After intense public outcry following the death of 18-year-old Daniel Christie who was assaulted in Kings Cross on New Year’s Eve, the NSW government have introduced tough new liquor licensing laws.
Yesterday Premier Barry O’Farrell announced the new NSW alcohol laws that will affect pubs, clubs, and bottle shops right across the state with a focus on Sydney’s CBD. He legislation packages states a new closing time of 10pm will be introduced for bottle shops, and that a new lock-out time of 1.30am introduced at licensed venues in an extended area of Sydney’s CBD.
In addition, drinks will stop being served from 3am across an extended CBD precinct with the only exceptions to the rule will be restaurants and small bars, Barangaroo, and The Star casino. A freeze on new liquor licences has also been announced for Sydney’s CBD in an attempt to, as the Premier said, “undo the culture of binge drinking that is giving the industry a very bad image.”
Perhaps in anticipation of the predictable call-out of what will happen when floods of people inevitably hit the streets once drinks stop being served at 3am, which just so happens to be the taxi changeover hour, the Premier also announced that free buses will be running from nightlife hotspot Kings Cross every 10 minutes on Friday and Saturday nights.
While public outcry was ultimately what led to the lock-out, these announcements have caused a significant amount of upset and have been labeled somewhat of a blanket approach to a larger problem especially given that Daniel Christie was assaulted at 9am and Thomas Kelly (who died last year as a result of complications due to alcohol-fuelled assault) at 10pm.
Furthermore, it is said the lockouts will significantly damage business owners, particularly in the small bar sector where, despite doing their best business between the hours of 1am and 3am, there have been no issues with violence.
Nightclub owner John Ibrahaim tweeted his thoughts on the matter, “The announcement today will not change drinking culture. Punishing the majority for the actions of a few morons!”
It’s interesting to note that a similar 2am lockout was implemented and just months later abandoned in Melbourne in 2008. The only difference between the rules for the two cities was that the small bar exception did not exist in Melbourne. Only time will tell whether Sydney’s laws have their desired effect…