By Clyde Mooney – editor Australian Hotelier
The NSW Labor party has released an alcohol policy that calls for high-level restrictions, “risk-based licensing” and an independent watchdog for all liquor merchants.
Leader of the State Opposition, John Robertson, has put forth the “Drink Smart Home Safe” (DSHS) initiative, aiming “to reduce the alarming incidence of alcohol-fuelled violence”.
The DSHS suggests commitment to an 18-month trial of “Newcastle-style” restrictions applied to Kings Cross and the CBD, such as 1am lock-outs, 3am closing, and drink restrictions from 10pm.
It also calls for “Risk-based Licensing Fees” to encourage both hotels and bottle shops to “comply with the law” and flags “Controlled Purchase Operations” using underage participants to sting licensees.
The policy demands a new, independent liquor regulator tasked with “minimising alcohol-related harm”, and suggests additional revenue generated by the risk-based licences be used to fund further proactive measures such as more police, CCTV, transport and education campaigns.
Robertson’s policy goes some way toward equalising the blame associated with anti-social behaviour by incorporating bottle shops into the discussion, and citing research that attributes 70 per cent of alcohol purchases to the off-premise.
Research by National Drug Law Enforcement is also quoted that reports “18-24 year olds reported pre-drinking an average of 6 drinks before a night out”, suggesting the problem begins before patrons even arrive at venues.
Labor lays claim to be “consulting the experts” on the matter, and will hopefully continue on a course that goes further to address the problems more than simply penalise licensed premises for the public role they play in dealing with anti-social behaviour.
While the initiative calls for venue restrictions of the like that have proven successful in the Newcastle precinct, like the recent Kings Cross precinct conditions recently announced by the O’Farrell Government it fails to provide a solution for the logistical problems of precinct-wide ID Scanning and barring systems.