Foreshore Alcohol Ban Extended

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Make your voice heard at the next meeting!!

At their meeting on Feb 7th, The City of Port Philip Councillors voted to extend the temporary St Kilda foreshore alcohol ban until April pending further review and community consultation. The topic was hotly debated on the night for over 3 hours and the final vote on the matter was extremely close with 4 councillors casting against an extended ban and 4 in favour. This meant the Mayor Bernadine Voss was required to cast a 2nd deciding vote and she voted in favour of extending the ban.

This was an extremely disappointing outcome resulting in an unproven nanny state approach, which solves little but removes freedoms from the majority of people who enjoy a drink along the foreshore in a safe and responsible manner.

It’s fair to say most speakers at the recent meeting were in agreement that St Kilda beach is a fantastic resource to be enjoyed and respected while maintaining safety and cleanliness. However, this is where the agreement ended.

Victoria Police made a submission supporting a total permanent ban which I feel is an extremely lazy solution to a complex issue. One of the police officers argued that there are 800 licensed venues in Port Philip so why would people want to enjoy a drink at the beach or park?

I’m sorry Officer but this a laughable suggestion which completely misses the point and is detached from the realities of human behaviour- using your logic why would any of us bother enjoying a BBQ in a park or our gardens when we just can go and pay for a meal in a restaurant??

Claims were made that litter, unsavoury behaviour, etc. have reduced since the alcohol ban was enacted. Actual evidence to support these claims is weak and anecdotal at best, however even if there are any reductions, the reality is that these are more likely related to the massive increased police presence along the foreshore over the past few weeks, increased ranger presence, rubbish collection, the end of school holidays, less visitors to the beach, etc. rather than the effects of a total alcohol ban which infringes on our civil liberties without actually solving anything.

A total ban should be the last possible solution but unfortunately it is being propagated as the first option by several parties, many whom have blatant conflicts of interest on the matter. E.g. We heard submissions from the owners/management of several licensed venues in the vicinity such as the Stokehouse, Roberta, and other Fitzroy Street bars who seemed to suggest a public alcohol ban is the solution to all the problems of this great suburb we call St Kilda. This is a fantasy at best, and it’s also difficult to take these vendors seriously on the matter when in reality it seems they are just hoping banning alcohol in public will mean more patronage to their venues i.e. more profits in their already well-lined pockets. We also heard support for the ban from the Surf Life Saving Club – again a clear conflict of interest here given the fact the club has recently applied for a liquor licence with the stated intention of holding hundreds of functions per year serving alcohol on their premises. It’s fairly evident these vendors have no problem with alcohol consumption along the foreshore once they are the ones serving the grog and enjoying the profits!

Should we ban cars from the roads and remove this freedom from the majority of drivers because a few bad apples consume alcohol and get behind the wheel??

No. Instead enforcement activities for existing laws are carried out to catch the minority of problem drivers and prosecute/fine them while allowing the majority of law-abiding drivers to use the roads sensibly. I suggest we take the same common sense approach of actually ensuring local litter and anti-social behaviour laws are enforced instead of jumping to an ill-informed knee-jerk extreme solution of a total alcohol ban.

Anyone supporting a permanent ban as a solution, I respect your right to this view, but I would also like to meet me for a coffee and stroll down at the beach to discuss the matter further. Hopefully, I can convince you of the case for a more sensible solution than a total ban which is in reality unworkable.

To anyone who does not support this ban I strongly appeal to you to attend the next council meeting with me at 6pm on Wednesday 21 March at St Kilda Town Hall. Let’s make the presence of the silent majority on this issue felt and ensure common sense prevails!

Martin Lynch – local resident who occasionally enjoys a beer by the beach. Member of “Ban the Ban- This is St Kilda” follow us on Facebook for updates.

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