In 2008, the effects of alcohol abuse had taken their toll on Victoria’s capital. The Melbourne City Council’s efforts to revitalise its nightlife had been successful, and the city had reaped the rewards, but hard-partying in the 24-hour city was leaving a bad hangover. Problem drinking and its consequences – namely hospitalisations and violence – were on the rise, as inebriated patrons venue-hopped around the city. Some wondered whether plans to transform the nightlife had failed to take into account that commuters would be stranded in the small hours and thus compelled to kick on. Others felt the pressures on young people to drink were encouraging reckless habits. Still others felt that lax liquor licensing and deregulation had left a system that enabled binge drinking across multiple venues. A Ministerial Taskforce on Alcohol and Public Safety set up by the Brumby Government in 2007 came to the latter conclusion, and in May 2008 the government announced plans for a 2am lockout trial. Many hailed the proposed laws, which had been successful elsewhere, but when the government took their plans to venue owners and patrons, they found the reception was less than warm.
This two part case can be used to discuss effective strategic planning in government – the structured thinking that takes into account the context, governance and policy levers available for steering change to arrive at high value solutions. Part A can be used to discuss leadership in complex problem solving, managing multiple stakeholders, policy design and evidence-based decision-making.
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