Licensing changes: Extra opening hours approved for the international one-day cricket series between Australia and England. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Public health advocates have criticised a state government decision to extend the licensing hours of pubs and clubs during major sporting events in January as debate rages in NSW over the issue of alcohol-related violence.
The government will permit pubs and clubs with earlier closing times to trade until midnight on three Sunday nights for the international one-day cricket series between Australia and England and the men's final of the Australian Open tennis.
Similar extensions have been granted in previous years for major sporting events. But the first of this year's late-trading Sundays - January 12 - will come within a fortnight of the bashing of 18-year-old Daniel Christie at Kings Cross.
"At the cricket, you do tend to have a culture around drinking at the game": Mike Daube. Photo: Supplied
The New Year's Eve attack on Mr Christie, who is in a critical condition in St Vincent's Hospital, has sparked renewed calls for the state government to take further action to prevent alcohol-related violence, including reduced trading hours.
Curtin University's Mike Daube, co-chairman of the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol, said extended trading hours were ''the last thing'' the state government should be considering.
''If you extend availability and access [to alcohol], you will get more harms and the last thing our police and emergency departments need is longer trading hours, especially at the weekend,'' he said.
Professor Daube said the situation was ''quite dangerous'' given that the one-day cricket series was sponsored by brewer Carlton United.
''At the cricket, you do tend to have a culture around drinking at the game,'' he said. ''So you've got alcohol being promoted at the event, you've got people drinking for several hours and then they can go out to the pub and drink more. So the absolutely inevitable consequence is more harms.
''We know cricket is in bed with the alcohol industry … The NSW government doesn't need to be.''
Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) chief executive Michael Thorn said the government was ''wrong'' to further extend liquor trading hours.
''Against the recent bloody backdrop of violence, and with NSW emergency departments overflowing with 9000 alcohol-related cases every year, what we need most is measures that would address the availability of alcohol across the state,'' Mr Thorn said.
Hospitality Minister George Souris said the system of extended trading hours had been in operation for more than a decade and was initially designed to allow people without pay TV to enjoy sporting events restricted to pay TV.
However, the cricket and the tennis are broadcast on free-to-air television in January.
Mr Souris said that ''most venues'' already have trading hours to midnight.