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Tragic Teen Death Being Used To Justify Proposed Lockouts

The state attorney general is using a tragic "coward punch" death to push for the new laws.

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As Steven Miller delivered a tearful eulogy at his 18-year-old son's funeral on Tuesday, Queensland attorney-general Yvette D'Ath was at the same time fronting a press conference about controversial lockout laws.

D'Ath forcefully made the case, clearly linking Miller's tragic one-punch death in Fortitude Valley on January 3 to her hurried efforts to enforce a statewide 2am lockout.

"Quite honestly with the examples we have seen in recent times, with Cole Miller's tragic and senseless death but on that same night a glassing at a venue in the Valley, someone's ear being bitten off," said D'Ath, according to the Brisbane Times.

"I mean our emergency departments are seeing people every single weekend as a consequence of alcohol in the early hours of the morning."

Following the lead of the NSW government who enforced similar restrictions on Sydney's CBD, Queensland parliament will debate the laws over the next few months with D'Ath expressing a strong desire to get them enacted into law by July 1.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, D'Ath said lockout laws have been proven to work in driving down violence.

"Evidence from around the world and here in Australia shows us the most significant factor in reducing alcohol-fuelled violence in our communities is winding back the time that alcohol is served after midnight."

But Queensland MP Ewen Jones, who fronts the federal parliamentary group supporting Australian music has slammed the plans. He told BuzzFeed News new regulations should target the men throwing the punches, not the venues.

"We've got to target this the way we targeted drink driving in Australia. I have driven under the influence of alcohol when I shouldn't have. But what happened in the '80s the police and the judiciary came down hard," said Jones.

"You've got to make these people pariahs. You've got to make it unacceptable. The same as we did with (drink driving)."

Repeatedly calling the "coward punch" a "blight" on modern Australian pub society, Jones said using them as an excuse to enforce lockouts is not the answer.

"Fights have been around forever but the coward punch is a blight that has developed in our society.

"The people who scare my daughters are the people who come in with tight shirts and on the roids or taking drugs."

Cole Miller is the third 18-year-old in the past four years to be killed by a single punch outside an Australian nightclub. The first two tragic deaths in Sydney led to the NSW government enforcing lockouts in the CBD and the emergence of the word "coward punch" to describe the single-hit assaults.

Jones said if state governments were serious about tackling alcohol-fuelled violence they wouldn't let casinos be exempted from the lock-outs.

"I want the debate broadened. If alcohol is the demon here why are casinos exempted. You can still go to a casino at 7am in the morning and buy a bourbon and coke and play some cards."

The Queensland attorney general thinks that's different.

"Casinos have heightened security arrangements in place, are highly-regulated and have gaming as their core business," said D'Ath.

Mark Di Stefano is a political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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