SYDNEY MORNING HERALD STATE POLITICAL EDITOR
Pubs and clubs in Sydney’s CBD will be forced to lock out new customers from 1.30am and cease alcohol trading by 3am under a state government crackdown on alcohol- and drug-related violence.
Premier Barry O’Farrell has also announced bottle shops will have to close their doors at 10pm.
Venues will be subject to a risk-based licensing scheme whereby higher fees will be imposed on venues that trade later, are larger or are in high risk areas, as part of a reform package announced on Tuesday.
As foreshadowed, mandatory minimum sentences of eight years in jail will apply to fatal one-punch attacks involving alcohol and drugs.
But Mr O’Farrell also announced mandatory minimum sentences would be introduced for other drug- or alcohol-fuelled offences, including reckless wounding (three years), assaulting a police officer in the execution of duty (two years), affray (four years) and sexual assault (five years).
Police will be able to test for drugs and alcohol if they suspect someone has committed an alcohol- or drug-fuelled assault.
Parliament will be brought back early next week, probably on Wednesday, to introduce the legislation required to implement the package.
Mr O’Farrell said with support of the opposition the new measures could be in place by February 1.
He said the lockouts and 3am closing would apply to venues within a new CBD entertainment precinct stretching from Kings Cross to Cockle Bay, The Rocks to Haymarket and Darlinghurst.
Restaurants and small bars and ‘‘tourism accommodation facilities’’ are exempt, as are venues at Barangaroo, including James Packer’s planned six-star hotel and casino.
‘‘This is not about trying to penalise responsible drinkers,’’ Mr O’Farrell said.
Other measures in the package include:
- Voluntary intoxication will be removed as a mitigating factor in sentencing;
- Free buses leaving every 10 minutes from Kings Cross to the CBD on Friday and Saturday nights;
- A freeze on liquor licences for new clubs and pubs (with small bars, restaurants and tourist accommodation exempted);
- Increased on the spot fines for anti-social behaviour (eg, from $150 to $500 for offensive language and from $200 to $500 for offensive behaviour);
- Increase from two years to 25 years’ maximum sentence for the illegal supply and possession of steroids;
- A ‘‘road safety-style’’ social media and advertising campaign targeted at alcohol fuelled violence;
- Reaction is being sought from the NSW branch of the Australian Hotels Association and the Last Drinks coalition of emergency services workers.