By James Atkinson
The New South Wales Government’s blanket ban on the sale after midnight of shots, doubles and Ready-To-Drink (RTD) beverages with more than five per cent alcohol across the Sydney CBD is completely unjustifiable, according to the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA).
Minister for Hospitality, Gaming and Racing Troy Grant and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Stuart Ayres announced the new restrictions this week as part of the Sydney Plan of Management for the CBD Entertainment Precinct that will come into effect on July 18.
Responding to the restrictions on spirits, DSICA spokesperson Stephen Riden said patron behaviour is about the individual and the Responsible Service of Alcohol to them.
“It is not about what type of drink they have in their hand after midnight,” he said.
“It is hard to see any valid reasoning behind the pointless decision to ban some RTDs. What is the real difference between an RTD at 5.1 per cent alcohol and a cider or beer at 5 per cent? Wine has 12-13 per cent alcohol but there are no extra restrictions on its service.”
“The ban on the sale of shots and doubles is also very likely to halt the sale of neat premium spirits such as brandy and whiskey. Why would a venue take the risk to its license that those drinks will not be consumed rapidly? It doesn’t say much for Sydney’s image as an international city if an adult cannot have a cocktail unless it is on a list.”
Riden said that if the drinks ban is applied, it should be on the same basis as restrictions on serving alcohol in glasses or extra RSA marshals, which are only for venues picked out by the liquor regulator as having a problem.
“There will be a midnight swill to match the six o’clock swill of the fifties and sixties as people who prefer spirits order their drinks before the midnight restrictions begin,” Riden said.
The Australian Hotels Association (NSW) joined in condemning the application of the measures to all venues regardless of their compliance record.
“Venues are already working closely with police and the community on targeting those thugs doing the wrong thing – that’s why assault levels in and around licensed premises are at their lowest levels since the 1990s,” said AHA NSW director of policing John Green.
“When is enough enough? All businesses need certainty, but unfortunately every other month new restrictions are being imposed on licensed premises which have no record of violence,” he said.
Green said he hoped the new Government would properly evaluate the effectiveness of the additional measures and the impact on business.
“Not just raw crime statistics that don’t show the accompanying reduction in patron numbers, such as happened in Newcastle, or the usual anecdotes from ‘experts’ with a vested interest,” he said.
Further detail on the Sydney Plan of Management is available here.