O'Farrell to act on alcohol-fuelled violence

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell. Picture: BEN RUSHTON
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell. Picture: BEN RUSHTON

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has promised a four-pronged response to rising concern over alcohol-related violence in a bid to relieve some of the pressure building on the government after high-profile assaults during the summer break.

During a media conference on his first day back at work, the Premier said a package of reforms to further address drug- and alcohol-related violence would be considered by cabinet on Monday before an expected announcement on Tuesday.

While he would not go into detail about what measures cabinet would consider, he said ministers had been working on their response since the release of a five-year statutory review of the Liquor Act in December.

However, he ruled out any consideration of the so-called "Newcastle model" of 1am lockouts paired with 3am closing times for licensed venues.

Mr O'Farrell said the government had already introduced measures including a "three-strikes" scheme threatening loss of licence for badly behaving venues and "move on" powers for police and a crackdown in Kings Cross.

"My message to the community is very clear," Mr O'Farrell said. "The government understands concerns about alcohol- and drug-fuelled violence, binge drinking and what's been going on in these entertainment precincts. We have acted and we are determined to continue to act."

On Monday, cabinet would consider "further measures" covering better regulation of liquor licences, penalties for those engaging in alcohol- and drug-fuelled violence and policing in and around entertainment precincts, Mr O'Farrell said.

Cabinet will also look at introducing "measures to tackle the cultural change needed to reduce the level of drug- and alcohol-fuelled violence and also binge drinking".

The government's response to the issue has been under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks after the assault on Michael McEwen, 23, in Bondi on December 14 and a fatal attack on Daniel Christie, 18, in Kings Cross on New Years Eve.

Mr Christie's funeral will be held on Friday, with Governor-General Quentin Bryce in attendance.

However, Mr O'Farrell said he would not attend.

"I don't want to do anything to inject any sense of politics into what should be an occasion for family, for friends and for those who loved Daniel Christie," he said.

Mr O'Farrell has been criticised for not issuing a message of condolence while on holiday when Mr Christie's parents turned off his life support in St Vincent's Hospital last weekend.

Instead, Attorney-General Greg Smith issued a statement on behalf of the government.

Mr O'Farrell said the government was "tailor-making solutions" to the alcohol-fuelled violence problem.

"We are seeing some progress, but clearly not enough progress," he said.

Alcohol campaigners and community groups have been calling on the government to introduce a number of measures including the lockouts and earlier closing times.

The parents of Thomas Kelly, who died in July 2012 after being punched in an unprovoked attack in Kings Cross, are calling for increased sentences for violent crimes in which alcohol and drug use are a factor.

A key recommendation of the Liquor Act review is a system of "risk based licences" for venues, whereby venues more prone to violence would pay a higher periodic fee.



Discuss "O'Farrell to act on alcohol-fuelled violence"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.