by Louise Shannon
AN ID scanning system which was introduced throughout Airlie Beach's Safe Night Precinct at the start of the month has come under fire for being poorly managed, with some pub and club owners lacking faith that the system is suitable for addressing potential violence.
The scanners - part of a Queensland Government initiative - are linked to other venues' scanners.
Police can access the details obtained by the scanners and can also upload previous banning notices for a potential patron which venues act on.
Basically, the system allows a person's ID to be cross-checked against a database of individuals who are subject to a banning order. The banning orders are transmitted to the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) from the Queensland Police Service (QPS).
The scanning system initially provides venues with a person's name, date of birth, nationality, whether the identification has expired, and whether the person is male, female or 'unknown', meaning the system can't read the card correctly.
As part of Airlie Beach's Safe Night Precinct, the ID scanners must be in operation from 10pm.
Jarryd Barclay, the venue manager of Magnums, open from 10am-3am in Airlie Beach, said he was concerned about the system's effectiveness as he had patrons in his venue from 5pm who were not scanned.
"People could also just decide to come out earlier, for example at 9.45pm, and avoid being scanned. (And if) it's just going to cause people to come out earlier ... what is it really doing? It's just bringing the problem forward, not pushing the problem away," he said.
Mr Barclay said he was unsure that he would recommend an earlier scanning time as this would affect families and young children, however he believed harsher penalties for people who caused violence could be a more efficient approach.
Overall Mr Barclay thought ID scanners were a good idea, "but the way the system has been rolled out is appalling".
Mr Barclay said the scanners had not been advertised or marketed thoroughly with only Facebook and Instagram being used to reach the public with information.
He said many of his patrons were surprised by the introduction and unsure about how the system operated.
He said there were errors including that some IDs could not be recognised, driver's licences from some states could not be recognised and international IDs were not recognised.
This created a problem whereby the data must be inserted manually, creating long queues outside his venue at peak trading times.
Stacy Harvey, owner of popular Airlie Beach nightclub Mama Africa for 15 years, has been involved in the Safe Night Precinct since its conception three years ago, and said many venues weren't opposed to the scanners but believed they'd been implemented without a proper trial period.
She said problems included people needing to be rescanned to re-enter a venue after leaving the precinct which added to the problem of long queues at the door.
"And you already have a limited amount of time to make money," she said.
Ms Harvey said the recent introduction of earlier pub closing times combined with the scanners made it difficult for venues to survive financially due to the slower, longer queues.
She said venues also often needed to hire an extra staff member to help process IDs.
And she believed violence was a social issue, not necessarily related to licensed venues.
"I think it's an issue that needs to be looked at everywhere, including in schools; I don't think it's one area that's the problem," she said.
Ms Harvey recommended a six-month trial period for the scanners with feedback from venues to be taken on board and a relaxation of earlier closing times for venues.
Meanwhile Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan said the process of introducing the scanners had been "rushed and butchered".
"We had a least one nightclub owner in Airlie who only got their scanning equipment one day before they went into operation," he said.
"I think there's great merit in going back to the LNP plan which was centred on our Safe Night Precincts (and) which included funding for local initiatives.
"There were plans in place for education programs to curb violence, as well as awareness campaigns to bring everyone up to speed on the LNP's tougher penalties for people who play up."
LNP Fair Trading Minister Jarrod Bleijie said throughout Queensland businesses and hospitality workers were losing money and jobs were being lost because of the poor roll-out of the scanners.
"There are glaring inequities in the rules applied to different venues in the same precinct, technical issues with scanners that have led to mile-long queues outside pubs and clubs and some operators simply shutting down on weekdays because it costs too much to stay open," he said.
But Labor candidate for Whitsunday Bronwyn Taha said community safety came first, especially for small businesses where the Safe Night Precinct was located.
"I think that's the priority here and that's why the scanners have been introduced. I think any measure that stops people being hurt and keeping violence and thugs out of our pubs and clubs can only help ensure a safe night out for everyone," she said.
Ms Taha said she wanted to make Airlie Beach a safe tourist destination, and she was keen to find out if the scanners were having a positive effect for the community.
She said operators should be encouraged to have open conversations including their concerns and that she'd "personally be happy to meet with any owners and see what their feedback is".