By Andrew Starke

Three Kings Cross nightclubs, a repeatedly targeted Northern Beaches icon and a high-profile Merivale venue are among 29 NSW pubs and hotels that will be allowed to operate without restriction this summer.

The NSW Government recently announced the latest list of venues that will be subject to restrictions due to having too many violent alcohol related incidents.

Just eight venues will be subject to Level 1 restrictions from today (Dec 1), down from 48 when the ‘violent venues scheme’ was launched in December 2008.

Level 1 venues are those with 19 or more violent incidents in a year.

For the first time there are no Level 1 venues in Central Sydney. Eight Level 1 venues and 34 Level 2 venues will now be on the list for six months from December– the lowest number in the history of the scheme.

Despite repeated pleas by the industry for government not to make decisions based on ‘flawed statistics (used) to determine blanket restrictions’, the figures remain biased against large venues.

Perennial offenders Mean Fiddler (62 incidents over the past year) and Penrith Rugby Leagues Club (61) again top the list, both recording over twice as many assaults as the third-placed venue, Fanny’s of Newcastle (29).

These and the other five Level 1 venues will continue to operate under restricted conditions including lockouts, extra security, mandatory free water and food for patrons and bans on glass and high-strength alcohol products after midnight.

Gaming and Racing Minister Kevin Greene said the new list has seen a dramatic drop in incidents since the last was released six months ago in June.

“This latest list highlights extraordinary reductions in violent incidents at individual venues across NSW,” he said.

“For instance, there are no Level 1 venues in Central Sydney for the first time.

“39 of the 57 venues on the list announced in June recorded reductions in violent incidents.”

This decrease has resulted in 29 licensed venues, most of which had been subjected to Level 2 restrictions (12 to 18 violent incidents in a year), being removed from the list after their incident rates fell below the threshold.

14 new pubs and clubs with increasing violent incidents have been added to Level 2 with Home Nightclub (13), The Coogee Bay Hotel (15) and The Eastern in Bondi Junction (12) amongst these.

Tunnel Nightclub (11), Candy’s Nightclub (8) and the currently closed The Bourbon (8), all in Kings Cross, were removed from the list as were the Steyne Hotel (11) in Manly and Establishment Hotel (10) on George Street.

Greene said reductions have been seen at venues in both Sydney and regional NSW.

Castle Hill RSL Club recorded a 58 percent reduction in incidents and the Gaff Restaurant, Bar & Nightclub in Darlinghurst saw a 56 percent drop.

There was a 44 percent reduction at the Establishment Hotel in Sydney and Manly’s Steyne Hotel saw a 35 percent reduction.

“At the end of the day it’s clear – we are providing real incentives for licensees and staff to prevent intoxication and violence,” said Greene.

“They know if they record 12 or more incidents in a year we will place special conditions onto them.”

Incidents are reviewed by NSW Police and then Communities NSW to ensure they’re fairly attributed to a licensed venue.

The two-tiered approach also examines each incident to confirm they’re alcohol-related, occurred on or near the licensed premises, and was linked to the venue and its patrons.

To be removed from the list a venue must have been on it for a minimum of six months, record fewer than 12 incidents in a year, prepare an effective venue safety plan addressing key risks, and have a good track record of compliance.

AHA NSW CEO, Sally Fielke, told TheShout she welcomed the ‘dramatic drop’ in the number of hotels subject to trading restrictions after anti-social incidents.

“When the former Rees Government introduced the tiered system in December 2008, 48 venues were restricted for having 19 or more violent incidents a year, placing them on Level 1 restrictions – today that figure has dropped to eight percent statewide, a reduction of 83 percent,” she said

“The AHA (NSW) remains strongly opposed to the use of flawed statistics to determine blanket restrictions.

“Licensed venues should be dealt with individually with only those rogue operators facing severe sanctions – larger venues continue to be unfairly included in this process.”

Fielke said the fact that there are now no Level 1 venues in Central Sydney for the first time was testament to the hard work hoteliers in that area are doing to improve services and make their venues safe.

“They (the figures) also show there is no need for the City of Sydney to impose its draconian control development plans on hotels in its attempts to strangle Sydney’s vibrant nightlife,” she said.

“At the end of the day, we have millions of people go through NSW hotels each and every week and there are relatively few anti-social incidents.

“The figures reflect this – it is also to be noted that the number of assaults in all licensed premises is down 10.8 percent.”

The average hotel in NSW spends $142,000 on security per annum.

For a full list of Level 1 and Level 2 venues, including those venues that have been added to or removed from the lists, click here.


The Shout Team

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

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