By Deborah Jackson, editor National Liquor News
The Liquor Stores Association of NSW (LSA NSW) has responded to reports that the NSW Police Association would back changes to the state's lockout laws, with later bottleshop closing times at the top of the list.
According to Newscorp reports, the NSW Police Association president, Scott Weber, said his members would consider supporting some changes, including later trading hours for bottleshops and an extension past the current lockout time of 1:30am, provided there was evidence to show it would have no impact on public safety.
Michael Waters, the executive director of LSA NSW told TheShout: "LSA NSW, and our members who do have a need to trade beyond 10pm, whether they are situated in regional or metro NSW, or whether their need is on a regular basis or for just one night each year, are pleased to hear the NSW Police Association is supportive of some much-needed ‘common sense’ changes to the current state-wide 10pm takeaway liquor sales restriction.
"While the majority who sell packaged liquor in NSW do not have sufficient customers to justify opening after 10pm, many do for one reason or another, and as LSA put forward in our submission to the Callinan Review, this was the only ‘one-size-fits-all’ blanket measure that did punish responsible licensees and customers.
"Our members firmly believe that their customers are by far and large mature, responsible adults who weren’t doing anything wrong by being able to make a purchase after 10pm, and the evidence supports this.
"Common social misconception is that alcohol-fuelled violence and assault are on the increase, where in fact the opposite is true with the evidence confirming alcohol-related violence across NSW – domestic and non-domestic assaults – has been in steady decline since 2009, and has decreased by over 35 per cent in the past seven years.
"Further, careful LSA analysis of BOCSAR data has confirmed that the state-wide 10pm restriction has had absolutely zero impact on the rate of alcohol-related domestic violence assaults – the measure did not move the trend line one iota from its previous downward trajectory.
"Of real concern however, is that at the same time as alcohol-related incidents have been in consistent decline, non-alcohol-related domestic assault, and illicit drug-related offences continue to increase at a rapid rate of knots, and we have been calling on the Government for some years to re-focus its energy and resources toward these areas, rather than continue to place further regulatory burden and restrictions on licensees and customers.
"LSA is committed to continue working with Government and other stakeholders, including Scott Weber and the NSW Police Association, to better understand, develop and implement targeted strategies to address the misuse of alcohol, and believe that a targeted, evidence-based approach to policy making, delivered in partnership with all stakeholders, will lead to the implementation of measures that can have a real effect on harm minimisation, without negatively impacting on the vast majority of individuals who consume alcohol responsibly.
"The recent Government Roundtable Meetings, which LSA NSW was invited to participate in alongside the NSW Police Association and other stakeholders, focused on developing strategies and actions for a safe, strong and vibrant night-time economy in Sydney – this is a good example of key stakeholders coming together to put emotion aside, and share best available evidence to develop real workable and meaningful solutions, and we look forward to many more," said Waters.