By Fergus Taylor, Executive Director, Alcohol Beverages Australia

Melbourne dropped theirs because they didn’t work. For the same reason, Queensland ditched theirs before they even started. 

Now it’s time for NSW to follow the evidence and scrap the Sydney lockout laws, which have been shown to be ineffective via the latest figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

While the BOCSAR lockouts report shows crime has declined in the lockout zone, it has also found that it has increased outside it: clear evidence that the laws are not working as intended and that solving the issue of violence requires a different, multi-faceted approach.

The recent minor relaxation of the laws has been a positive step towards returning some vibrancy and amenity to the city of Sydney and allowing grown-up, rational, law-abiding citizens – instead of hysterical anti-alcohol lobbyists – to decide when or where they can buy and enjoy their drinks.

In contrast to the “conveyor belt of carnage” as described recently by a sensationalist St Vincent’s Hospital representative, the 2014 report by Data Analysis Australia, How often does a night out lead to an assault estimates the risk you face of experiencing ‘alcohol-related’ violence on a night out at just 0.0125%, 

Given this figure is so low, and the fact that there is no credible evidence to suggest alcohol causes violence, it is difficult for the government to justify keeping current liquor licensing regulations based on harm reduction. The restrictions in place continue to impact on the freedom of locals and tourists not involved in violence to enjoy what is left of the nightlife that Sydney has to offer, and to negatively affect the economy.

Perception of danger is often far greater than reality. Yes, some people misuse alcohol. And several tragic incidents were the catalyst for the introduction of the lockout laws in 2014. But the fact is that these incidents do not reflect the experience of the vast majority of people who drink responsibly, respect RSA rules and respect each other – and this is what our laws should reflect.

What is needed is a pragmatic, evidence-based approach to the issue, taking into account reports like Alcohol/Drug-Involved Family Violence in Australia, released in December, which shows there has been a reduction in the number of ‘alcohol-related’ incidents in NSW, despite an increase in the availability of alcohol.

Implementing changes to policing and improving public transport across Sydney, and being less fixated on curbing nightlife and the activities of responsible drinkers would go a long way towards preserving the ongoing vitality of Sydney and undoing the economic and social damage caused by these nationally rejected lockout laws. 

The Shout Team

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

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