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Byron Shire
March 28, 2023

Powerful grog lobby’s strong hold over politics

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Former ALP premier Rees attributes his dethronement for taking on the Obeid faction. One of his key initiatives was the introduction of the ‘most violent licensed  premises’ list.

Barry O’Farrell exhibited unprecedented statesmanship by spreading the impressive Newcastle alcohol-control measures to Sydney CBD and Kings Cross much to the chagrin of the powerful AHA, hell bent on denying and dismantling proven alcohol harm minimisation measures that have prevented the deaths of and critical injuries to many of our younger generation (de With 16/4 ‘Reasons behind Newcastle nightlife assault drop hidden by statistics’).

O’Farrell has taken the honourable exit path unlike all other recent suspects exposed by the ICAC with similar memory losses.

We are very concerned that his obedient replacement, fearful of similar retribution, will capitulate to the powerful liquor cronies and undo all the recent positive life and cost saving work included our own world class ‘Newcastle conditions’ that has resulted in more licensed premises in a much popular, safer and more diverse night economy.

Pub profits will once again prevail over public and police safety.

Newcastle can proudly regain its place as the most alcohol fuelled violent (‘vibrant’) night spot in NSW.

Tony Brown, Newcastle

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  1. Tony, I struggle to understand most of what you write.

    Are you really suggesting that a liquor lobby group has brought down two premiers?

    Your fanciful, sensationalist and prohibitionist commentary does not remotely represent a sensible middle ground. Nor does it foster any ideas of working as a whole to remedy problems.

    If you are going to continue to lobby for your agenda please offer rational discourse. It is likely to work better than loud provoking catch cries.

    Your sloganeering did attract people to think about the violence in our communities, but I think ridiculous conspiracy theories like this and your absolutism are not qualities that many see as progressive or uniting.

    To everyone else concerned, lets work at it together. I would think that the venues want a safe environment (inside and out) and I can imagine most of us that are concerned visit venues from time to time to enjoy entertainment and other peoples company.

    We should not let this important issue be hijacked by the lunatic fringe.

  2. I’m sure Tony, who has been at the heart of the alcohol problem in NSW for a decade or so has been made aware of dirty deals and underhand lobbying of our politicians. There’s a lot of money in alcohol which is bound to result in desperate measures when that income is threatened. Whether this is fact or fiction is not something most of us want to get involved with. The issue for us is how to deal with our town being the most likely place to be bashed in NSW. How to avoid seeing Byron’s CBD turning into an ugly extension of the worst of The Gold Coast, Kings Cross or ‘The Valley’ in Brisbane after midnight. There is nothing in the NSW Liquor act that allows a concerned community to wind back liquor licenses when they have a significantly negative impact on their town. The media, king hits and deaths have gone a long way to make the public sit up and take notice of the problem. It motivated Barry O’Farrell to make changes and has brought about a small reduction in alcohol harm across the board in the State. We in Byron need to maintain our momentum and determination of discussing the issue as it affects our town and our young people. Slowly we will be able to have all see that it is worth making a stand and saying to the NSW government that we want less alcohol around

  3. I believe Tony Brown’s fears are well-founded. I remember very well the swift retribution when Rees brought in the Most Violent list and associated curfews and other penalties. Keneally watered those down almost immediately after Rees was ousted and Keneally installed as premier.

    As someone who lives near Kings Cross and seen the horrors many on weekends of fights, vomit, broken bottles scattered everywhere, the Cross now seems like another world with the reforms O’Farrell brought in. The grog industry has a strong voice in the Liberal Party, and I truly worry they will win yet again now that he is gone.

  4. The Rees liquor reforms were watered down after he lost the leadership. The concern is that with this recent change of leadership there will be a watering down of the O’Farrell liquor reforms and any hope of extending them to other areas in NSW with late trading liquor venues will be lost. There are many of us in the community who want to see an end to the serious negative impact of excessive alcohol consumption on individuals and our neighbourhoods. Tony Brown is tireless and effective in speaking out on this issue and we thank him for that.


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