Crime debate: Veteran Queenstown businessman Tim McGeorge (top) and Destination Queenstown boss Graham Budd
A Queenstown backpacker hostel owner says booze crime tourists should be deported by the courts.
Tim McGeorge, who owns Deco Backpackers on Man Street, backed Judge Dominic Flatley’s claims in Queenstown District Court last week that local alcohol-related crime and disorder is tarnishing New Zealand’s image abroad.
McGeorge, a veteran businessman, says the problem has increased in recent years and criticised the diversion process saying there needs to be greater consequences for those who commit offences.
Businessman Mark Julian, who owns the McDonald’s franchise in O’Connells shopping centre in the CBD – a magnet for late-night troublemakers – also believes the town has a problem.
But Destination Queenstown boss Graham Budd has rejected Flatley’s claims, saying town centre trouble is over-hyped and reports of it make no impact in overseas tourism markets.
McGeorge says: “In certain market segments I believe it’s certainly damaging us.
“In the lower end, no it’s not, in the party bus scene, but there’s a whole other market once you get up through the socio-economic groups. Every time it’s reported it goes right through the country.
“My biggest gripe is that there is no consequence for people who do these drunken actions.
“This diversion thing is to my mind a complete nonsense. For violence, people should be told to leave the country.”
Judge Flatley slammed two separate defendants in court last Monday.
They included Kelvin Heights carpenter Timothy Donald – who attacked an Australian tourist in a drunken rage outside Shotover Street restaurant Fergburger, punching him from behind.
Frenchman Julien Romain Januad, who admitted receiving stolen goods after a friend stole a $300 camera from a woman’s handbag while on a drunken night out in Queenstown, also received a verbal lashing.
“It causes me real concern this is happening in Queenstown because yet again this gives Queenstown and NZ a bad name,” Flatley says.
Drunken violence and disorder in Queenstown was picked up by Australian media earlier in the season.
Queenstown police had highlighted the number of Australians being arrested in the resort after a range of incidents – from 12-man brawls to stolen pies.
McDonald’s owner Julian says: “We’re at the end of the night so all those people who cause troubles in bars, etc, come to visit us on the way home.
“It comes with the territory in Queenstown unfortunately, with all the drunk people.
“What they find as fun is not everyone else’s fun. The whole town has a problem with it.”
Budd says: “I can understand the judge saying that because he’s on the frontline of dealing with the repercussions of these incidents.
“But I think in those markets that are choosing to visit Queenstown these incidents don’t actually get publicity.
“Frankly, they just get publicity in our local community and through the regional press largely. It’s a reflection of the fact there isn’t a lot of crime overall. So these incidents get picked up and reported, whereas in most places around the country they wouldn’t be.
“We are talking about a very small number of incidents overall. We get over two million visitors a year and I think that puts it into perspective.”
Could be a plan. There are only a few Good Bars in Queenstown among the masses anyway! Licensing is pretty loose in QT. Probably need to be tiered as to which bar owners can provide certain steps to help reduce the problems, otherwise the issue lies with the type of traveler QT attracts.
23 Sep 2012 06:29PMKickevents
Start at the coal face.
Now you both have it wrong boys. If the bars enforce, the police enforce the law and the bars are given a good kick if they serve drunks then you should not have a big problem , right?. But you have a problem in QT and the bars need to sell as much piss as they can just too pay the rent, let alone anything else. The police need to close a few bars down so the message gets through, but then pigs will fly?
20 Sep 2012 11:13PMYEA RIGHT
Can't have it all
Unfortunately or not, back packers and burgers are synonymous with drunken nights out. These business owners would crumble without that segment of the market. The problem is policing and lack of private security presence to prevent some of the nonsense that occurs after sunset. Unfortunately violent crime is on the rise and sooner or later the steps to reduce it will probably only be addressed when something extremely bad happens. Until then its always going to be a problem and a cost to the community and the tax payer!
20 Sep 2012 08:01PMKickevents
When I was a drunk young idiot I had to be a lot more careful, because the police were not just in cars looking for drunk drivers (This is important, but not the ONLY important job), they sometimes did a thing known as ''walking the beat'' or simply ''walking''. Don't get me wrong, you could not make me do their job, there are not enough of them, and the courts seem to treat assaults and resisting arrest as about as bad as shoplifting. Also is police diversion right on any level? A police officer, obviously uninterested, deciding who pays how much to whom to get away without a court appearance! Really?
20 Sep 2012 02:47PMalpresidente
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