1School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia. email@example.com.
Regulating late-night alcohol sales to prevent violence continues to be hotly debated in Australia. From July this year, Queensland required premises to stop serving alcohol (last drinks) by 3 am in entertainment precincts and by 2 am in the rest of the state. The Government made legislative provision for 1 am lockouts in entertainment precincts but at the time of writing has not committed to introducing them. Lockouts, also known as one-way-doors, permit patrons to remain drinking in premises until last drinks but deny entry to new patrons. In Newcastle, New South Wales, lockouts and earlier closing of licensed premises were introduced in 2008. Evidence that these produced large reductions in assault informed the 2014 Sydney restrictions that are currently under review. The global research evidence for last drinks regulations is compelling: trading extensions of as little as one h increase harm, and similarly modest restrictions reduce harm. In contrast, the effectiveness of lockouts, a phenomenon unique to Australasia, is uncertain. The Newcastle, Sydney and Queensland reforms are a stepwise progression in alcohol harm countermeasures, a welcome example of evidence-based public policy. However, the aetiologies of these policy changes were complex. I present accounts of each and offer commentary on the interplay between scientific evidence, public health advocacy, politics, and chance occurrences that preceded these significant changes.