Newcastle Herald – Calls for Newcastle-style restrictions to be introduced to licensed venues statewide

Jan 15, 2019

The NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance wants restrictions placed on pubs, clubs and bottle shops statewide as part of a suite of measures aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm.

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SMH: Man dead after mob of ‘angry males’ swarms paramedics

Sep 3, 2018

A 25-year-old man has died after paramedics say an angry crowd prevented them from treating him in Sydney’s south.

Paramedics were called to Iris Avenue in Riverwood where the 25-year-old was suspected of having suffered an overdose on Sunday morning.

Five paramedics attended the scene but were not able to treat the man, who they said was in cardiac arrest.

According to the Australian Paramedics Association, relatives of the man became “irate” and a crowd of “angry males” attempted to intervene, blocking those trying to administer treatment.

Paramedics called for police to attend at about 7.45am, but the man was dead by the time they arrived.

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SMH: Assaults on paramedics an unacceptable workplace hazard

Aug 15, 2018

Sunday’s article by Julie Power exposes the shocking cases of assault experienced every day by NSW paramedics. Power’s story reveals the harrowing experiences of individual officers who have been bitten, punched and attacked by patients who behave “like the zombie apocalypse and the walking dead”.

These are not isolated cases. The article also details the decade-long trend of attacks on officers,  which has risen significantly.

These assaults are committed against the women and men whose job it is to save our lives. They work long, antisocial hours, deal with all of life’s gruesome tragedies and crimes and often perform heroic feats of bravery, skill and courage.

But in today’s society, with the prevalence of drugs, alcohol and family violence, they are at serious risk of verbal and physical assault.

Read more.

Whiskey-a-go-go: Mixers after midnight laws dumped

Sep 29, 2017

FINE whiskey connoisseurs will finally be able to sip from their favourite tipple without having to endure mixers after midnight in a further relaxation of Sydney’s booze laws from Sunday morning.

Forced early closures and lockouts imposed in the wake of a spate of booze-fuelled assaults have been a blow to the city’s night-life.

As the rate of drunken ­violence has slowed, the laws have been slowly wound back under Liquor Minister Paul Toole.

Latest figures show ­assaults down 50 per cent in Kings Cross since 2014 and down 13 per cent in the CBD.

Shannen Gallacher enjoys a drink in The Barbershop Bar on York St, Sydney. Picture: Dylan Robinson

There has been a corresponding small increase in ­assaults in places such as Newtown, Surry Hills and Double Bay, which some punters turned to as alternative night-time ­destinations.

Now the state government is allowing venues in the CBD and Kings Cross classified as small bars — which can only host up to 100 customers — far greater flexibility on spirits and ­cocktails.

From midnight on Sunday small bars will no longer have to serve a mixer with spirits after midnight, enabling punters to sup on a decent whiskey, bourbon or any other spirit, straight and undiluted.

However, from Sunday there will also be a freeze on new ­liquor licences in the same inner city areas until mid-2018 as well as the start of a “three strikes” regime against licence-holders breaching liquor laws.

Mr Toole said the small bar law change would be welcomed by top shelf alcohol aficionados.

“Those who appreciate fine whisky in a relaxed, intimate small bar setting would sooner go without than be forced to ­dilute their favourite drop,” Mr Toole said.

Loosening up.

Small Bars Association chairman Martin O’Sullivan welcomed the changes. “It never made sense in a global city like this to explain to a customer they could only have a nip of whiskey past midnight if I mixed it with coke,” he said.

“These bars specialise in premium spirits, so these changes will help our industry grow and contribute to a vibrant but safe night-time economy.”

Mike Enright, owner-operator of The Barbershop Bar in York Street, agreed: “The rule was a bit silly. What’s the point of ageing a whiskey for 30 years only to mix it with soda?”

Also being scrapped for small bars is a bizarre rule that prohibited bar staff making cocktails that weren’t listed on menus.

“Bartenders are rightly proud of their trade, and by removing this restriction, we are encouraging Sydney’s small bars to ­innovate and flourish,” Mr Toole added.

Sunday small bars will no longer have to serve a mixer with spirits after midnight. Picture: Dylan Robinson

The rules are only being ­applied to small bars because the state government says they have “good compliance records and a low risk of alcohol-related violence”.

While the state government is relaxing those laws it has ­extended a freeze on new liquor licences in the CBD and Kings Cross until June 2018.

Midnight, Sunday also marks the start of the new “three strikes” regime, whereby licence holders can be stripped of their right to sell booze if they continually breach liquor laws.

Previously the rules applied to venues rather than individual licence holders.

Sydney’s booze laws were ­relaxed in January, including an extension of last drinks from 3am to 3.30am for venues offering live entertainment.

Read more in The Daily Telegraph

Community input on NSW liquor licences to be reviewed

Jun 19, 2017

By Sean Nicholls

The process by which members of the community can have their say on proposals for new liquor licences will be reviewed by the NSW government for the first time in almost a decade.

Racing Minister Paul Toole has announced that Liquor and Gaming NSW has issued a discussion paper on the evaluation of so-called Community Impact Statements and is calling for public submissions by July 26.

A Community Impact Statement is a written summary of the potential harm a liquor licence might have on a neighbourhood. It must contain community stakeholder feedback, such as concerns and support.

The statements are required when applications for a range of liquor licences are made, including for a hotel, club, bottle shop and some small bars.

The statement is posted on the Liquor and Gaming NSW website for 30 days for comment.

The discussion paper asks for feedback on the efficacy of the statements, whether there are “opportunities to cut red tape and minimise delays” and what types of liquor licences should be required to complete them.

It says the results of the evaluation “are expected to inform a broader review seeking to better align the planning and liquor approvals processes”, which is proposed for later in 2017.

“It’s important that those potentially affected by liquor licences have input into the assessment process, whether they be residents, councils, police or others,” Mr Toole said.

“But it’s also important that pubs, bars and other venues can continue to provide options for people who want to socialise and enjoy themselves.”

Article published on The Sydney Morning Herald 

THE AUSTRALIAN: Sydney’s Sin City, Kings Cross, is emerging from the wreckage of the state’s controversial lockout laws with a new culture of underground boutique wine bars and pop-up eateries.

Mar 30, 2017

From gin joints down abandoned laneways, to whisky bars concealed behind unmarked doors, the area is experiencing a renaissance as young entrepreneurs reimagine spaces in a suburb long known as a red-light district.

Staff at the Equilibrium ­graph­ic design company have joined forces to launch a book offering an insight into the rebirth of the area from the perspective of bar owners, chefs and baristas.

Creative director Bec Paton said the idea came about after she witnessed the devastating effect of the lockout laws, introduced in March 2014, which banned many bars and pubs in Kings Cross from admitting anyone after 1.30am.

Locals complained that foot traffic was cut significantly, for­cing many businesses to close.

“There has been a lot of really negative discourse around Kings Cross, particularly since the lockout laws,” Ms Paton said. “But the Cross is growing up and is starting to become a centre of gastronomy and mixology. It is a really tight-knit, village-style community.”

The book, Naughty x Nice: Recipes + Stories from Kings Cross, Sydney, explores the sordid history­ of the Cross and examines the new night-life emerging in its place.

“We all live and work in the area so we selected some of our favourite bars and cafes and interviewed them about their perceptions about how the Cross is changing,” Ms Paton said. Each venue has also contributed a ­recipe that reflects their love of the area, including a reimagined pina colada from The Roosevelt. Originally owned by infamous gangster Abe Saffron, The Roosevelt was one of the jewels of King Cross in the 1940s, hosting Sammy Davis Jr, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.

Today, the exclusive cocktail bar, owned by hospitality mogul Sven Almenning, has a different look but operates under its origina­l name in a homage to “its ­famous forebears”.

“We consider the latest wave of bars and restaurants are contributing to a newer social history, and some of them have really ­interesting food and drink philosophies,” Ms Paton said.

“The owner of an Indian rest­aurant called Malabar was a chemist, and is interested in cooking Indian cuisine in really ­nutritional and healthy ways, which his customers love.”

According to Ms Paton, the characters in the book perfectly ­illustrate a fresh new feel for Kings Cross.

“The lockout laws have been devastating for business and night-life, but there are still really interesting things happening, and people have been extremely ­entrepreneurial in the area to give the Cross new life,” she said.

Originally published in The Australian

DAILY TELEGRAPH: Michael Thorn: Lockout laws are keeping Sydney safe

Feb 7, 2017

Do we really want to roll the dice and risk all we have achieved? Sydney’s lockout laws have only been in place for two years and rates of violence and hospital emergency department ­presentations are down.

The action of the O’Farrell government in February 2014 achieved what health and law enforcement experts promised. Yet, here we are two years later talking about abandoning these lifesaving measures. What have we accomplished?

The lives of those who live and visit Kings Cross have been transformed. Police, diverted to act as taxpayer-funded crowd controllers for pub and clubs, can return to fighting crime.

St Vincent’s Hospital emergency department doctors can focus less on the bloody aftermath of alcohol-­fuelled street violence, and instead on other patients in need.

The late night phone calls to the families of teenagers suffering life-threatening injuries have stopped. And taxpayers have been ­relieved of some of the financial burden of managing the gross oversupply of alcohol in Kings Cross and Sydney’s CBD. Christine Foster’s view, (‘Sydney’s been locked out too long’, Daily Telegraph, (2/2/17) is typical of those calling for the cancellation of the massively successful lockout laws.

A flawed argument that suggests just because the crisis seems to have passed we can now relax these modest restrictions. Let’s apply this misplaced logic to other areas of community risk.

There hasn’t been an Australia airline hijacking in years; let’s discontinue security checks at airports, perhaps even allow people to carry firearms again. There are fewer road crashes; let’s relax the allowable blood alcohol limit to 0.08, maybe even axe it.

None of these things will happen because governments understand the risks of removing these safeguards and the importance of acting in the public interest. Governments’ role is to ­protect the community. The problem with the hectoring of the opponents of Sydney’s modest restrictions on ­alcohol supply is their refusal to ­accept, or even understand, this notion of the public interest. Foster, the Keep Sydney Open crowd and bar owners seem to think we can have it all — late trading and no alcohol harm.

The evidence of medical experts shows the longer the hours of trading, the more alcohol harm. The lesson from Sydney’s world-leading lockout laws is that alcohol harm has been ­reduced. The smart thing to do is to apply what we have learned more widely. As we have done with road safety, disease control and terrorism.

Michael Thorn is Chief Executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE)

Originally published in The Daily Telegraph

SMH: Changes to the liquor laws are no gift to NSW

Dec 16, 2016

With Christmas fast approaching, the Baird government is hell bent on its image makeover. Think less the Grinch that tried to euthanise the greyhound industry, destroy local councils and shut down an entire city, and more the loveable Santa determined to win your affection and in the longer term your vote. Read more.

GQ INC: Barry O’Farrell Breaks Silence On Sydney Lockout Laws

Dec 5, 2016

The former NSW Premier, and architect of Sydney’s ‘lockout laws’, opens up to GQ about the ongoing issues in the Harbour city.

Given the anti-Baird sentiment blanketing Sydney, many have forgotten that it was, in fact, the NSW premier’s predecessor, Barry O’Farrell, who crafted the lockout laws.

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SMH: Majority oppose plan to extend NSW bottle shop opening hours: poll

Dec 5, 2016

Public attitudes towards extending opening hours for bottle shops in NSW are split along generational lines with the majority of young people supportive but over half of the wider community opposed.

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