To formulate a correct solution to a problem the correct questions need to be asked. In Auckland's CBD, these are: why have drunken idiots been allowed to run riot for so long, and why do the Auckland Council's proposed solutions not address the core issues and instead punish the majority who drink responsibly?
Since the 1990s, Auckland's late-night club scene has built a positive reputation globally. Many touring DJs and acts say how much they love the Auckland crowds and how vibrant the scene is. This scene has helped hundreds of local artists, many who have gone on to perform globally, hone their craft. It also entertains thousands of people a week.
Why, when forming its Local Alcohol Policy, has the council skirted the obvious core of the problem, which is addressing the drunken idiots? It focused instead on closing times of nightclubs whose patrons are generally more motivated by the music than an ability to buy a drink. Evidence shows that people who go out to dance-focused venues drink less than average bargoers, contrary to what some organisations would have you believe.
Why does the policy look like a photocopy of the police wishlist when some of those policies have little, if any, evidence of success in comparable situations overseas?
It shows a lack of imagination towards addressing the core issues which include a creeping culture of over-drinking and effectively non-existent public drunkenness laws that let people get away with it.
Taken at face value, closing all late-night bars earlier does seem practical. But to put it into perspective, the combined capacity of bars operating in the CBD at midnight is more than 20 times that of those which until December last year operated at 5am.
How can it be practical policy to hammer dance clubs that cater to a niche while allowing the vast majority of bars to continue as before?
I am not arguing any right to be able to drink tequila at 6am, but completely reject the police's laughable "nothing good happens after 3am" line which has been spun so enthusiastically. Thousands of people gain untold enjoyment from dancing 'til late and the vast majority do so responsibly.
Again, how does focusing on a few nightclubs with such a tiny combined capacity at 4am address the core issue? It does not. It cannot.
Why not start with making public drunkenness an offence? The right people will be targeted, and the culture will start to change - one of the key objectives of the legislation, surely.
Some facts on the topic of alcohol-related harm in the CBD:
• Since 2001, public disorder offences in the Auckland CBD have declined 60.5 per cent. Assaults have declined 42 per cent. The sky is not falling.
• This decline happened despite a 19 per cent population increase in central Auckland and an Auckland-wide increase of 23.6 per cent from 2001 to 2013.
• The ages of people who offend in the CBD is concentrated in the range of 18-23 years. The average age of people who go to late-night dance-orientated venues is around 29 years.
• Drinking heavily is incompatible with dancing 'til dawn. Heavy drinkers are rarely in late-night nightclubs.
Next time someone suggests closing a few clubs at 3am will cure the ills in the CBD, consider this: the peak period for night-time street offences is around 2am. Those problems are not caused by people who are inside nightclubs at that time and through to morning.
Perhaps an alternative city slogan should be: Welcome to Auckland. Dance 'til we say you're not allowed to.
Rob Warner has been a DJ and music producer for more than 20 years.