By Andrew Starke

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) NSW has slammed as ‘ill-conceived and naïve’ the call by Police Association president, Scott Weber, for a three-month trial of a 3am closing time Statewide prior to the next election.

“Scott Weber has shown a total lack of experience in public policy and this is nothing more than a media stunt,” said AHA (NSW) CEO, Sally Fielke.

“Everybody but Scott Weber knows that 3am is taxi changeover time. A blanket close at 3am makes his proposal a farce as there would be no taxis for people to get home in and leave thousands stranded in the streets.”

The AHA (NSW) is working with Government and local Police commanders on issues including the Government's Hassle Free Nights initiative.

“That’s why we deal with Government on these issues and not a union official pre-occupied with media stunts,” said Fielke.

She added that Scott Weber would be better off questioning why police have rejected an offer by members of the Kings Cross Liquor Accords to help fund more police on the beat as a local solution for a local problem.

“We have long advocated more high-visibility policing and more flexible police rostering as one way to counter the problem of anti-social behaviour,” said Fielke.

“There is not one simple solution to these issues, but people of goodwill need to act responsibly and not look for simplistic scapegoating as a means to an end.”

She added that the AHA (NSW) remained ready to talk to the Police Association and other stakeholders but said there would need to be a ‘commonsense basis to any such talks, minus the hotel bashing rhetoric’.

Fielke said if Scott Weber’s plan were introduced, it would cost 12,000 jobs throughout the hotel industry within months and make the problem of anti-social behaviour much worse.

“It may be good politics to pander to your members with proposals like this, but we hope Mr Weber will grow in his role as President of the Police Association to see that the real objective here is to grow NSW as a premier State and not a nanny State,” she said.

Weber singled out venues that had seen a decrease in violent assaults, such as the Coogee Bay Hotel, stating that such establishments should still be subjected to restriction despite meeting Government targets.

“This list shows that some pubs and clubs that have been subjected to restrictions have seen a decrease in the number of alcohol‐related assaults,” he said.

“However, this should not be a reason to remove the restrictions. The fact that assaults are decreasing is merely proof that the restrictions are working. Taking them away would be madness.”

Weber said last week has been a horror period for alcohol‐related violence, with one man killed after being violently assaulted, another brawl breaking out in the Sydney CBD involving more than 20 people, and a fight in the Hunter Valley where three police officers were attacked.

Another man is in a coma after a pub brawl in the Central West.

“There is still a high level of alcohol‐related violence out there on the streets, and more needs to be done to combat it,” he said. “Introducing tougher restrictions around closing times and lockouts as well as limits on the sale of shots and hard liquor would go a long way to reducing this problem even further.”

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The Shout Team

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

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