People spill out of the Charlestown party on Friday night. Source: SuppliedPEOPLE promoting and hosting wild house parties –like the out-of-control rave that caused chaos in Charlestown last weekend –could face substantial fines and prosecution under a new proposal from Lake Macquarie City Council.
Police were forced to close the southbound lanes of the Pacific Highway on Friday night after more than 300 people –mostly drunken and drug affected teenagers –spilled out of a party in Ida Street.The crowd–who according to revellers hadbecome “annoyed” when the party was shut down “heaps early” –pelted police officers with bottles in chaotic scenes that triggered a massive response from emergency services.Three teenagers, including two girls aged 13 and 16, were taken to hospital suffering from suspected drug overdoses and 11 people were arrested.
Lake Macquarie City Councillor John Gilbert said there were reports from party-goers that they had been charged a $4 entry fee.
He said it wasn’t the first wild party at the Ida Street house and there had been an increase, generally across Lake Macquarie, in people organising or promoting a house party and then charging their guests to get in.
People spill out of the Charlestown party on Friday night. Source: SuppliedBut Friday night’s “riot”along the Pacific Highway, and the subsequentnumerous complaints from fed-up residents, had prompted Cr Gilbert to call an “emergency briefing” with senior council staff to crackdown on party promoters.
He has since began lodging a “Safe Party Regulation” proposal for Lake Macquarie City Council toadopt.
Lake Macquarie detectives are still investigating the circumstances of thewild party and the chaotic aftermath and paid a visit to the Ida Street house on Wednesday.
Lake Macquarie Superintendent Brett Greentree–who called Friday’s party“nearly a perfect storm of a disaster”–said police would support any proposal that encouragedpublic safety.
“What we’ll be making people aware of is that the moment they charge people to enter the venue at their own private residence, they are then operating as a nightclub without a development application,” Cr Gilbert told theNewcastle Herald.
“They could face significant penalties, as well as litigation from anyone who goes in there and gets injured, or indeed even from neighbours who suffer damage as a result.
CHAOS: A still from video shot of the aftermath of a wild party in Ida Street, Charlestown on Friday night. Lake Macquarie City Councillor John Gilbert is proposing a crackdown on wild parties. Picture: Supplied
“Alcohol restrictions must also be observed and if an entry fee has been charged they are running a business that could be allowing underage drinking.”
As part of the proposal, Cr Gilbert plans to provide a place for residents to report out-of-control parties, so council can “build up a pattern of who is running them and prosecute the people who are doing it”.
It’s unclear at present how significant the fines could be for hosting a paid event at a house.
But Cr Gilbert said the council would prosecute those responsible and the penalty would be determined by a magistrate.
He said there were also plans to issue noise abatement orders against those running house parties and then fine them a maximum of $550 if they breach the order.
“Lake Macquarie is getting a lot of these happening,” Cr Gilbert said.
“It’s been a problem for a while and I think the reason it’s only come to the surface now is because this one blew up really badly.”
Police break-up a brawl after the Charlestown party on Friday night. Picture: Nine News
Cr Gilbert said he was“totally outraged”by Friday night’s“mob riot” and promised toensure thosehosting out-of-control parties in the future would feel“the full force of the law come down on them like a tonne of bricks”.
Superintendent Greentree said he plansto meet with Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser to discuss the party and any possible action in the future.
“Public safety is number one for us,” Superintendent Greentree said.
“We have a good relationship with the council and we will certainly work with them as best we can in any legislation or proposed legislation to do what we can to prevent something like this from occurring again.”
CrFraser said Friday’s wild scenes in Charlestown were“unacceptable”.
“When private functions threaten the safety of others and create fear in the community, then clearly a line has been crossed,” Cr Fraser said.“Council will work with local police to investigate this incident further with the property owner and I have arranged to meet with police to discuss how we can support them to help prevent incidents like this happening again.”
Neighbours said the Ida Street house hosted a party for about 150 teenagers a month before Friday’s rave.
PARTY HOUSE: Detectives speak to a man at the Ida Street home on Wednesday morning after hundreds spilled out of a party on Friday night. Picture: Marina Neil
QUEENSLAND LAWS STRICTER ON PARTIESDETECTIVES continue to investigate a wild house party that caused chaos on the streets of Charlestown on Friday night.
But with a lack of legislation to prosecute those promoting or hosting the raves, there may be little recourse for police.That’s not the case in Queensland.
In 2014, new laws came into effect that meant anyone who organised or was involved in hosting an event that became“out-of-control” could be charged with an offence that carries a maximum $12,000 fine and one-year imprisonment.
Further, under the legislation,if the person who organised theevent was a juvenile,and their parentgave them permission to organise the event, then theparent can be charged with the offence.
ThePolice Powers and Responsibilities and Other Legislation Amendment Billdefines an out-of-control event as a gathering of 12 people or more if three of them interfere with the public by swearing, making excessive noise or being drunk in a public place.