The New South Wales Parliament is being recalled next week to pass a package of tough new laws aimed at curbing the State’s recent spate of alcohol-related violence.
New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell announced on Jan 21st the introduction of lockouts for the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross, as well as an eight year mandatory minimum jail sentence for drug and alcohol caused one-punch assaults.
“I have been horrified by the continued drug and alcohol-fuelled attacks on city streets and the increase in violence used in these attacks,” Mr O’Farrell said on Jan 21.
The new measures include 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks across the CBD. A 10pm closing time will be introduced for all bottle shops and liquor stores state-wide.
The proposed new measures will be supported with free buses every ten minutes from Kings Cross to the CBD on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as community awareness and media campaigns to target the city’s binge drinking culture.
“It’s incumbent upon all of us to play our part if we are to stamp out this unacceptable behaviour and change the culture that surrounds it,” Mr O’Farrell said.
NSW Police will be granted more powers to deal with “trouble-makers”. On-the-spot fines for intoxicated behaviour while resisting police orders will rise to $1100 – an increase of more than five times – and police can now impose immediate CBD precinct bans of up to 48 hours for offenders.
“Every weekend we are forced to pick up the pieces, phone parents and even deal with becoming the victims of violence and abuse ourselves. Today’s suite of measures is a win for the community and for all police officers who protect the community,” said Police Association president Scott Weber, reported the ABC.
Maximum penalties for offences where drugs or alcohol are aggravating factors will be increased by two years. Voluntary intoxication by drugs or alcohol will also be removed as a mitigating factor when courts determine sentences.
At the same time, the maximum sentence for the illegal supply and possession of steroids is proposed to increase from 2 to 25 years.
While supportive of the new restrictions, NSW Opposition leader John Robertson says they’re still not enough. On his Facebook page he criticised the premier’s announcement, saying it lacks action in key areas by failing to increase police presence and late night train services in the CBD. He also lamented the lack of restriction on exotic shots or high alcohol content drinks.
The parents of Thomas Kelly, who was killed by a “sucker” punch in Kings Cross in 2012, said the new laws were welcome news and go “way above” what they were asking for, reported the ABC.