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Early AM lock-out for Melbourne pubs -

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ELEANOR HALL: And staying in Melbourne - the city's night life has often been regarded as superior
to Sydney's with it late night bar and clubs.

But assaults and drunken behaviour have been on the increase in Melbourne in the last 12 months.

And now the Brumby Government is cracking down with a new state alcohol action plan.

Moving from one bar to the other after 2am will now be banned in four key areas around the city.
The Government has also put a 12-month freeze on late night liquor licences.

In Melbourne, Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: Hundreds of thousands of people crowd into the inner city of Melbourne on Friday
and Saturday nights, drawn to the centre by bars and clubs open up to 24 hours a day.

But in recent months, a significant increase in alcohol-fuelled violence after midnight has
seriously troubled police, health authorities, business owners and now the Government.

Today the Brumby Government launched a five year alcohol action plan worth $37 million to address
the problem.

JOHN BRUMBY: I think if you were to look objectively now, sort of where we were and where we've
come to - most people would say that we have just moved the balance a bit too far in that direction
and we've got to push it back a bit and that is what we are doing today.

ALISON CALDWELL: The centre piece of the plan is a so called lockout measure, whereby from tonight,
anyone who leaves a bar or club after 2am can't go back in and venues can't allow patrons to enter
between 2am and 7am.

The idea will be trialled for three months.

Chief Commissioner of Police Christine Nixon says as well as stemming the violence, it will also
help police gain intelligence.

CHRISTINE NIXON: I know that some people will say will it make a difference. It does make a
difference. We know it does. We've seen it within Victoria make a difference to the way that young
people drink, the way they wander from one premises to the next and what we've seen is, Minister
said is sort of one to three AM in the morning when they go from one place to the other, they run
into each other. They'll fight and serious injuries often occur.

ALISON CALDWELL: For the next twelve months, no more late night liquor licences will be granted.

Liquor licence enforcement will be boosted with 30 new inspectors.

A major concern is that venues are routinely breaching licences by selling alcohol to people who
are already drunk.

Police are considering using so called underage operatives in to catch bar staff who do.

Christine Nixon again.

CHRISTINE NIXON: It's actually been trialled in different places throughout Australia where they
have simply just monitored the person. Sent them in on their own. They've had people around and
watch them buy packaged liquor and they are underage and then taken action against those people. So
that is the kind of strategy.

ALISON CALDWELL: The lock-out system is already being used in Queensland and parts of regional
Victoria.

The city of Bendigo has been using the system since September last year and recorded a 25 per cent
drop in assaults in the areas most at risk.

Paul Newman is a licensing inspector, he says it's a good start.

PAUL NEWMAN: I was out myself this morning until 3am and I witnessed, still, we've been at it now
for seven months or so and there are some of those patrons that walk out and expect to go back in
after 2 o'clock. That can't happen and they do get frustrated.

But look, I think at the end of the day, if it continues on, it will be a generational thing and I
think that down the track, the new generation of drinkers that come along, won't know any
different.

ALISON CALDWELL: The Australian Hotels Association represents pubs.

Spokesman Brian Kearney says members have tentatively welcomed the measures.

BRIAN KEARNEY: In respect of the lock-outs, we would be supportive on the basis that the community
is increasingly concerned about the violent, drunken and anti-social behaviour in late night
entertainment precincts. So well-targeted interventions that can help in reducing that behaviour
are to be supported.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Australian Hotels Association spokesman Brian Kearney ending that report by
Alison Caldwell.