The parliamentary committee on alcohol abuse sitting in Byron last Tuesday was subject to the usual flannel reserved by vested interests for such occasions and some hard truths from those actually dealing with the problem.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Wilkins was under the impression that there was ‘ignorance and resistance of the grog problem’ until he arrived three years ago to save the day. This attitude may account for his reluctance to endorse the Police Association’s support for Last Drinks at 12 while endorsing all the expensive infrastructure solutions that are of limited benefit.
The liquor interests were predictable in lauding the voluntary agreement they were eventually forced to adopt but were reticent in expanding on the fact that it has had little effect on the incidence of violent attacks.
The real picture was revealed by the Byron youth representatives and the emergency doctors representing Last Drinks at 12. They described an alcohol-fuelled culture ruthlessly driven by the industry and the sparse resources available to those engaged in picking up the pieces. They alone presented hard evidence of what was needed, the focus of which was that each reduction of an hour in liquor trading resulted in a 17 to 20 per cent reduction in serious assaults.
The Byron Greens, representing the majority political party in the Shire (highest primary vote and winning 12 of 15 booths at the last election), endorse the aims of Last Drinks at 12.
Tom Tabart, Convenor, Byron Greens
If the Greens (welcomely) endorse the broad community/general business base of Last Drinks at 12, who then is really backing the Green Byron shire Mayor Simon Richardson who opposes 12’s proven evidence based approach to alcohol harm prevention in Byron and enabling the local community (not the 5 late trading liquor suppliers) to determine critical licensing decisions impacting upon their families’ safety and health.
Fairy floss razzle dazzle measures such as night ambassadors, more public street urinals, concrete ping pong tables may be Sydney City Council’s intelligent response to preventing alcohol related harms in their 24/7 alcohol soaked night economy. But is it really something we want to emulate in Byron along with hundreds of police and the riot squad when simple, preventative, real cost saving measures are so readily available?