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.

Newcastle Herald: A Hunter study provides evidence to back retention of ‘Newcastle solution’ licensing laws

Nov 23, 2017

NEWCASTLE’S “last drinks” and “lockout” laws have led to a “significant and sustained” 31 per cent reduction in serious alcohol-related facial injury assault cases at John Hunter Hospital, a Hunter research team has found.

Serious facial injury assaults treated at the hospital increased at a rate of 14 per cent per year from 2003 to 2008 before the ‘Newcastle solution’ to violent incidents in the CBD was enacted, a report led by University of Newcastle conjoint professor and maxillofacial surgeon Gary Hoffman said.

The facial injury assault figure decreased at a rate of 21 per cent per year after 2008, leading to a 31 per cent relative reduction, the report Liquor legislation, last drinks and lockouts: the Newcastle solution said.

The study tested the “regional implementation” of laws to limit alcohol access on facial injury assault cases at John Hunter Hospital. It found the downward assault trend applied to all males aged 18-35.

“The introduction of ‘last drinks’ and ‘lockout’ legislation has led to a significant and sustained reduction in assaultive alcohol-related facial injury in Newcastle,” the study found.

Read the full story on the Newcastle Herald.

Media Release: Emergency services workers demand Premier intervene

Nov 22, 2017

Download the PDF of this media release here. 

Emergency services workers demand Premier intervene over Minister’s capitulation to booze lobby over Newcastle liquor laws

Police and ambulance officers, nurses and doctors demand Premier Berejiklian immediately intervene over NSW Liquor and Gaming Minister’s Paul O’Toole’s and complete capitulation to the booze lobby over Newcastle’s incredibly successful liquor laws which have cut violence and saved lives.

Last Drinks Coalition spokesperson Scot Weber said that emergency service workers were absolutely appalled that Phillip Crawford, Chair of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (IGLA) who reports to the Minister, announced he would review the Newcastle liquor laws at the request of the powerful Australian Hotels Association (AHA) with no consultation of the community or emergency services stakeholders and not public hearing.

“This is a disgraceful and duplicitous act which Premier Berejiklian needs to immediately halt.”

“The Newcastle liquor laws are a case study in how effective liquor regulation can transform violent, blood soaked streets into a vibrant nightlife precinct that families and people of all ages can enjoy.”

“Now, at the behest of the AHA and completely out of the blue, Minister O’Toole is overseeing a snap review of those laws with the barely concealed agenda of watering them down.”

“The people of Newcastle and NSW have every right to ask, in whose interests is this State being run? The community or the liquor industry?”

Mr. Weber said this latest announcement followed a very worrying trend where the Berejiklian Government had been throwing effective liquor regulation overboard to appease vested interests at the expense of community safety.

“Earlier this year trading hours were extended under the dubious proposition of supporting live music, despite the fact that every extra hour of liquor service after midnight increases the rate of street violence by 20%.”

“In September the Berejiklian Government announced it was bringing back alcohol ‘shots’ to allegedly support small bars, despite knowing they rapidly increase intoxication.”

“Now, Minister Paul O’Toole is taking an axe to Newcastle’s moderate and successful liquor laws, which over nine years of operation have saved lives and spared hundreds of young people severe injury, at the request of his mates in the AHA.”

“The only group who stand to win from this review is the liquor industry. Once again it will be the Newcastle community and emergency services workers who lose.”

“Premier Berejiklian must intervene immediately to halt this sham review and support the peace and safety of the people of Newcastle.”

Tony Brown, the Community Advocate who campaigned with over 150 residents and Police to create the successful ‘Newcastle Solution’ is available for interview and comment on 0448100699

Contact: Darren Rodrigo 0414 783 405
The facts on the successful Newcastle liquor laws

  • Since 2008 there has been a 72% reduction in weekend night-time assaults with a commensurate reduction in work for ambulance, police and hospital admissions.
  • This translates to 6000 less assaults.
  • The John Hunter Hospital Maxillofacial unit reports that there has been a 40%

    reduction in serious facial injuries since 2008.

  • One pub has closed (due to fire).
  • There has been a 110% increase in the number of licensed premises – mostly small bars and licensed restaurants in the CBD.
  • This has significantly increased local jobs in the industry.
  • A Newcastle Council Survey found overwhelming community and patron support for

    the measures.

  • The Newcastle suite of modest restrictions to trading hours etc has been recognised internationally as a model for sustained crime reduction.

    Source: NSW Police Association

    The Last Drinks Coalition is comprised of Police, Ambulance Officers, Doctors, Nurses and Emergency Services workers committed to reducing alcohol related violence and its consequences.

    Visit for more information.

Newcastle Herald: Outrage over fast-track review of newcastle solution lockout laws

Nov 22, 2017

THE NSW Government has been accused of backing a sham review of Newcastle’s nearly decade-old lockout laws without a public hearing, with a tight deadline and at the behest of the hotel industry.

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority confirmed the review in a statement on Tuesday, nearly six months after the Australian Hotels Association asked for reconsideration of the “Newcastle solution” conditions imposed in 2008.

Authority chair Philip Crawford said barrister Jonathan Horton, QC, would take written submissions from the public, police, businesses and other groups until December 13 on current 1am and 1.30am lockouts and 3am and 3.30am closing times applying to 15 Newcastle venues, and report to the authority by December 22.

Read the full article on The Newcastle Herald.

Local councils step up to reduce alcohol violence

Oct 6, 2017

After campaigning by emergency services and other community groups, 54 councils in Sydney are stepping up to reduce alcohol related violence.

A great win for communities in Sydney who can now enjoy a safer neighbourhood.

The Daily Telegraph, Heather McNab.

IF YOU’RE thinking of cracking open a cold one in the City of Sydney, think again — a further 54 areas around the inner city are tipped to become alcohol free.

The proposed areas, which include a large swath from Surry Hills, Kings Cross and Glebe, would bring the total of alcohol free zones and areas to 416 — almost three times the number in place in 2009.

The proposed areas are based off applications from police, community and internal City units and cover permanent, temporary and event-related restrictions.

Thirteen parks, including Macleay Reserve and Green Park in Kings Cross, would be permanently alcohol free.

In an internal document seen by Central Sydney detailing the proposed restrictions,City Life director Ann Hoban said the zones aimed to “help prevent alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and crime, including damage to property, littering and noise impacts”.

Last year council voted to scrap 62 public alcohol free zones and areas, a decision which was criticised by the Police Association of NSW.

“Removing alcohol-free zones makes the job of local police in these areas more difficult”, PANSW president Scott Weber said at the time.

A City spokeswoman would not comment on whether the introduction of the zones has sparked a backlash from police or the local community.

Thirteen parks, including Macleay Reserve and Green Park in Kings Cross and Jubilee Park Playground and Harold Park Playground, will be permanently alcohol free under the proposal.

Read the full article on The Daily Telegraph. 

Media Release – Return of ‘shots’ to Sydney bars latest chapter in roll back of life saving alcohol laws

Sep 29, 2017

Emergency service workers have expressed serious concerns with the NSW Government’s latest moves to roll back successful alcohol laws which have saved lives and prevented hundreds of alcohol related assaults and injuries.

Last Drinks Coalition spokesperson Dr Tony Sara said that the Government’s removal of the requirement for small bars to serve spirits with a mixer after midnight was of particular concern.

“The requirement to serve a spirit with a mixer after midnight was designed to eliminate the practice of ‘taking a shot’, where an entire 30ml serve of alcohol is consumed in one hit, often multiple times over the evening.”

“Shots increase the rapidness and intensity of intoxication and greatly contribute to public drunkenness and violence. Unfortunately, the NSW Government has brought them back.”

“The significant reduction we’ve seen in alcohol-related violence and serious injury has been directly attributable to the strong alcohol measures and the effectiveness of the lock out laws.”

“By extending opening hours earlier this year and now removing liquor restrictions such as these, the NSW Government risks a return to the violence which flooded Sydney’s streets and caused the tragic deaths of young people like Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie.”

“The lock out laws have been a highly successful in reducing alcohol related violence and assaults and have greatly improved the quality of life for local residents in suburbs previously drowning in alcohol fueled violence.”

“Last year Kings Cross saw a 59.2 per cent decrease in assaults between 6pm and 1.30am and a staggering 93.9 per cent decrease between 3am and 6am.”

“Staff at St Vincent’s hospital saw a 50 per cent reduction in the number of patients admitted with head injuries between 8pm and 8am.

“Lives have been saved and hundreds of people have been spared serious life changing injury thanks to these laws. It would be a tragedy to see those achievements lost and to put lives at risk” Dr Sara said.

“Police officers, doctors, nurses and ambulance officers call on the NSW Government to side with the community and to stop the roll back of these lifesaving laws.”

Visit for more information.

Contact:  Darren Rodrigo 0414 783 405

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.