Melbourne’s government officials have ordered a review of venues offering adult entertainment and alcohol as part of a wider plan to crackdown on violence in the city. Officials have said that banning alcohol sales would be a last resort, but refused to rule out the possibility.
In an article on Melbourne’s ABC affiliate website, Consumer Affairs Minister Tony Robinson, who is responsible for dispensing the city’s liquor licenses, said that since brothels are not allowed to serve alcohol, the same might need to apply to strip clubs.
"Disproportionately, we end up with more trouble generated from that small number [of people],” he said. “I think in that sense the rest of the industry cops a bad wrap for things that don't necessarily happen in your standard bar or restaurant.”
This latest uproar to quell violence in Melbourne was ignited when 24-year-old Matthew McEvoy died after being allegedly punched and kicked in the head repeatedly over the weekend. McEvoy was killed after leaving QBH Nightclub, which is less than a mile away from King’s street, which is known for being home to many of the city’s strip clubs.
Robinson said that he is considering requiring a separate or additional licensing standard for clubs that offer sexually explicit services, that goes beyond the liquor licensing process for restaurants and bars.
Robinson also drew a direct comparison between brothels, which are not allowed to serve alcohol in Melbourne, and strip clubs.
"I think, historically, there has been too much of a connection between the prostitution industry and some of the services that go on in [strip clubs],” he said. "I think there has been a blind eye turned on occasions.”
David Butten, a spokesman for the Nightclub Owners Association in Melbourne, said that he believes there are other factors beyond the government’s control that are to blame for the increased violence.
"This has nothing to do with the issues that need to be addressed," Butten told Melbourne’s 3AW radio. "The number of international students has doubled in the past few years, the amount of visitors has increased by six percent each year and Melbourne’s population is increasing dramatically. There are some factors that people just don’t appreciate in terms of what’s happening with Melbourne’s dynamics."