A swoop by the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) on Byron Bay venues over the Labour Day long weekend found a number of breaches, prompting one campaigner to call for an end to self-regulation of the industry.
OLGR compliance officers conducted nearly 30 inspections of Byron Bay venues over the October long weekend
It found ten breaches at five venues, including ‘permitting intoxication, failing to comply with licence conditions and failing to comply with primary purpose requirements’.
OLGR Director of Compliance and Enforcement, Anthony Keon, described the long weekend results in Byron Bay as ‘disappointing’ adding that local venues ‘need to lift their game and ensure they comply with liquor laws or face regulatory action.’
OLGR says further inspections will follow during the busy summer period’ to ensure strict compliance.’
Newcastle-based campaigner Tony Brown, who was at the forefront of moves to create a compulsory code in that city, told Echonetdaily, ‘this clearly demonstrates that industry self-regulation has failed. It’s time for new proven cost saving effective measures, starting with a modest reduction in late trading hours.’
While recent experience in Kings Cross has led licensees there to predict the demise of the industry there, Mr Brown says that over time the Newcastle experience has seen it transform for the better.
‘In Newcastle, the reduction of trading hours since 2008 has actually resulted in 110 per cent increase in the number of licensed premises and 140 per cent increase in the number of smaller bars and licensed restaurants.
‘So contrary to the AHA’s scaremongering and hysteria that these “draconian” conditions will devastate Newcastle, it has exemplified to the rest of the country that a safer night-time economy leads to much higher diversity, a higher level of vibrancy and public safety.
‘And that has resulted in a significant number more sustainable job opportunities for young people.’
‘So Newcastle’s had a triple win: it’s been good for the industry, good for the patrons and it’s also been good for local residents and the community.’
He added that the current news coverage of venue closures in Kings Cross had created ‘a self-fulfilling prophecy’.
‘I’ve been talking to some very prominent people in Kings Cross and they’re concerned that this industry is actually talking patrons into not coming to that centre, so they’re not using the significant 30-40 per cent reduction in assaults there to attract more patrons.’
‘So the biggest group to blame for any alleged decline in business is the industry itself.’
Echonetdaily has approached the Byron Bay Liquor Accord for comment.
In September, Echonetdaily reported that late-night violence in Byron Bay remained stubbornly high, with some 260 assaults in the 12 months to June 30.