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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Alcohol violence easily preventable

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Tony Brown, Newcastle

Re your article, ‘Group wants Byron bars to close at midnight’, Echonetdaily August 6.

The internationally recognised key measure that resulted in unprecedented and disproportionate reductions in alcohol-related harms and costs in Newcastle associated with binge barns loading up drinkers to 5am was a very modest evidence-based reduction in late trading to 3am. By the way, the pubs themselves ultimately agreed to a 3.30am closing to settle their court appeal.

Having led and voluntarily represented around 150 community members in the above matter originated by the police, I appreciate that the local Byron community’s sensible push for ‘last drinks at 12’ (from 3am) is by far the most convincing and compelling argument to reduce the primarily preventable levels of alcohol-fuelled violence, fear and substantial health, policing and social costs.

None of the new OLGR voluntary conditions for Byron (developed with no genuine community input) can be honestly or fairly described as ‘strict’ or ‘tough’ as asserted by the Byron Bay Liquor Accord (BBLA) and OLGR. The current Byron liquor conditions, unlike Newcastle, are completely unenforceable. Secondly, unlike Newcastle they exclude any modest reduction in closing times that so effectively reduces the dangerous levels of grog supplied to BBLA’s collective patrons after midnight – to reduce intoxication (the catalyst for violence) and finally, unlike the permanent Newcastle conditions, Byron’s clayton’s conditions are being trialled during the coldest and quietest time of the year.

If the Byron liquor accord and OLGR assert the so-called ‘strict’ conditions are working, how do you explain the recent outbreak of ugly alcohol-fuelled violence in Byron and examples of ongoing non-compliance of even the ‘voluntary’ conditions by some of the five operators? – Oh I forget, ‘it was the outbreak of warm weather’ 9 July 2013 http://echonetdaily.echo.net.au/orgy-of-violence-in-byron-bay/.

I really encourage the vested interests behind the BBLA, and OLGR, to collaborate with the community as advocated recently by the honourable members of ‘12’ and give effect to the key objects of the NSW Liquor Act (currently under review) being ‘alcohol harm minimisation’ and that the outcomes (genuinely) reflect the ‘aspirations and expectations of the community’. Fast bucks from big drinking should not be acceptable in any community.


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