The hotel industry isn’t too happy about the new measures introduced by the government to crackdown on alcohol fuelled violence in Sydney’s entertainment district and in particular the 3am alcohol curfew. Pubs and clubs have called the measures harsh and “radical”, fearing that the impact it will have on their businesses will be crippling.
The hotel industry has also warned that the crackdown by O’Farrell’s government would harm the “night-time economy”. Those in the legal field have also criticized the measures.
The measures were announced last Tuesday and under them dozens of late night trading venues in central Sydney will have to lock out new customers from 1:30am and will have to stop serving alcohol altogether from 3am.
According to Barry O’Farrell’s new measures, liquor license fees will be subjected to a risk based system throughout NSW and bottle stores will be forced to close by 10pm.
Perhaps one of the laws that has gotten the biggest response from the public, some against it and others praising it, is the one-punch law. This law carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 8 years jail time for fatal assaults where drugs and alcohol were a factor and the maximum penalty is 25 years jail time.
The following excerpt from an article on Smh.com.au explains more about the new measures:
Police will be given powers to test violent offenders for drugs and alcohol and intoxication will be removed as a mitigating factor in sentencing.
Legislation for the sentencing changes will be introduced next week and the government expects to have them in place by February 1. Mr O’Farrell said he hoped the new trading laws would be operating by the end of April and would be independently reviewed in two years.
”This is not about penalising responsible drinkers,” he said. ”It is about attacking the irresponsible acts of those who allow themselves to be intoxicated, whether by drugs or alcohol.”
Licensed venues are being warned that the new restrictions will be in addition to those already in place for pubs and clubs on the violent venues list or subject to the plan of management already in place in Kings Cross.
The new laws were announced after the government faced increasing pressure to act on the violence in the district following the New Year’s Eve death of 18 year old Daniel Christie. Christie, like Thomas Kelly was a young man killed in the area during a violent assault. Christie’s killer administered just a single punch but it proved fatal.
But not everyone is pleased with the new laws. The president of the NSW Bar Association, Phillip Boulten, condemned the mandatory sentencing as a “one size fits all form of justice”, which failed to take account of the circumstances of each case. He went on to explain:
”The government’s suite of practical measures aimed at reducing the availability of alcohol on our streets is the appropriate response to the problem of alcohol-related violence, rather than the knee-jerk changes to the criminal law that have been tagged on to the package,” he said.