Having witnessed firsthand the impacts of alcohol-fueled violence prior to the lockout laws, Independent Councillor Jenny Green, long-time resident of the Cross/Potts Point, wants the laws to stay.
The deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie occurred on the street that I live in.
The introduction and enforcement of the NSW State Government’s remarkably effective lockout laws have had a significant effect on calming the local streets of Kings Cross /Potts Point late at night. I support the continuation of the 10.00 pm closure of retail liquor outlets, the 1.30 am lock out and the 3.00 am cessation of alcohol service. This legislation must remain in place to encourage a more diverse, creative and safe nighttime entertainment environment, rather than regress to the situation that previously focused on volume of alcohol sales and consumption.
My local community no longer experiences the large, drunk and often violent crowds that previously gathered. The 10.00 pm closure of retail liquor outlets has significantly reduced the numbers of underage people who used to congregate on local streets, drink excessively and then get into fights.
As a councillor at the City of Sydney I have received, and continue to receive, a significant number of emails from constituents in the Kings Cross/Potts Point/Elizabeth Bay locations expressing their alarm and concern that the lockout laws may be changed by the State Government. While official BOCSAR figures on the impact of these laws are yet to be published, the anecdotal evidence from those in the front-line, namely police, medical specialists and others in the local communities, clearly confirm that violent alcohol-related assaults, and resulting permanent human carnage, is markedly reduced. The reported results expressed by medical professionals in the press highlight the positive effects of this progressive legislation.
For the alcohol lobby to claim that their business profits are dramatically and solely impacted as a direct result of the government’s 1.30 am lockout laws belies the fact that some years prior to the introduction of the legislation, pedestrian numbers were decreasing from peak periods in the nighttime districts at Kings Cross/Potts Point and therefore the “catchment” of prospective patrons was already reduced.
I attended the recent NSW ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAAPA) election forum, and among the many proposals discussed that I support is the establishment of a community defenders office that would assist individuals and communities in navigating and interacting with the liquor licence system. Currently it is extremely difficult for communities to gain information and provide feedback on liquor licence applications that occur in their neighbourhoods. I also fully support bans on political donations from the liquor industry and believe further restrictions should apply to alcohol marketing and promotion. Taxation and pricing should also be reformed to ensure the liquor industry takes a financial role in supporting communities affected by alcohol abuse.
I certainly appreciate that some local businesses have suffered as a result of the lockout laws. These businesses have been trying to adapt their business models to cope with the changing environment: some have been more successful than others, with one of the main issues facing them being the lack of consultation prior to the implementation of the new measure. Last year I met with local business owners and stakeholders to discuss ideas and strategies to adapt business models. One of the key outcomes of these meetings was the need for the diversification of entertainment options to cater to all age groups and interests, such as small-venue live music, cabaret, immersive theatre, creative arts, galleries and late-night retail.
Some good news is that local solicitors inform me that business-related leases are on the rise since the introduction of the lockout laws as their clients feel the area is now safer.
I support economically-vibrant day and night time precincts, but not at the expense of the safety and well-being of patrons and communities. The liquor lockout laws, as they stand, must remain in place and, given the immediate reduction in alcohol-related violence, should be expanded across the state.
The drinking culture in Australia is a complex issue. Misuse of alcohol must be seriously considered by governments in light of the damning evidence that exists of the damage to individuals and also their families, who have to live with the permanent effects of over consumption of alcohol.