By Ian Neubauer
The NSW Liquor Administration Board (LAB) has reserved judgement in a noise disturbance complaint by Newcastle Police against 15 pubs and clubs in the city.
“Yesterday there was the final hearing with final written and verbal submission put forth by police, residents and legal representatives of the venues,” said a spokesperson for the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.
“The Liquor Administration Board chairman [David Armati] ended up reserving judgment so he could provide a written judgment,” the spokesperson said.
The action resumes a July application under section 104 of the NSW Liquor Act that provides relief in the case of undue disturbances, and dovetails a police application to revoke all-night trading in the City of Newcastle.
In an in-depth feature published yesterday by the ABC, Newcastle’s CBD was described as a weekend war-zone as a result of an influx of young people from the suburbs and surrounding regions who steam into the city to patronise the city’s licensed premises on Friday and Saturday nights.
“We have the highest assault rate in New South Wales, which is appalling [and] the vandalism is out of control,” Newcastle councillor Aaron Buman told the national broadcaster.
“Most of the residents live in the city, they’re 55 and over and they won’t come out after dark and they don’t leave their environment because they’re scared,” he said.
But Newcastle licensee Eamonn McCabe said restricting trading hours was not the answer.
“If there are people who are the cause of antisocial behaviour we have manners in which they can [be] identified and removed from the system. So should the other 20,000 people who visit Newcastle be punished because of the actions of a few?” he said.
A spokesperson for Newcastle Police said the force would defer comment until the LAB passed judgement on the matter.
LAB chairman Armati has not scheduled a timeframe for the release of his judgement.