The NSW Opposition is urging the state government to adopt an eighteen-month trial of Newcastle-style lockouts in Kings Cross and the Sydney CBD.
The plan, titled ‘Drink Smart, Home Safe’, would impose measures such as 1am lockouts, 3am last drinks and restrictions on drinks with a high alcohol content (such as shots) after 10 pm in an effort to curb instances of alcohol-fuelled violence and change the drinking culture of Sydney.
The document was launched by Opposition Leader John Robertson and also urges better late-night public transport options.
“Labor will tackle this issue head on, and will be vigilant in our commitment to make Sydney’s streets safe,” Mr Robertson said.
But John Jobling, who spent decades in local government in the Hunter and is now on Leichhardt Council, said a blanket adoption of Newcastle’s alcohol policy would not be right for Sydney.
“The state government has a three strikes policy and does not believe that a total adoption of a Newcastle style policy is the way to go,” he said.
“We wouldn’t want the government to introduce a policy that affects tourism and a number of other people. But, obviously, we need to ensure that some of the problems arising from binge drinking and alcohol consumption are controlled.”
Mr Jobling stressed the importance of finding a way to change young people’s attitude toward drinking rather than putting local businesses under further pressure and additional restrictions.
“The real problem is how we stop younger people [drinking] lots of alcohol…before they go out into a licensed premise,” he said.
18-year old Thomas Kelly was killed in July 2012 when he was king-hit by fellow teenager Kieran Loveridge, who had been drinking before arriving in Kings Cross.
Alexander Enrico, a media and communications student at Sydney University, said pre-drinking is popular because it’s cheaper.
“I wouldn’t say that people rock up completely drunk, they get tipsy – to feel the alcohol in their system,” he said. “That’s the concept of pre-drinks.”
Cihan Saral, a DJ who often plays at venues in Kings Cross andthe CBD, said the restrictions would have a negative impact.
“My biggest concern is how it is going to stifle the music scene in Sydney,” he said.
“These sorts of restrictions make it a lot harder for the music scene to survive and thrive because it’s always a late night thing – especially after 1am. There are gigs that go all the way up to 5am.”
Mr Saral said the measures marginalise those who don’t conform to a working-class lifestyle.
“These are people who are just looking to have a good time but don’t conform to the working 9 to 5 lifestyle. It’s like a nocturnal lifestyle for these people and they are being marginalised.”