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Byron Shire
October 18, 2021

No compromise on Last Drinks at 12

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Contrary to a suggestion that Last Drinks at 12 was prepared to accept alcohol service until 2am, the community-based group is maintaining its commitment to a midnight end of alcohol service in Byron Bay.

The group continues to welcome any constructive input Byron Shire Council mayor Simon Richardson may wish to exert on the Byron Bay Liquor Accord (BBLA) and Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) to immediately introduce proven, cost-saving and enforceable alcohol harm prevention measures in Byron Bay.

Last Drinks at 12 has always remained open to collaborating with industry and government. We remain resolved to implementing the most effective package of proven evidence-based measures to achieve immediate and sustainable reductions in alcohol related harms and to preventing the increasing damage to our sensitive tourism economy.

Last Drinks at 12, however, has not reached any agreement with the Byron Shire mayor to water down its position of ceasing the supply of alcohol after midnight as reported recently in the media.

The latest information provided by the police is that the levels of alcohol-fuelled violence have again risen.

Last Drinks at 12 is committed to the implementation of the evidence-based approach to reducing the late night violence which means closing the bars earlier.

It is not our door the mayor should be knocking on to seek any real compromise.

To date, the five late-trading licensed premises have refused to accept any responsibility for some of the highest rates of alcohol-fuelled violence and other related harms in NSW.

All the blame is shifted on to patron behaviour, the weather and an influx of tourists whilst Byron Shire ratepayers are expected to pick up the tab.

At a recent meeting the BBLA refused to adopt the three voluntary measures recommended by OLGR which included closing bottle shops one hour earlier, ceasing trading an additional 15 minutes earlier than current licence conditions, and commencing the lockout at 1am rather than 1.30am.

This recalcitrance is severely tarnishing Byron’s national and international tourism reputation as a safe and inviting destination for all.

Mick O’Reagan, Last Drinks at 12


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4 COMMENTS

  1. Nice to see that the Last Drinks at 12 mob are willing to work collaboratively with the other community stakeholders to find real-world solutions to alcohol-related violence in Byron Bay rather that blindly banging away on their one-tune drum…Grog Monster, Grog Monster, Grog Monster!

    From all I’ve read about their “effective package” of measures, they have yet to explain how changing the closing times from 5am to 3am in Newcastle (a working-class city of 550,000) is guaranteed to achieve the same results by changing the closing times to 12am in a tourist town like Byron Bay! That’s like saying that an apple and an orange are going to taste the same because they’re both fruit…that’s just bananas!

    I’m no statistician or scientist, but I’d suspect that just because it worked in one place does not satisfy the criteria for being “evidence based”. They pushed the closing times later in the UK and alcohol-related violence declined as well…I guess that is evidenced based too?!?

    How about finding real-world solutions for real-world problems by working WITH the community that you claim to represent!

  2. Dear Lewis, its not so much the absolute hours per se, its the modest reduction in the dangerous oversupply, promotion and availability of alcohol – and the effective enforcement of RSA that is recognised as the r most effective and cost saving measures to reduce alcohol related harms.

    Why isn’t a modest reduction in the 3am cessation of grog supply in our 5 or 6 late trading binge barns and effective enforceable license conditions a “real world” solution? Come and visit the ED department or ride with the Cops late on a weekend night if you want to appreciate the “real” world.

    In relation to your assertions about the UK, you may find the following information of use

    ‘Statistics on Alcohol: England 2012’ confirms continuing upward admissions trend” see
    http://www.alcoholpolicy.net/2012/06/statistics-on-alcohol-england-2012-confirms-continuing-upward-admissions-trend.html

    “… In England, harm rates have increased sharply since 2004 despite a steady decline in per-capita consumption levels. And a similar pattern is emerging in Australia”. http://theconversation.com/alcohol-fuelled-violence-on-the-rise-despite-falling-consumption-9892.

    So Lewis, pray tell what are your proven evidence based solutions? More police? who pays? CCTV? who pays? more lighting? who pays? Or do we just continue to implore young impressionable drinkers to show “individual responsibility” whilst the industry with the support of the government continue to heavily promote large volumes of cheap grog to vulnerable and impressionable drinkers?

    Happy days

  3. Thanks Sarah,

    When ever a suggestion is made to reduce alcohol consumption, the gut response of many is that the recommendation must be coming from a ‘wowser’ a ‘teetotaller’ a ‘prohibitionist’ or simply someone who does not know how to enjoy themselves. This is completely natural, alcohol is involved in every celebratory occasion in our society. It immediately polarises any discussion or debate on the issue. Hopefully those who have strong gut reactions to information might ingest it first before letting it pass though with a nasty reaction

    The issue is complex, but surprisingly it has a straightforward solution
    1/ Every significant group in Byron Bay accepts that the town has an alcohol problem that causes more violence than is acceptable, together with harms such as vandalism, youth binge drinking, alcohol associated sexual assault, drink driving and presentations to hospital
    2/ Byron’s problems are part of a Nationwide and International problem where despite no increase in general alcohol consumption, alcohol related violence and other harms are increasing, especially in the 18-29 year age group
    3/ The way to fix the problem is to address the CAUSES, not to try to fix the EFFECTS the alcohol has on the town
    4/ To address the causes we need to use the best evidence of what works, and choose those that are most cost effective. Our Council has no spare money and there are few individuals or groups throwing money at the issue
    5/ The evidence of hundreds of studies, done by thousands of researchers over many decades an numerous countries is that the measures that will work are:

    -reduce the number of liquor outlets in a community
    -reduce the availability, length of time spent consuming alcohol and the supply of alcohol
    -increase the cost of alcohol either at sale of by taxation
    -reduce the mixing of ‘energy drinks’ with alcohol
    -reduce the consumption of ‘shots’ or high alcohol drinks
    -reduce the mixing of some recreational drugs ( amphetamines especially) with alcohol
    -reduce ‘pre-loading’ of alcohol prior to entering licensed premises
    -reduce the number of young drunk males
    -improve the responsible sale of alcohol, conditions venues agree on when they obtain a license
    -improving the drinking environment in venues ( lighting, atmosphere, staff, comfort, crowding, conflict resolution, reduce queues, reduce noise, clear ‘house rules’ adhered to in venues, etc)
    -better communication between police, council, hospitals and venues
    -lockouts
    -reduce advertising to children
    -random breath testing for drink driving
    -some very well organised and coordinated community approaches and education campaigns

    A seemingly long list, but those with the MOST proven, MOST powerful, LEAST costly benefits are the 2nd and 3rd on the list. Number 1 would cause significant closure of businesses. Those below are either being tried in Byron and are currently voluntary or have only minimal evidence that they will result in sufficient reductions to solve the problem. They require significant changes within venues, or in the case of taxation and advertising are outside the influence of the Byron community The current measures adopted by the Byron Liquor accord need to be compulsory to make them effective. A Precinct Liquor Accord is being considered by the State Government which would improve many of the measures listed

    So if measure 2 has been shown to reduce the problem by 17% per hour in numerous studies, and could result in a 51% reduction in Byron’s alcohol problem over 3 hours with little cost, surely it needs to be seriously considered. The measures below number 3, on evidence, when added together might result in a 10% reduction, so we should look at them, but on their own, won’t result in enough change to have our community feel we have solved the problem

  4. Our beautiful area here on the Northern Rivers is called The Rainbow Region,but I believe the rainbow is losing its colour ,awe and attractiveness to tourists .It may only be 1% of the late night partying crowd that cause problems with alcohol violence but the ripple from this causes a tidal wave thru the remainder of the community ?I am lucky that my local business (for 25 years) only indirectly benefits from tourism ,if I was a daytime or early night trader I would be speaking out loudly to the few late night traders to wake up and listen to the community .
    A few bad eggs do spoil the holiday of our tourists and word of mouth plus media attention quickly deters others from coming.Think about the long term affect on tourism and not the “quick buck” .
    Another year has passed ,Schoolies and Summer Holidays are almost here,will be interesting to see what happens to our beautiful shire .

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