By Sacha Delfosse

The NSW Small Bar Association has hit back at bizarre claims by state hospitality minister, George Souris that small bars are to blame for violence in Sydney's troubled Kings Cross area.

Despite the fact that only a handful of Sydney's small bars are located in Kings Cross, Souris yesterday said they are responsible for some of the alcohol-related violence.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald that small bars have "a lower level of surveillance, a lower level of supervision, a lower level of compliance".

"For some reason the bigger venues that also have gambling associated with them are better policed, better supervised that those smaller venues," Souris said.

While sharing his condolences with the family of teenager Thomas Kelly, who was fatally assaulted in Kings Cross earlier this month, NSW Small Bar Association president, Martin O'Sullivan, said "it would be remiss of us not to go on the record and say how disappointed we are in Minister George Souris' comments".

O'Sullivan said Souris is "politicising Thomas Kelly's death to push what would appear to be his political alliances' interests".

"It's well accepted within the community that small bars have been a catalyst for positive change in NSW.  For example there… [has] never been a single small bar on the three strikes disciplinary scheme introduced by the OLGR."

"Minister Souris knows that out of the 197 licensed premises in Kings Cross, only three are small bars, of which the total combined capacity is 170 people all closing at midnight."

O'Sullivan's response follows comments last week by AHA NSW boss Paul Nicolaou that licensed premises cannot be held responsible for violence in the area.

O'Sullivan said small bar operators understood their responsibilities and the nature of the industry they work in, and asserted that they are in a better position due to their size to effectively administer RSA policies.

"Small bars have higher levels of surveillance, higher levels of supervision and higher levels of compliance. They can do this simply because they are smaller.

"Unfortunately, by attempting to shift the debate to small bars, Minster Souris, and his political alliances have removed the focus from the real issues.  These comments could not come at a worse time, and just reflect poor leadership."

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

Join the Conversation


  1. Why is it that when an incident such as the one with Thomas Kelly that straight away it is being blamed on alcohol.

    I don’t think there is any correlation between the accident and alcohol – yet alcohol is blamed.

    It is a very real cultural problem, and could just as easily be blamed on drugs.

  2. I don’t understand why the member for the Upper Hunter, outside of Newcastle, can’t focus on his own district rather than poison all the good work being achieved by small bars in Sydney.

    It’s unfair that those on who he tries to inflect ‘his’ policy can’t pass judgement on whether he stay’s in office at the next election.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *