Coward punch killers to face life in jail under new plan

COWARD punch killers could face life in jail as part of a massive plan by the Queensland government to stamp out alcohol-fuelled violence.

Premier Campbell Newman has also announced that 15 'Safe Night Precincts' will be established across Queensland and compulsory alcohol and drug education will be introduced in high schools.

Key elements of the draft Safe Night Out Strategy include:

  • Compulsory alcohol and drug education would be introduced in all Queensland schools from Years 7 to 12
  • Tougher penalties for people behaving badly or violently around licensed premises including increased on the spot fines for causing a public nuisance, refusing to leave licensed premises and obstructing police
  • 'Coward punch' deaths will be punishable through a new offence of unlawful striking causing death with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and offenders required to serve 80% of their sentence before being able to apply for parole
  • A 12 month trial of 'sober safe centres' in the Brisbane CBD where police can detain severely intoxicated people in a secure, supervised centre for up to eight hours
  • Empowering police to issue banning orders and ensuring police have the resources to have a presence and ability to respond quickly to alcohol and drug related violence
  • Stronger and better co-ordinated action to ensure licensees provide a safe environment and comply with liquor licensing rules, including 'mystery shopper' style tests
  • Mandatory ID scanners in venues trading after midnight in 'Safe Night Precincts'
  • An awareness campaign, including advertising, to promote clear standards of responsible behaviour for patrons, licensees and police
  • An extension of the moratorium on decisions about late night trading hours to 31 August 2014 to allow the measures in the action plan to be established and take effect.

Mr Newman said the draft Safe Night Out Strategy was the most comprehensive action plan in the country dealing with the problem of alcohol and drug related violence.

"We want both locals and tourists to be able to go out on a Friday or Saturday night and have a great time without it being ruined by the bad behaviour of violent and aggressive drunks," he said.

"A safe night out is a great night out.

"This comprehensive plan targets troublemakers and makes them accountable for their actions, while still ensuring the vast majority who do the right thing can have a good time and enjoy themselves safely."

Mr Newman said education and awareness campaigns both within schools and the wider community were crucial to promote the importance of responsible behaviour.

"Young people need to know what sort of behaviour is expected of them when they reach drinking age," Mr Newman said.

"Just as the culture around drink driving has changed, so too must community attitudes to excessive drinking and drug use.

"We are calling on all Queenslanders to get involved to change the culture, to restore responsibility and respect, and to ensure bad behaviour is no longer tolerated.

"We want Queensland to be the safest place in Australia for people to go out and enjoy themselves."

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the draft Safe Night Out Strategy was developed following months of consultation with Queenslanders including an online survey that attracted more than 12,000 responses.

"Rather than having a knee jerk reaction to this complex issue, we have taken the time to listen to Queenslanders," Mr Bleijie said.

"This is a comprehensive plan for change. It's about protection, policing and prevention.

"We now want to hear from the community about their thoughts on the draft Safe Night Out Strategy."

Find out more by reading the Safe Night Out Strategy and then have your say on the Safe Night Out Strategy

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