May 1, 2018

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

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