Pubs and clubs in Sydney’s CBD will be forced to lock out new customers from 1.30am and cease alcohol trading by 3am under a state government crackdown on alcohol- and drug-related violence.
'No single cure-all to these problems'
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell spells out changes to help cut down the current level of alcohol related violence.
Premier Barry O’Farrell has also announced bottle shops will have to close their doors at 10pm.
Venues will be subject to a risk-based licensing scheme whereby higher fees will be imposed on venues that trade later, are larger or are in high risk areas, as part of a reform package announced on Tuesday.
As foreshadowed, mandatory minimum sentences of eight years in jail will apply to fatal one-punch attacks involving alcohol and drugs.
But Mr O’Farrell also announced mandatory minimum sentences would be introduced for other drug- or alcohol-fuelled offences, including reckless wounding (three years), assaulting a police officer in the execution of duty (two years), affray (four years) and sexual assault (five years).
Police will be able to test for drugs and alcohol if they suspect someone has committed an alcohol- or drug-fuelled assault.
Parliament will be brought back early next week, probably on Wednesday, to introduce the legislation required to implement the package.
'We need reform to change the culture'
Parents of Thomas Kelly are amongst those to react to the NSW government's new drug and alcohol measures.
Mr O’Farrell said with the support of the opposition the new mandatory sentencing laws could be in place by February 1, and the rest of the package, including the lockouts and reduced trading hours, by the end of April.
He said the lockouts and 3am licensing restrictions would apply to venues within a new CBD entertainment precinct stretching from Kings Cross to Cockle Bay, The Rocks to Haymarket and Darlinghurst.
The proposed area targeted by licensing restrictions.
‘‘This is about trying to send a very clear message to the industry that yes, you can continue to trade after 3 o’clock, but drinks will cease at 3 o’clock," the Premier said.
Restaurants and small bars and ‘‘tourism accommodation facilities’’ are exempt, as are venues at Barangaroo, including James Packer’s planned six-star hotel and casino.
"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."
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore welcomed the reforms but warned that they could push violence into neighbouring areas unless 24-hour transport was improved.
Mr O'Farrell said he had "heard the community's call, their demand for action. And I'm confident that the package that cabinet approved yesterday will make the difference and start the change that the community seeks to have implemented".
Other measures in the package include:
- Voluntary intoxication will be removed as a mitigating factor in sentencing;
- Free buses leaving every 10 minutes from Kings Cross to the CBD on Friday and Saturday nights;
- A freeze on liquor licences for new clubs and pubs (with small bars, restaurants and tourist accommodation exempted);
- Increased on the spot fines for anti-social behaviour (eg, from $150 to $500 for offensive language and from $200 to $500 for offensive behaviour);
- Increase from two years to 25 years' maximum sentence for the illegal supply and possession of steroids;
- A ‘‘road safety-style’’ social media and advertising campaign targeted at alcohol fuelled violence;
Justin Hemmes, CEO of Merivale, which owns ivy and multiple other bars in Sydney, said he welcomed the policy announcement.
"Without doubt, these measures will create a safer environment for all," Mr Hemmes said.
Reaction is being sought from the NSW branch of the Australian Hotels Association and the Last Drinks coalition of emergency services workers.