QUEENSLAND’S liquor laws have become an international farce after Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, the husband of Princess Mary, was initially turned away from a Brisbane bar. Now the owner of the pub fears he’ll be fined over the saga.
Jade Buddha co-owner Phil Hogan said his staff initially denied the prince entry on Friday night under the state’s tough liquor laws, which require venues to scan the IDs of all patrons entering after 10pm.
Later, he was persuaded to allow the prince inside after officers from Queensland Police’s Dignitary Protection Unit assured him they had obtained approval from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation to make an exemption. But an OLGR spokeswoman appeared to contradict that on Tuesday, saying the regulatory body was “unaware of this incident until the evening of Monday, 21 August”.
That came as a surprise to Mr Hogan.
“That’s news to us. We did everything we possibly could,” he said.
A Queensland Police Service spokesman said it did “not discuss operational security arrangements for dignitaries visiting the state”.
Mr Hogan said he feared once the publicity about the prince’s visit had passed he would be fined for allowing him to enter.
But he also warned he had “plenty of evidence” to back up his version of events. “They should be reminded that I didn’t come down in the last shower,” he said.
“It’s not our first rodeo.”
The incident has put the state’s liquor laws, which came into effect last month, back in the national spotlight.
In Queensland Parliament on Tuesday morning, Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the case of the Danish Crown Prince being refused entry showed venues “applied the law equally”.
“The Prince obviously did not take great offence as he returned a short time later and was granted entry,” she said.
“The fact is this has not caused a diplomatic incident as some would have you believe.”
Health Minister Cameron Dick stood by the ID scanning laws, saying there were “doing what we want them to do” and preventing alcohol-fuelled violence.
“I think Queenslanders like the idea that everyone, regardless of whether they are a prince or an average man or woman on the street, I think that Queenslanders like that everyone is treated the same under the laws of our state,” he said.
“We think they are a good, safe balance for Queenslanders.”
But Mr Dick said the Palaszczuk Government would “clearly explain” the laws to nations participating in the Commonwealth Games, flagging the possibility of an international marketing campaign.
“I think the Government will be looking at that,” he said.
“There is a whole range of information campaigns we will be rolling out in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games. Some of them will be in relation to healthcare as well, so there is a whole range of issues we will be communicating to our Commonwealth friends from around the world.
“We want them to have a great time in Queensland. They are welcome in our state, but like any travellers coming internationally they need to know the law of the land when they get there, so we will do work in that space as the Commonwealth Games approaches.”
Ms Palaszczuk and Ms D’Ath said the controversial ID scanning laws, which require venues to scan the identification cards of all patrols who enter after 10pm, had been a resounding success. Ms D’Ath said she was not aware of any complaint made by the prince.
“If reports are correct the licensed venue applied the law equally to Prince Frederik as with anyone else visiting our venues,” she said.
But Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls used the incident to criticise the Government over its laws, which came into effect on July 1.
He questioned if the prince’s fairytale romance with Tasmanian Mary Donaldson could have happened in modern-day Brisbane because he wouldn’t have been allowed inside any venue.
The couple famously met in a random encounter at Sydney’s Slip Inn bar during the 2000 Olympics.
Ms Palaszczuk said the laws were backed by the LNP when they were in government.
“There is bipartisan support when it comes to ID scanning laws in this state,” she said.
One Nation Queensland leader Steve Dickson vowed to roll back the laws if the party held the balance of power after the next election.
A BRISBANE bar has refused entry to Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, as staff stuck to Queensland’s new alcohol laws.
The Crown Prince was left stunned when he was told he and his entourage needed ID to enter a pub.
In an international embarrassment for the Queensland Government, Prince Frederik, 49, and his entourage were barred from entering Jade Buddha bar at the Eagle St Pier just before midnight on Friday.
The shocked group, who were in Brisbane ahead of the Hamilton Island Race Week yachting regatta, left the venue but returned 15 minutes later.
The Crown Prince and his entourage were forced to enlist the help of seven Queensland police officers from the “dignitary protection unit’’ to assure the venue manager they had the authority to override the ID requirements.
The officers reportedly told the venue they had received the green light from Office of Liquor and Gaming bureaucrats to allow the Danish royal entourage to bypass the ID laws.
Jade Buddha co-owner Phil Hogan, who intervened in an attempt to sort out the mess, said foreign dignitaries should be excluded from the ID legislation.
“It’s a stupid law. We always thought it was going to be a nightmare,’’ Mr Hogan said.
“It’s happening all the time and the whole thing has been a nightmare from a tourist point of view. It’s just a nonsense. It’s a real over-reaction.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg with the Prince. It’s happening all the time with normal people.”
The ID scanning regime, which came into effect on July 1, requires anyone entering a venue in a Safe Night Precincts after 10pm to have their ID, such as a driver's licence or passport, scanned.
Prince Frederik famously met his future wife, a commoner from Tasmania then known as Mary Donaldson, in a Sydney pub during the 2000 Olympics.
The cringe-inducing incident involving the Crown Prince is the latest blunder for the draconian lockout laws, which are regularly catching out backpackers, foreign tourists and business travellers.
A dozen respected French winemakers without the necessary ID were turned away in July from The Gresham, which has won awards as one of Australia’s best bars.
Gresham manager Ryan Lane at the time described the laws as “embarrassing”.
The industry has been up in arms since the ID scanners were introduced, saying they were catching out tourists and long line ups were turning patrons away. The machines cost $8000 each.
The machines cost $8000 each and 31 licensees inside Safe Night Precincts had applied to reduce their hours from 2am or 3am to midnight to avoid using the scanners.
A Cairns nightclub owner said he was left out of pocket last month after international passports failed to fit the ID scanners and he was forced to turn away dozens of visiting US sailors.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath earlier this month said the Government understood there would be “teething problems” and would consult with licensed venues to review the rollout.