Mayors back O'Farrell's pub lockout plans

NSW mayors across the political spectrum have backed the O'Farrell government's controversial plan for lockouts and alcohol curfews in central Sydney and want the harsh measures enforced at nightspots across the state.

It would mean pubs and clubs in popular late-night districts such as Wollongong, Parramatta and Byron Bay would bar entry to new patrons after 1.30am and stop serving alcohol at 3am. New licensed venues would also be banned.

MPs have been recalled from their summer break to consider the proposed laws in Parliament on Thursday.

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The licensing changes would apply to a ''Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct'' spanning Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Cockle Bay, The Rocks and Haymarket. The government would also have the power to establish new precincts in other trouble spots.

This week, Premier Barry O'Farrell warned venues across the state to address alcohol-fuelled incidents ''rather than have the government come in and do the job for them''.

Wollongong independent lord mayor Gordon Bradbery said the government should enforce the measures in his city if local police deemed it necessary.

Parramatta Liberal lord mayor John Chedid backed the changes and said the council had previously discussed earlier venue closing times with police.

''I think they are great measures and, if we can prevent some of the incidents that have occurred in recent [times], we will be doing our society a lot of good,'' he said.

''People should be able to have a good time up to 1 o'clock in the morning … I don't see the need for people to continue to consume more alcohol after that.''

Byron Shire Greens mayor Simon Richardson said the area had a ''significant'' problem with alcohol-fuelled violence and the freeze on new liquor licences should be extended to his shire. He plans to seek support from other councils for an extension of the reforms to regional NSW, including late-night transport funding.

''There is absolutely zero public transport late at night other than very expensive taxis,'' he said. ''[The council will] implore the state government to ensure … the whole of the state is considered, not just Sydney.''

Australian Medical Association NSW has identified Bondi, Coogee and Liverpool as suburbs where the laws should also apply.

Meanwhile, Tweed Nationals MP Geoff Provest said drinkers in his electorate could easily circumvent new 10pm bottle shop closing times in NSW by buying liquor in Queensland.

''Patrons can just wander across the road [to Coolangatta], buy the alcohol and wander back again,'' he said, calling on his government to seek a formal cross-border agreement to address alcohol issues.

Mr Provest predicted ''a similar thing will occur'' in central Sydney, where it is feared patrons will migrate to venues outside the new precinct to continue drinking.

Liquor authorities have refused to confirm exactly where the precinct's boundaries will fall and how many venues are affected.

Opposition Leader John Robertson said the lack of detail was ''more evidence that this was an announcement cobbled together on the run''.

''While I welcomed an announcement from the government after months of inaction … if the Premier can't answer simple questions about his policy, how can we expect it to work?''

A spokesman for Mr O'Farrell declined to comment.

SMH.COM.AU

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