New laws mean life with delayed parole for coward punches

THE Queensland Government plans to establish 15 safe night precincts across the state and introduce tough new penalties under a plan to tackle alcohol fuelled violence head-on.

Safe night precincts will be established in Mackay, Airlie Beach, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Ipswich.

Further precincts will be established in Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Under the new reforms "coward punch' deaths will be punishable through a new offence of unlawful striking causing death with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and offenders required to serve 80% of their sentence before being able to apply for parole.

Premier Campbell Newman said on Sunday (Mar 23) the strategy was the most comprehensive action plan in the country dealing with the problem of alcohol and drug related violence.

"We want both locals and tourists to be able to go out on a Friday or Saturday night and have a great time without it being ruined by the bad behaviour of violent and aggressive drunks," he said.

"A safe night out is a great night out.

"This comprehensive plan targets troublemakers and makes them accountable for their actions, while still ensuring the vast majority who do the right thing can have a good time and enjoy themselves safely."

Mr Newman said education and awareness campaigns both within schools and the wider community were crucial to promote the importance of responsible behaviour.

"Young people need to know what sort of behaviour is expected of them when they reach drinking age," he said.

"Just as the culture around drink driving has changed, so too must community attitudes to excessive drinking and drug use.

"We are calling on all Queenslanders to get involved to change the culture, to restore responsibility and respect, and to ensure bad behaviour is no longer tolerated.

Other elements of the strategy include compulsory alcohol and drug education in all Queensland schools from Years 7 to 12, tougher penalties for people behaving badly or violently around licensed and the introduction of mandatory ID scanners in venues trading after midnight across the safe night precincts.