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

Boston: Tighter alcohol policies leads to lower rates of violence and homicide

Sep 26, 2017

Research published by the Boston Medical Center has demonstrated the importance of making tighter alcohol control policies as a way to help reduce violence, including homicide.

“A one percent increase in the restrictiveness of policies corresponded to a one percent lower chance of alcohol being involved among homicide victims.” Read more about the research below:

Stricter Alcohol Policies Tied to Fewer Alcohol-Related Homicides

By Traci Pedersen

Stricter alcohol policies, including taxes and sales restrictions, help lower the odds of alcohol-related homicides, according to new research at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Boston University (BU).

The new findings highlight the importance of making tighter alcohol control policies as a way to help reduce violence, including homicide.

Alcohol is a known risk factor for homicide perpetration and victimization. Between 40 and 50 percent of homicides in the United States involve the use of alcohol by either the victim or perpetrator.

In addition, more than half of homicides involve people who are significantly impaired by alcohol, which means that their blood alcohol levels are at or above 0.08 percent, the legal limit for driving.

Until now, however, it remained unknown exactly how alcohol policies — which include alcohol taxes and the number of places licensed to sell alcohol — relate to alcohol-related homicides.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the association between alcohol policies in place and the likelihood of alcohol involvement (either up to the legal limit of 0.08 or above that limit) among the 27,000 victims of homicide from 17 U.S. states between 2003 and 2012.

The data was taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System. State alcohol policies for each year were characterized using the “Alcohol Policy Scale,” a measure of the policy “environment” based on 29 separate alcohol control policies.

Tighter, more restrictive state alcohol policies were protective when alcohol was involved in a homicide. In fact, a one percent increase in the restrictiveness of policies corresponded to a one percent lower chance of alcohol being involved among homicide victims.

“Given the risks involved with alcohol use, strengthening effective alcohol policies could help prevent homicides,” said Timothy Naimi, M.D., the study’s lead author who is a physician in general internal medicine at BMC and researcher at BMC’s Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine.

In addition, findings were similarly protective among important groups who account for a large proportion of deaths or who are particularly vulnerable, including young adult homicide victims, those who died in intimate partner violence-related homicides, and those who died from firearms-related homicides, including murders involving guns.

“Both alcohol and guns are significant social determinants of homicide, either considered independently or in combination, and it is important to recognize the potential of policy to help curb these critical problems,” said Naimi, who also is associate professor at both BU School of Medicine and BU School of Public Health.

The study is published online in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Source: Boston Medical Center

Are residents better off under the Sydney ‘lockout laws’?

Sep 12, 2017

The Sydney “lockout laws” have created significant debate about whether crime is being reduced, if it is being pushed into surrounding areas, and what the impacts are on local residents.

The Conversation – September 12, 2017

The Sydney “lockout laws” have created significant debate about whether crime is being reduced, if it is being pushed into surrounding areas, and what the impacts are on local residents.

My research with Georgia Perks found that, despite reports of increased violence in these areas surrounding the lockout zone, the benefit outweighs the costs for local residents.

Our analysis of rental prices shows a small decline immediately after the lockout laws came into effect in February 2014. Since then, rents in these areas have outstripped other comparable areas in Sydney.

This shows that residents of areas affected by the lockout are benefiting from new entertainment hubs and a nightlife economy that have sprung up since the lockout laws took effect.

Read more on The Conversation.

Taking on the alcohol industry Goliath

Sep 6, 2017

The NSW Government has approved every single liquor license put in front of it in the last 8 months. The alcohol industry is in a virtually invincible position when it applies for liquor licenses in NSW.

Listen to Dr John Crozier, who says the NSW system is broken, and needs significant reform to give equal weight to community objections.


Evaluation of community impacts of liquor licenses

Aug 24, 2017

It is evident that current processes for liquor licensing applications are stripping communities of having a voice against the large liquor businesses who are forging their way into local communities.

A series of submissions have been made to the the Liquor and Gaming NSW’s Evaluation of the Community Impact Statement requirement for liquor applications, which you can read here. 

The NSW and ACT Alcohol and Policy Alliance (NAAPA)  has raised serious concerns over the lack of community power in the current liquor licensing processes:

“New South Wales communities are being robbed of the opportunity to object to or complain about liquor licence applications, by an unfair, complex and outdated regulatory system.

In its submission to Liquor and Gaming NSW’s Evaluation of the Community Impact Statement requirement for liquor applications, the state’s leading alcohol policy coalition, the NSW and ACT Alcohol and Policy Alliance (NAAPA) has called for sweeping changes to current liquor licensing processes.

Dr John Crozier, co-chair of the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) Committee and Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee says the Community Impact Statement (CIS) requirement for liquor applications should be a requirement for all liquor licence applications, but in its current form, is broken and not fit for purpose.

“NAAPA, and communities across NSW have long argued that the current alcohol licensing processes in this State leave them effectively locked out. Their voices are silenced and their hands tied by a system that unequivocally favours the alcohol industry,” Dr Crozier said.

Among its seven recommendations, NAAPA says the Government must improve public awareness, engagement and community input into these processes, and ensure that community members can have a greater say.

Dr Crozier, a trauma surgeon who has been involved in a number of community efforts to challenge liquor licence applications, argues that one simple and effective way to achieve greater public awareness and community input would be for the Government to broaden its definition of ‘local community’.

“At present, concerned communities and citizens are neither consulted nor made aware of liquor licence applications that will negatively impact them, because they don’t live within 100 metres of the proposed development. That is unfair and unnecessarily restrictive,” Dr Crozier said.

NAAPA has also recommended an important change that would place the onus of proof onto applicants, instead of community objectors.

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education Chief Executive, Michael Thorn says it should be up to the applicant to demonstrate that a liquor licence will not contribute to further harm.

“We need to restore fairness and logic into the current Community Impact Statement system and one of the most effective ways to do so is to place the onus of proof on the party with both the financial interest, as well as the potential to cause harm to the community,” Mr Thorn said.

NAAPA has again repeated its calls for the establishment of an independent Community Defenders Office (CDO) to help individuals and communities navigate and interact with the complex liquor licensing system.

Mr Thorn says the CDO would be modelled on the Alcohol Community Action Project, and would consist of both an advisory service to provide communities with free and timely access to skilled personnel, together with a central information service.

“The establishment of a Community Defenders Office would remove a number of barriers that currently prevent communities from engaging in liquor licensing decisions, providing them with the skills, experience and knowledge they require. The lesson from the Alcohol Community Action Project is there is an unmet demand and need for such a service that can be successfully met with a modest investment by the New South Wales Government,” Mr Thorn said.”

You can download the PDF of NAAPA’s release here. 


Sydney pubs cracking down this Sunday

Aug 21, 2017

The Floyd Mayweather – Conor McGregor fight next Sunday has raised concerns for the likelihood of drunken violence in Sydney’s pubs, with venues in the Eastern suburbs banning the fight altogether. Police have confirmed extra officers will be on duty to cope with the large crowds at pubs across Sydney to minimise the risk of violence. 

“Licensing police in Sydney’s east have warned publicans to serve alcohol only in plastic cups, limit the purchases for each patron and not to serve ‘shots’.”

Read more on The Daily Telegraph.

Wising up to a culture of drink

Aug 21, 2017

Catherine Lambert – The Daily Telegraph

A decade ago, 52 per cent of people were drinking to excess when they socialised, but that number has now dropped to 33 per cent, according to a 10-year study commissioned by DrinkWise.

The social change organisation’s ambassador Dr Andrew Rochford said the message about excessive drinking was finally getting through to the community.

“It’s always been difficult to tackle the huge drinking culture in Australia but people are definitely reporting that they’re moving towards a more healthy relationship with alcohol,” Dr Rochford said.

“It’s really no longer regarded as cool because there is a greater shift towards pursuing a healthy lifestyle among young people in particular.

“They’re more conscious and thoughtful about their choices.”

The research also found 20 per cent of Australians abstain from alcohol altogether, compared to only 11 per cent in 2007. And where and what we are drinking has changed as well, with 63 per cent of people choosing to drink at home while enjoying a meal or barbecue rather than going out.

Matthew Hughes, 29, said his priorities have now changed and weekends are a precious chance to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

“I don’t want to wake up on a Sunday morning on a lounge feeling sorry for myself and unhealthy,” Mr Hughes said.

“I want to wake up during the week feeling fresh so I only ever have a couple of drinks and on the weekend I’m in the gym or out running.

“As I see my friends less because I’m building my career, I want to maximise the times I have with them by talking and enjoying their company.”

Rachel Cox, 24, said her social life is more about attending yoga and pilates classes with friends followed by a healthy breakfast. She said: “I love my healthy, active lifestyle and maximising the days when I’m away from work so I’ll only ever have one or two glasses of wine at a wine bar or a friend’s house.”

Dr Rochford said “it has a flow-on effect’’, adding: “At least there’s a trend towards understanding the impact drinking has on our health.”

Originally published by Catherine Lambert on The Daily Telegraph. 

Northern Territory to take tougher approach on problem drinkers

Aug 18, 2017

The unacceptable levels of alcohol-fuelled violence in the Northern Territory has triggered a tougher approach to problem drinkers who are causing trouble in the community.

“Once the legislation passes, anyone who wants to buy takeaway alcohol in the Territory will have to supply a licence or evidence of age card to be scanned before they’re permitted to proceed with their purchase.”

Read more on ABC Online. 

England to tackle alcohol fuelled crime in Norwich

Aug 7, 2017

Dan Grimmer – Eastern Daily Press

A drive to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime and the harm too much drinking does to the health of people in Norwich is to be stepped up next month.

Amid concern that the number people drinking high-strength beers and ciders on city centre streets, a string of organisations are to join forces to help deal with the problems alcohol can cause.

Earlier this year, Norwich was identified by the government as a place which could benefit from help to cut drink-related crime and disorder.

It was named as a Local Action Alcohol Area, with the promise of dedicated help from Home Office and Public Health experts.

And, next month will see the first meeting of the various organisations which will come up with a plan on what can be done.

Read more on Eastern Daily Press. 

Rome steps up to ban drinking on the streets at night!

Aug 3, 2017

First it was eating and drinking near famous fountains. Now, Rome has made it clear that drinking is no longer welcome – at least, at night time, during the peak tourist season.

Mayor Virginia Raggi has brought in an order outlawing the sale and consumption of alcohol in public places, effective immediately and ending 31 October. The order covers 14 of the Italian capital’s 15 municipi, or areas.

The order, detailed on the city council’s website, bans the consumption of alcohol outdoors and on public transport from midnight to 7am. A ban on drinking from glass bottles comes in earlier, at 10pm.

Read more on Independent Co UK.