They say voluntary restrictions are just not working, and some campaigners have even called for alcohol and drug testing for people entering all high-risk licensed premises.
The latest call by the NSW police union for an earlier lockout follows a crackdown by the NSW government last week, which passed legislation restricting trading hours in Sydney’s CBD entertainment precinct.
But NSW Police Association vice-president Patrick Gooley said the trading crackdown implemented in Sydney, including 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks, should also be introduced in Byron Bay and Parramatta.
Police and Byron Bay’s liquor accord voluntarily implemented a trial of 1.30am lockouts and restrictions on alcohol sales last year, and Mr Gooley told the ABC that police had seen some ‘modest restrictions building in Byron Bay voluntarily but we think they don’t go far enough’.
‘Being voluntary, they are very difficult to enforce,’ he said.
Mr Gooley says there is a case to have the restrictions expanded.
‘If we can save one life in Byron Bay and one life in Parramatta, it’s got to be worth more than a couple of hours of late trading,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Last Drinks at 12 campaigner Tony Brown says alcohol and drug testing for those entering high-risk licensed premises should be mandatory.
Mr Brown, who was involved in a successful campaign that led to tougher trading restrictions in Newcastle resulting in a big reduction in alcohol-fuelled violence there, backed the alcohol- and drug-testing call by federal Liberal MP and former Sydney hotelier Craig Laundy.
Mr Brown said Mr Laundy’s family should be ‘recognised for their commendable efforts of voluntarily reducing late trading hours at Manly’s Steyne Hotel that has been the key factor transforming that pub into a safe and respectable establishment’.
But Mr Brown said, ‘illicit drugs and steroids still only represent a very small proportion of the problem and it is mischievous, at best, for the liquor industry and their political partners to continue to deliberately exaggerate the use of drugs to obscure this fact’.
He said, ‘it makes much more sense and saves a lot more public money to breath-test patrons before they enter a higher-risk premises than after they have assaulted and killed someone’.
‘If you can go to jail much longer for being intoxicated or drug affected, why not apply the same legal measure of “intoxication” as a precondition to enter a licensed premises and service?
‘If the owners and controllers of licensed premises knowing supply alcohol to a patron who is clearly intoxicated, then equally they must be treated by just laws as accessories to the subsequent alcohol-related crime committed and share some of the jail time.
‘The grog peddlers cannot be allowed to escape these draconian “one hat fits all” laws designed to stop alcohol-fuelled violence.
‘Liquor industry “responsibility” is as equally if not more important than “individual responsibility”, something our political leaders refuse to acknowledge.
‘Between 60 and 80 per cent of younger patrons preload on dirt-cheap alcohol from discount booze barns before they attend late-trading premises to get further drunk.
Prof Miller from Deakin University has found that preloading is the biggest predictor for alcohol-related violence.
‘While the conclusively proven Newcastle conditions have resulted in critically important cultural change of a reduction in preloading (Prof Peter Miller), breath-testing as a condition of entry would prove a profound overnight success (like the introduction of laws for mandatory seatbelts and RBT) in preventing dangerous preloading.’
Mr Brown said breath testing as a condition of entry would also be ‘a win for the licensed premises with sober patrons purchasing more alcohol from the pubs and clubs that offer the unique entertainment/music/socialisation opportunities unavailable elsewhere’.
He said ‘the independent research clearly establishes that a modest one-hour reduction in late trading will cause between a 17 and 20 per cent reduction in alcohol-related assaults with similar disproportionate savings in public costs and scarce police and health resources’.
‘Reducing late trading hours (or last drinks) is the single most effective preventive measure. The package of cost-saving preventive conditions should also include drink strengths, availability and pricing.
‘It is absolutely crazy to only apply this proven life- and cost-saving measure to just five square kilometres of NSW and ignore the remaining 809,439 square kilometres of NSW and its population.
‘Alcohol-fuelled violence and harm is just not confined the Sydney CBD.
‘Byron Bay has the third-highest rate of alcohol-related non-domestic assaults in NSW (with 3am closing) and their community and many other regional communities would welcome the same immediate life-saving benefits from a two-hour reduction in last drinks time.
‘Less than four per cent of NSW licensed premises trade after midnight.
‘The total number of premises impacted on by a sensible immediate statewide extension of a modest reduction in “last drinks” would vastly exceed any short-term dislocation, as proven in Newcastle,’ he said.