By Andy Young

Fergus Taylor, the Executive Director of Alcohol Beverages Australia has said that the Callinan Review into the amendments to the NSW Liquor Act, is a chance for the State Government to show the people of NSW it has listened to their protest.

Last week former High Court judge, Ian Callinan AC, released his review of the Liquor Act amendments which included lockout and last drink times in the Sydney CBD and 10pm closing time for packaged takeaway alcohol sales.

Taylor highlighted an increasingly vocal grass roots campaign against the lockout restrictions which has grown as businesses close down and foot traffic drops off in Sydney’s entertainment prectinct.

“At the core of these laws is the question of how much the Government should determine what choices responsible adults are allowed in their lives, and this is why they’ve proved so unpopular,” Taylor said.

“Mr Callinan makes the point that ‘autonomy of the individual and freedom of movement and choice are important aspirations’. Many people would consider these as democratic rights.

“The review is an opportunity for the State Government to wind back these restrictive laws and show NSW people it’s listening to what they’re saying.

“The alcohol beverages industry is ready to work with the Government and will support changes that will more fairly allow businesses to operate and encourage Sydneysiders and visitors to come out again and breathe nightlife back into the city,”

The ABA also points to the review acknowledging many of the problems that community has with the laws, including:

  • The sale of takeaway alcohol, whether before or after 10pm, makes little or no contribution to violence and anti-social behaviour in the Precincts, even less so when it is home delivered.
  • Reduction in opportunities for live entertainers – this has occurred.
  • Choice has been reduced because of earlier closing hours.
  • Opportunities for employment in the precincts have been reduced.
  • Some casual and shift workers have lost employment opportunities in the Precincts.
  • Some shift workers are unable to access venues as a result of the Amendments.  
  • Planning controls by way of highly conditioned approvals are unlikely to be a complete or entirely satisfactory means of regulating the sale and consumption of alcohol and its consequences.

Taylor also expressed disappointment that the review did not acknowledge the importance of alternative methods of tackling anti-social and violent behaviour.

“We have to do more to solve violence and anti-social behaviour than simply reducing the availability of alcohol,” Taylor said.

“We strongly urge the Government to consider more trains, bigger and better taxi ranks, better street design and facilities, increased policing, stronger penalties for offenders and more cultural change and education to help tackle these issues across the longer term.

“The Callinan review uses the popular term “alcohol-fuelled violence” and accepts the availability theory which allows the violent to hide behind their drinks as an excuse for their behaviour.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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