By Andrew Starke
Local candidates in all electorates across NSW are being urged by the Police Association to commit to the issue of alcohol-related violence by supporting its Last Drinks campaign in the lead up to the state election on March 26.
The Last Drinks campaign is a coalition of emergency services workers, led by the Police Association of NSW, who say they are sick of ‘being punching bags for drunks every weekend’.
The lobby group favours tighter controls of licensing laws in hotels, pubs and clubs.
Specifically, the Police Association is calling for is a three-month trial of 3am closing times across NSW.
While Police Association representatives will be visiting their local MP or candidate to discuss ways to cut down alcohol violence in the community, supporters of the Last Drinks initiative have conceded that neither party is prepared to take on the combined weight of the hotel, club and liquor industries.
A post on the Last Drinks website from Karin Sowada states that ‘the most disappointing aspect of the state election campaign is the lack of serious interest from both sides about improving supply-side measures to control alcohol service and its drunken aftermath’.
“The NSW Police Association is a voice in the political wilderness in its attempts to focus the major political parties on this issue,” she writes. “Even the Greens are strangely silent.”
However Police Association president Scott Weber said issues with alcohol-fuelled violence could be seen all over NSW and would remain an election issue.
“Police officers in all corners of the state have to deal with drunken idiots who think it’s ok to punch an officer or an innocent bystander after they’ve had a few,” he said.
“Too often we see a night out end in bloodshed, a trip to the emergency department or a night in a police cell, and it needs to stop.
“For us it’s all about safety. Safer streets and a safer working environment for emergency service workers.”
The Police Association is advocating for restrictions be placed on licensed premises around the state, including 3am closing times, 1am lockouts and restrictions on high alcohol-content drinks and shots.
“I urge all candidates in the upcoming NSW election to get behind the Last Drinks campaign and take a stand against alcohol-fuelled violence and crime in their local community,” said Weber.
To comment to the editor, click here.