NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s announcement of lockouts and a freeze on new liquor licences has prompted both applause and condemnation from the wide variety of stakeholders involved in this heated debate.
City News spoke with a number industry staff who work within the restricted zone and asked whether these laws would make a difference.
“It won’t change a thing,” said security guard Chris Zlomanczuk, who has been working as a guard for many years, including two within the heart of Kings Cross.
“I have seen it all and the problem comes from the outsiders. Kings Cross is a great place. The locals are great and everyone looks after each other. It is the people who come from out of the area who are causing the issues”.
In 2011, Mr Zlomanczuk was himself a victim of a “king hit” outside the club where he was working.
“I was hit from the side so didn’t see it coming. I was out for 20 seconds after hitting the concrete and this was at 3:32am.”
Mr Zlomanczuk argues the 3am curfew will only put the punters out on the streets all at the same time. A fellow Kings Cross security guard, who did not wish to be identified for fear of jeopardising his employment, agreed.
“What we will see is a spike in incidents occurring from 3:01am onwards,” the guard said.
Daniel Smith, who manages a number of venues in the Cross, encouraged policy-makers to show up at these so-called ‘trouble times’.
“My issues are that the politicians aren’t in these areas at the designated times and don’t know what happens,” he said.
“No club is staying open to serve soft drink so no matter what the license, everyone will be pushed out onto the streets at 3am.
“What we will see are venue promotions such as happy hours at 1am to encourage the patrons to stay in their establishments. We inadvertently encourage the drinking to draw the business.”
Mr Smith told City News that venues around the city have always followed the rules and are still being punished.
“It’s hard yakka working in the Cross,” he said.
Bar manager Michael Kellaway said he is more concerned about local communities than the venues.
“Kicking people out of licensed venues who have security in place…will only shift the problem to the streets where there are fewer people to control the situation,” he said.
Mr Smith, Mr Kellaway, and the security guards all expressed discomfort about the shortening of club hours.
“This means myself and hospitality staff are being punished by losing out on our work hours. And we haven’t done anything wrong. We are just trying to earn a living,” Mr Zlomanczuk said.
Local DJ Sasha Skalrud says his business will also suffer as a result of the few “cowards” who perpetrate alcohol-related violence.
“Why do the nightclub owners, licensees, security guards, bar staff, promoters, 7/11s and local eateries of the 2011 postcode have to suffer because of the actions of a very few?” he asked.
“Why should we be sent broke because policy makers and police are unable to do their job and contain the Kings Cross area?”