Bendigo club and pub owners support one-punch laws

EDITORIAL: Coward's punch laws essential

BENDIGO publicans and nightclub owners have added their support for new laws to curb violent attacks and 'coward punches'.

The state government is considering following the lead of New South Wales - where mandatory eight-year jail sentences have been introduced for people who commit one-punch fatalities.

Lockouts at Sydney pubs and clubs were also reined in to 1.30am, as part of the crackdown.

Black Swan Hotel proprietor Andreas Bazzani said there needed to be a strong message to deter "cowardly" offenders.

"People need to realise that it just takes one punch and for someone to fall back and hit their head and that's the end of their life," he said.

"There’s no reason someone committing these sorts of offences should be given any mercy whatsoever." 

Mr Bazzani said measures such as the 2am lockout in Bendigo and the rise of CCTV cameras have helped decrease the level of late-night violence in the city.

But he said fights and unprovoked attacks still occurred too often.

“These sort of attacks can happen anywhere, any time," he said.

"There’s been one death in Bendigo (from a one-punch assault), and another two close ones." 

“We want people to be able to go out and have a good time and get home safely."

Shamrock Hotel general manager Jim Smith said he believed the amount of overall violence in nightclub areas was declining. But he said the type of violence and thuggish behaviour had become more concerning in recent years.  

"This type of violence is quite different," he said.

"I think a lot of it is drug-related. You see people on ice or some of these more radical drugs, they have a tendency to be more violent. It is much, much different to your average drunk."

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Brougham Arms Hotel owner Scott MacUmber said repeat violent offenders should not be allowed into pubs and clubs.

He said there needed to be tougher measures to bar people from licenced venues, such as using ID scanners to bring up their criminal record.

"If they’ve got assaults or anything on their record they shouldn’t be allowed in," he said.

“I know myself as a venue operator I don’t want those sort of people in there. Anyone who has to hit someone is a fool in my eyes." 

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Mr MacUmber said in his 18 years in the hotel industry he saw the majority of attacks happen in late-night venues, and outside on the street.

He said people acting like idiots and "drug-fuelled warriors" were to blame.

"Sometimes I'll go out and if there are idiots in the bar I’ll just walk out and go to another pub or go home."

"A lot of my friends are the same, they just don't feel safe."

Legislation currently before the Victorian Parliament will impose mandatory two year bans from licensed premises for any offender found guilty of alcohol-fuelled violence.

A government spokesman said they will examine the new laws proposed for introduction in New South Wales and consider whether further measures should be introduced in Victoria.

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