen, but it’s up to everyone to make it happen.
Anyways, my ride is here so I’m out. Next time pals x