Newcastle Herald Opinion

Feb 19, 2018

THE Australian Hotels’ Association (AHA) application to the NSW government to “vary or revoke” the package of Newcastle’s life-saving alcohol licensing conditions has created a regrettable rift through our town.

On one side we have our police, nurses, doctors, paramedics and internationally acclaimed independent alcohol harm prevention researchers seeking to retain and strengthen the conditions. On the other the AHA, NSW government through Liquor & Gaming NSW and Newcastle council all seek to substantially weaken or dismantle key elements of the Newcastle conditions on the basis the city has allegedly matured, cutting red tape or matching Sydney’s weaker provisions.

Let an informed community be the judge which group has public interest and safety at heart. We cannot further compromise on public and police safety.

Read more by Tony Brown here. 

Billy Clay pleads guilty to ‘one punch’ assault of former pro surfer Jake Sylvester

Feb 15, 2018

Unfortunately, Newcastle still has a long way to go before it resolves its problem with alcohol.

We cannot let complacency and vested interests return blood soaked violence to the city’s streets.

“A MAYFIELD man has pleaded guilty to the ‘one punch’ assault of former professional surfer Jake Sylvester during a night out in Newcastle West during Surfest last year.

Billy Patrick Clay, 23, punched Mr Sylvester, the two-time Surfest Pro Junior champion, in the head outside The Family Hotel on February 24, “immediately” knocking him unconscious and forcing him to the ground where he struck the back of his head on the roadway, fracturing his skull. “

Read the full story in the Newcastle Herald here. 

Hunter doctors say Newcastle’s liquor laws must be maintained

Feb 10, 2018

Newcastle Herald, Max McKinney

MORE than 300 Hunter doctors have made a plea to the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) to maintain Newcastle’s alcohol restrictions.

The doctors, who have made collective and individual submissions to the ILGA, provided the Herald with their detailed letter calling for the CBD laws to not only be maintained, but extended to the suburbs.

Newcastle lock out laws should be strengthened, Hunter New England Health’s review submission says

Feb 8, 2018

Newcastle Herald, Anita Beaumont

NEWCASTLE’S existing lock out laws should not only remain, but be strengthened, the local health district says.

In its submission to the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s review of the decade-old lock out laws, Hunter New England Health has proposed the existing laws remain the “base level” conditions for all licensed premises, with further restrictions applied to establishments considered at a higher risk of late night assaults.

Read the full article here. 

Newcastle liquor laws review extended by a fortnight

Jan 22, 2018

AN email glitch has given the public an extra two weeks to lodge submissions to a review of the controversial “Newcastle solution” licensing conditions.

With supporters of the restrictions in a battle with the Australian Hotels Association about the impact of  the decade-old regulations, news of the extra time will come as a relief to those who had complained about a short time-frame for the review.

Community campaigner Tony Brown has stepped up the fight to ensure that the Newcastle conditions are not watered down in any way, releasing a trove of documents obtained under freedom of information legislation to support his case.

Read the full story here. 

The “last drinks” laws reducing violence in Australia

Jan 10, 2018

For years it looked like Australians could not give a Castlemaine XXXX for their rising tide of alcohol-related violence. Then, a decade ago, one city called time, literally.

Newcastle in New South Wales imposed what were quickly dubbed “last drinks” laws. Local licensing chiefs moved to shorten opening hours for pubs, clubs, and crucially, hotels.

Some drinkers were allowed to stay in their hotels. But they had a “lockout”; they could keep drinking where they were but not go elsewhere.

Read the full article on the Herald Scotland here.

Hospital emergency departments being swamped by drunk revellers across the nation

Dec 21, 2017

EMERGENCY departments are being swamped by drunk revellers, with Australian’s love of “celebrating everything” to blame.

A snapshot of the nation’s hospitals at 2am on Saturday revealed 1 in 8 emergency department patients were there because of booze.

And in NSW the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine survey found that about 1 in 10 patients were in emergency because of alcohol.

Lead researcher Professor Drew Richardson said the survey of 152 emergency departments across the nation revealed alcohol was to blame for 17 per cent of patients waiting to be seen, 13 per cent being treated and almost 10 per cent of short-stay unit patients.

This included those too drunk to go home and others suffering injuries because of alcohol-related violence.

Read the full article here. 

Hospital emergency departments being swamped by drunk revellers across the nation

Dec 19, 2017

Angira Bharadwaj, The Daily Telegraph

EMERGENCY departments are being swamped by drunk revellers, with Australian’s love of “celebrating everything” to blame.

A snapshot of the nation’s hospitals at 2am on Saturday revealed 1 in 8 emergency department patients were there because of booze.

And in NSW the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine survey found that about 1 in 10 patients were in emergency because of alcohol.

Lead researcher Professor Drew Richardson said the survey of 152 emergency departments across the nation revealed alcohol was to blame for 17 per cent of patients waiting to be seen, 13 per cent being treated and almost 10 per cent of short-stay unit patients.

This included those too drunk to go home and others suffering injuries because of alcohol-related violence.

“The staff are busy enough without having to put up with people who don’t need to be there and have inflicted this on themselves,” Prof Richardson said.

“There were two hospitals that each had 15 patients there due to alcohol, which is really appalling, and there was one hospital where over 70 per cent of the people in the emergency department at that time were there because of alcohol.”

Prof Richardson said major city hospitals had large numbers of alcohol-affected patients due to nearby pubs.

ACEM president Simon Judkins said the government needs to intervene to stop booze-related patients clogging emergency departments and counteract the nation’s drinking culture.

“We certainly have a culture of using alcohol to celebrate everything from a sporting event to the birth of a baby,” Mr Judkins said.

“It’s a seven-day-a-week, 24/7 problem and the reason we chose two o’clock in the morning is probably to capture that weekend sort of binge drinking culture that we have.”

Mr Judkins said not only are intoxicated patients taking up hospital resources but they can also be violent towards doctors and nurses.

“I think we just need to be more upfront about the significant downsides of alcohol consumption and look at legislative change,” he said.

Read the full article here.

Newcastle Herald: NSW Upper House MPs agree a four-week review of Newcastle’s lockout laws is too short

Nov 24, 2017

THE NSW Upper House will ask the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to extend its snap review of Newcastle’s liquor laws and take public submissions until the end of February.

Government and opposition MPs backed a motion by Greens MP Justin Field on Thursday to extend the deadline from December 13 after strong criticism of the four-week review by academics, emergency workers and members of the public, and indications that Newcastle’s most senior police officer would ask for even tighter drinking conditions.

Mr Field moved the motion on Thursday morning after groups including the Last Drinks Coalition, representing police, ambulance, doctors and nurses argued strongly for Premier Gladys Berejiklian to intervene and stop the review, which was announced on Tuesday.

Read the full article on the Newcastle Herald here.

Newcastle Superintendent John Gralton says the evidence is in on alcohol trading hours and assaults

Nov 23, 2017

“I STRONGLY believe any relaxation of the current licensing conditions in Newcastle risks a big black eye for the city. I really do.”

Newcastle Superintendent John Gralton didn’t hold back after learning on Tuesday – along with the rest of the community – that licensing laws in place in Newcastle since 2008 are under review at the request of the Australian Hotels Association.

The city’s most senior police officer is against any changes, and could even ask for a tightening of trading hours because of clear links between post-midnight alcohol sales and increased assault rates. Research has shown a 20 per cent increase in assaults for every hour of trading after midnight.

Read the full article on the Newcastle Herald here.

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