Media Release: Newcastle emergency services workers welcome decision to maintain liquor laws

May 1, 2018

Newcastle emergency service workers have welcomed the decision by the Horton Review for Newcastle’s life-saving liquor regulations to be maintained.

The Last Drinks Coalition of police officers, paramedics, nurses, doctors and health workers made a comprehensive submission to the Horton Review to protect Newcastle’s current alcohol regulations, which has now been vindicated by Horton’s decision.

NSW Police Association (Newcastle Branch) Chair and frontline police officer Cody Woods said “Emergency services workers in Newcastle are breathing a huge sigh of relief today to hear that Newcastle won’t be going back to the bloodied chaos that it was over a decade ago.”

“This decision will ensure that Novocastrians’ lives will continue to be saved by these modest but important alcohol restrictions.

“Before the Newcastle Solution, emergency department staff would describe scenes out of war zone; people bloodied from assaults, intoxicated patients unconscious and vomiting and a large prevalence of violence toward staff and other patients.”

“Thanks to the intervention, emergency department presentations for night time assault facial injuries fell 26% there was a 37% reduction in assaults.”

“Over just one 12-month period, that meant 429 fewer people were assaulted. In a decade, that’s over 4,000 people saved from serious or life-threatening injury.”

“We simply cannot allow our city to be dragged back into these horrific times to serve the vested interests of the powerful alcohol industry. We’re pleased that the Horton Review did not buckle at the behest of a large and wealthy liquor industry who were simply out to grow their profits.”

Mr Woods said if anything, there is a need for Newcastle’s liquor laws to be strengthened, not weakened.

“More alcohol means increased intoxication equals more assaults and related harms. Those are the facts.”

“That’s what the data from Newcastle and overseas tells us and that’s what eye witness accounts from Newcastle emergency services workers confirm on the streets.”

“The Newcastle Solution is a shining example of the effectiveness of lockout laws in reducing alcohol related violence on our streets, and highlights exactly why these laws need be rolled out across the state.”

In the submission, the Last Drinks coalition of police officers, paramedics, doctors, nurses and health sector workers included compelling local and international data demonstrating how increasing opening hours, extending the service of alcohol and providing exemptions to specific venues, inevitably leads to an increase in violence and other related health harms including the steady increase in the rate of alcohol injury admissions in the Newcastle LGA. 

This Media Release is on behalf of the Last Drinks Coalition



Newcastle Herald: Liquor authority says Newcastle licensing restrictions to stay after Horton review

May 1, 2018

THE Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority says it is considering “only minimal changes” to Newcastle’s late-night trading restrictions, after the Horton Report recommended leaving closing hours and the lockout laws where they were.

The Australian Hotels Association, which called last year for the review of the 2008 trading laws, said it was disappointed that Newcastle would still be subject to a “one size fits all” licensing regime.

“A decade on, ILGA is considering continuing with one-size-fits-all blanket measures, rather than accepting Dr Jonathan Horton’s view that venues that demonstrate good practices and that pose a lower risk ought to enjoy less restrictive conditions than those which do not,” AHA Newcastle/Hunter president Rolly De With said.

Community campaigner Tony Brown, one of the main voices opposed to the AHA, welcomed the liquor authority’s decision, saying it had come as a surprise.

But he cautioned that it was only an interim decision: the authority would give licensees 21 days to respond before making its final decision.

He said Dr Horton’s “venue-by-venue” recommendation would “provide extra ammunition” for those who supported extending trading hours.

“Dr Horton says he supports the existing regime, but by encouraging venues to apply for license variations one at a time, he is leaving the door open to dismantling the uniform conditions in a death of a thousand cuts,” Mr Brown said.

Read the full story here.

Last Drinks Media Release: Emergency services workers call for Premier to deliver transparency in Newcastle liquor law review

Feb 28, 2018


You can download the media release PDF here.

The Last Drinks Coalition of police and ambulance officers, nurses, doctors and health workers has expressed extreme disappointment with the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s (ILGA) decision to not publish submissions prior to the finalisation of the Newcastle liquor law review and have called on the Premier to intervene.

“We call on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to urgently intervene into this fiasco, to ensure that ILGA publishes submissions to the Newcastle liquor review prior to a decision being made. The community has a right to transparency in this process.”

In a joint statement the Coalition said that IGLA’s failure to publicise submissions to the review would deepen the concerns of emergency services workers and the public that the review is a fait accompli in favour of the powerful alcohol industry.

“The people of Newcastle have every right to see and analyse the information and evidence that will underpin decisions which will directly affect their daily lives.”

“ILGA’s decision to not publicise the submissions prior to a final decision being made worsens public suspicions that this review is little more than a Clayton’s consultation, designed to provide a veneer of legitimacy to a process which has the foregone conclusion of watering down Newcastle’s effective liquor laws.”

The Coalition said that IGLA’s refusal to publish submissions was just the latest act in a fraught and dubious process.

“For five months, ILGA refused to admit it was actually considering the AHA’s request to vary or revoke the Newcastle liquor conditions, until it was forced to do so due to public pressure in November 2017.”

“Then ILGA refused to allow NSW Police or NSW Health to provide any input into the review’s terms of reference.”

“This was followed by ILGA’s attempt to drastically truncate submissions to the review to just 16 days, until again pressured by the community and NSW Parliament.”

“The Last Drinks Coalition calls on the Premier to urgently intervene to deliver transparency and reiterates its call for ILGA to fully publish all submissions prior to completion of the review.”

“The Coalition does not accept ILGA’s assertion that do so would undermine the reviews effectiveness in any way, shape or form.”

“In fact, the opposite is true. Publicising submissions to the review would be a step toward restoring much needed public confidence in this review and the recommendations it will shortly make.”


The joint statement was provided by:


Scott Weber


Police Association of NSW                                        

Brett Holmes

General Secretary

Nurses and Midwives

Association NSW


Dr Tony Sara


Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation NSW

Gerard Hayes


Health Services Union



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. 

Last Drinks Coalition Submission to the Newcastle Independent Liquor Law Review

Feb 16, 2018

The Last Drinks Coalition made a submission to the Newcastle Independent Liquor Law Review in February 2018, calling on the NSW Government to maintain and strengthen the current raft of successful liquor laws.

You can view the full submission 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.