Sydney’s pubs and clubs are facing 1:30am lock-outs and 3:00am last drinks in tough new measures aimed at curbing the city’s continued alcohol-fuelled violence.
In recent weeks, there have been no signs of the violence ending, something that’s tragically included the death of teenager Daniel Christie in early January, several days after being ‘coward punched’ in Kings Cross on New Year’s Eve.
As a result of that and increased community pressure, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell announced proposed license changes yesterday (Jan 21), including 1:30am lock-outs and 3:00am last drinks along with the state-wide closure of liquor stores of 10:00pm and mandatory sentences for violent attacks.
“I have been horrified by the continued drug and alcohol-fuelled attacks on city streets and the increase in violence used in these attacks,” O’Farrell said.
“I’ve heard the community’s call for action and I’m confident this package of measures approved by Cabinet will make a difference.
“These new measures are tough and for that I make no apologies. I expect opposition to some or all of the measures, but the community wants strong action and the NSW Government intends to deliver it,” he said.
Measures proposed by the NSW Government include:
-Eight year mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted under new one punch laws where the offender is intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol, plus new mandatory minimum sentences for violent assaults where intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol;
-Introduction of 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks across an expanded CBD precinct to include Kings Cross to Darling Harbour, The Rocks to Haymarket and Darlinghurst;
-New state-wide 10pm closing time for all bottle shops and liquor stores;
-Increasing the maximum sentence to 25 years for the illegal supply and possession of steroids – up from two years;
-Increased on-the-spot fines to $1,100 for continued intoxicated and disorderly behaviour disobeying a police move-on order – an increase of more than five times;
-Community awareness and media campaign to address the culture of binge drinking and the associated drug and alcohol related violence;
-Free buses running every ten minutes from Kings Cross to the CBD to connect with existing NightRide services on Friday and Saturday nights;
-Remove voluntary intoxication by drugs or alcohol as a mitigating factor when courts determine sentences;
-Increasing maximum penalties by two years where drugs and/or alcohol are aggravating factors for violent crimes including assault causing grievous bodily harm, reckless bodily harm, assault against police, affray and sexual assault; and
-Enabling Police to impose an immediate CBD precinct ban of up to 48 hours for trouble-makers.
Accommodation hotels, small bars, The Star casino and the new Barangaroo precinct – soon home to a luxury Crown Towers hotel and casino – are exempt under the new plan.
“We’re getting on with the job of making our streets safer,” O’Farrell said. “The initiatives already implemented have seen a fall in violence on licenced premises, but more improvement is needed and that’s the basis of these measures.
“Dealing effectively with the issue of drug and alcohol-fuelled violence requires concerted efforts by government and its agencies, the alcohol industry and the community.
“A strong consistent message is required that alcohol and drug-fuelled violence will not be tolerated.
“The idea that it’s OK to go out, get intoxicated, start a fight or throw a coward’s punch is completely unacceptable – and, under these measures those who do so will face serious consequences.
“There are no single or simple cure-alls for these problems. Part of the solution will involve community education and that’s why we’ve also committed to a community education campaign along the lines of multimedia road safety campaigns like “What’s your Plan B?”.
“It’s incumbent upon all of us to play our part if we are to stamp out this unacceptable behaviour and change the culture that surrounds it,” O’Farrell said.
NSW Parliament is set to next week consider the legislation required to introduce the new measures, which could come into effect as early as February 1.