Venue owners have spoken out in response to calls for 1am lock-outs on all venues across New South Wales, and a ban on most spirits after 10pm.
Arq and Imperial owner Shadd Danesi told Sydney Star Observer he feared drinkers would relocate to people’s neighbourhoods, whereas on the entertainment strips at least security and police were around.
“You’re not going to have the 18-45 year-olds going home and taking a Bex and going to sleep — you’re going to have more house parties, illegal warehouse parties, people drinking in parks and on beaches,” Danesi said.
“Add underage drinkers to that mix where there’s no responsible service of alcohol. They’ll just drink. It’s uncontrolled, it’s unsupervised — there’s no security there.
“There are problems on our entertainment strips and we need to acknowledge that but you’re going to have those problems transferred into a wider area which the police do not have the manpower to control.
“If you look at George St, Oxford St and the Cross, we’re talking about 100,000 revellers. Those people aren’t going to stop partying.”
Danesi also feared a rise in drug overdoses if the plans were implemented.
“I’m sympathetic to the hospitals, because there’s a demand on staff and people with legitimate health problems need those beds.
“But when people are dropping from drugs like GHB in a controlled environment, at least they’re getting assistance. Remove that and put them into a house party environment where people will be reluctant to call an ambulance because they’re having a great time — who knows what the death rate could be?”
Stonewall licensee Craig Bell was concerned that people who drank to get drunk would begin drinking earlier under the proposed changes.
“It will change the going-out culture so that people begin drinking significantly earlier than they currently do,” Bell said.
“This will not make one ounce of difference to the type of person who is causing 99 percent of the problem — a person who after only a few drinks has a personality change and becomes aggressive, violent or obnoxious.”
Instead, Bell said he would like to see the focus brought back on those who were actually causing the trouble.
“I’d like to see a situation where hoteliers are given a way of keeping an account of serial troublemakers. Currently, if someone gets barred they can go to the next hotel, and the next hotel. They can be extremely antisocial and the worst that will happen is that they’ll be asked to move on by police.
“I’d like to see the reintroduction of the old Intoxicated Persons Act where people who were intoxicated in a public place and posed a risk of harming themselves or somebody else could be detained for up to eight hours or until they weren’t intoxicated any more.
“They weren’t charged so police were able to process them within minutes and able to get back on to the streets to look for the next one. That prevented troublemakers from committing offences or upsetting people to the point where they became the victims of a crime themselves.”

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