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Keeping GC2018 a festival of sport, not booze

Over the weekend, the Queensland Government rejected the push by the alcohol industry for 24 hour trading during the Commonwealth Games which will be held on the Gold Coast.

Instead, the Government reached agreement allowing Gold Coast restaurants, cafes, hotels, pubs, clubs and bars to serve alcohol for an extra hour during the 21st Commonwealth Games; a relatively modest compromise that values how the Games are, first and foremost, a family friendly event. It is a decision that importantly prioritises the safety of attendees young and old above all else.

The Games get under way in just 49 days, and will showcase the Gold Coast and Queensland to the world. The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) will be the biggest sporting spectacle the Gold Coast has experienced, attracting more than 6,600 athletes and team officials from 70 nations and territories. The 11 day spectacular and family-friendly event will include sport, art and cultural events in four Queensland cities, and will be an amazing opportunity for families to enjoy, what for some, will be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

With the expected influx of international visitors, it’s no surprise that the Palaszczuk government and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation want to put their best foot forward. They have made ticket prices inclusive, accessible and affordable so all the family can enjoy the action; and built new world-class sporting facilities.

GC2018 – a celebration of sport and humanity – will leave a huge legacy, with an expected 1.5 million spectators, a global television audience of approximately 1.5 billion people.

With more than 600,000 visitors expected to arrive in the Gold Coast – one of Australia’s top party hot spots – and billions of eyes on the Games, it is imperative that the Games remain a family friendly festival of sport – not booze.

What it won’t leave – thanks to the decision by the Queensland Government to reject a campaign by the alcohol industry for 24-hour service of alcohol – is a huge hang-over.

Chair of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, Dr Peter Rice, believes Queensland’s decision is in line with trading-hour measures from the Glasgow Commonwealth games in 2014.

“In reality, the Games are dominated by families and children. Even the volunteers at the Glasgow Games were typically retired people from all over the world who set the tone for the event, meaning it was quite different from the typical soccer or rugby crowd in Scotland”.

Despite the political pressure from Big Alcohol, and the calls by John-Paul Langbroek, the Shadow Minister for Commonwealth Games, to extend last drinks past 3am to ‘avoid damaging the city’s tourism reputation’, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the rejection of the call for 24-hour trading was made to ensure the Gold Coast makes the maximum benefit from the Games.

“We looked at the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow and have decided to increase liquor trading hours by an hour. It is a temporary measure for the Games only. My government approach to alcohol-fuelled violence, including ID scanning, remains in force.”

The decision was also welcomed by Queensland Police Superintendent Jim Keogh who said around-the-clock liquor licensing would be “challenging resource-wise for police and in particular people in charge of transport and the venues”.

We live in a world where sport and alcohol continue to go hand-in-hand. This GC2018 we hope that when the Gold Coast steps out on the world stage, the world sees an event that is marked by family friendly values, professionalism, inclusion – and one unmarked by alcohol harm.



Drink Tank aims to generate meaningful commentary and debate about alcohol policy, and to provide a platform for all members of the Australian community to share their views and concerns.

Our goal is for the Drink Tank community to engage in robust discussion about alcohol, highlighting a broad spectrum of views and voices, and ultimately to raise the profile of alcohol as an issue of national importance.

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