RSA staff in NSW need to be aware of the sweeping changes being made by the O’Farrell government in response to the alcohol fuelled violence which has gripped Sydney.
Announced last week Tuesday, the new measures mean that pubs and clubs in Sydney’s most popular entertainment districts will be hit with 3am alcohol curfews prohibiting them from serving alcohol after 3am.
The new measures also include harsh mandatory sentences for drunken attacks such as the one that claimed Daniel Christie and Thomas Kelly’s lives.
The hotel industry has warned that the crackdown is harsh and will be damaging to the night time economy. Legal experts also condemned some of the measures including the mandatory sentencing because it didn’t take into consideration the circumstances surrounding each incident but rather presented a “one size fits all” type of approach to sentencing.
According to a post on Smh.com.au the new measures announced last week will result in dozens of late night trading venues in central Sydney locking out customers from 1:30am and ceasing to sell alcohol from 3am onwards. A new precinct has been established within which the new measures will apply, it runs from Kings Cross to Cockle Bay, The Rocks to Haymarket and Darlinghurst.
There will be some venues that are exempt from the new measures that include small bars with a patronage of less than 60, tourist accommodation like large hotels and restaurants.
The mandatory minimum sentences for a range of violent crimes involving alcohol or drugs has also been introduced and the new one punch law will ensure that perpetrators receive a minimum of 8 years jail time for fatal assaults.
Also police will be given powers to test violent offenders for drugs and alcohol.
The following excerpt from Smh.com.au detailed O’Farrell’s plans:
Legislation for the sentencing changes will be introduced next week and the government expects to have them in place by February 1. Mr O’Farrell said he hoped the new trading laws would be operating by the end of April and would be independently reviewed in two years.
”This is not about penalising responsible drinkers,” he said. ”It is about attacking the irresponsible acts of those who allow themselves to be intoxicated, whether by drugs or alcohol.”
Prominent voice on alcohol in Oz, Mike Daube from the Public Health Association of Australia said that the measures could represent a turning point in changing Australia’s binge drinking culture. He also believed that the measures could help reduce the damage done by alcohol in both the long and short term. Some experts who have welcomed the measures, including Dr Alex Wodak of St Vincents Hospital said the measures should be implemented throughout the state and not just in this specific precinct.
Here are some of the other responses from experts and alcohol industry insiders:
A spokesman for the NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance, Michael Thorn, described them as ”strong and effective preventive measures” and congratulated Mr O’Farrell for ”his willingness to stand up to the alcohol industry”.
Campaigner Tony Brown, who has agitated for Newcastle-style lockouts and trading hours for Sydney after helping achieve them in his home town, said the result was ”monumentally positive”.
The NSW branch of the Australian Hotels Association welcomed the sentencing changes but said lockouts and the 3am alcohol service restriction would have an undeniable impact on the night-time economy, penalising businesses that are well run and have had nothing to do with the recent violence”.