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Opinion: Lockout not solution for violence

Journalist Matthew Galea encountered the Shepparton lockout for the first time on Saturday night and shares his opinion.

MATTHEW GALEA August 5, 2014 3:55am

I had never experienced a Saturday night Shepparton lockout before until a couple of weekends ago, but now I am thinking they cause more problems than they solve.

Having gone from Noble Monks to the Aussie to Yahoo Bar, I planned to catch up with some mates at Bullion, but failed to make it to the front of the line by the dreaded 3am deadline.

Everyone was turned away and told to go home.

The common line in support of the lockout is it reduces the likelihood of alcohol or drug-induced crime.

After all, if people can’t get in to a licensed venue, they’re just going to hop into a cab and go home, right?

Wrong.

The minimum hour-long wait outside the Vic Hotel for a taxi for those without a designated driver means that simply doesn’t happen.

The reality is you have a lot of intoxicated people roaming the streets with nowhere to go.

Worse yet, it means some risk their lives and those of others by jumping into the car while under the influence of alcohol rather than waiting in the cold for a cab.

Some will accept the fact they are not getting in anywhere and stand in line for a taxi, but others will become increasingly agitated as they go from venue to venue and are told they cannot come in.

When that aggravation boils over, people start doing stupid things.

Thankfully, I did not witness anyone get hurt, but I did see one group unsuccessfully try and rush the door at Flanagan’s.

It was the sort of flashpoint that could so easily have escalated and seen someone seriously hurt.

I grew up and lived in Melbourne until moving to Shepparton to work for The News last year and in the five years since I turned 18 I haven’t seen anything like what I saw in Shepparton in central Melbourne.

In fact, the little violence I have witnessed on nights out has happened in the streets, not in licensed venues.

Obviously, alcohol-fuelled violence is an issue in the city, but as far as I’ve seen, keeping a bunch of intoxicated people out in the cold does little — if anything — to stop it.

Matthew Galea is a News sports journalist.

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