I welcome the NSW Government’s announcement of a package of measures to deal with drug and alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney, but there are four extra measures that should be included.
I hope the Government’s new measures will send a clear message that drug and alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney will not be tolerated.
The City has been researching what currently happens in our late night precincts and what works in other cities. We’ve spoken to thousands of people and worked with residents, business, NSW Police, late trading venues, accommodation services, government agencies and academics.
Our research shows a need for other measures the Government should introduce as part of this package. The measures include:
- A new joint City and State Committee (similar to the CSPC* and CSTTC*) including OLGR and the Police to assess new liquor licences, extended trading hours and increased patron capacities and for that Committee to be public;
- 24 hour trains, buses and light rail on Friday and Saturday nights;
- A time limited licensing permit system to ensure that liquor licences (like a driver’s licence) are regularly renewed and not issued in perpetuity; and
- A targeted evidence based strategy to address the issue of pre-fuelling.
On city streets late at night there are tens of thousands of people yet the last train from Kings Cross leaves at 1.44am and the next is not until 5.14am. That’s when numbers of people on the street are at their peak and they’re frustrated they can’t get home easily.
The free buses out of Kings Cross are a good start but to move tens of thousands of people safely across metropolitan Sydney we need other modes of transport operating on Friday and Saturday nights.
What we don’t want to see is tens of thousands of people making their way to other areas just outside of the new precinct. There needs to be active monitoring of neighbourhoods outside the Government’s CBD precinct to ensure the problem isn’t being shifted somewhere else.
And while the new periodic risk-based licencing scheme is welcome, licenced venues in cities like New York and Vancouver operate under renewable licencing permits.
They work the same way driver’s licences are issued and that is you must renew your licence regularly. A renewable licence system puts the responsibility back on the venues to do the right thing – currently venues are given lifetime licences by the State.
There’s also a lot of confusion in the community about who is responsible for planning approvals for liquor licences and venues.
Establishing a public State and City Committee to co-ordinate assessment and decision making for licences, trading hours and requests for increased patron capacities will ensure the whole process is transparent and the public can have their say.”
I don’t think taking tough action on drug and alcohol fuelled violence needs to undermine our status as a global city. I’m calling on the Government to work with the City to develop Sydney’s reputation as a safe, late night city.
It’s why we developed our late night policy OPEN which encourages more late night options such as museums, cafes, galleries and retail stores. Activities that aren’t centred around the consumption of alcohol.
Having more options open at night creates a safer and more balanced late night economy which attracts a wider range of people into the city centre for a range of different activities – not just to get drunk.
* Central Sydney Planning Committee and Central Sydney Traffic & Transport Committee
This article first appeared on www.clovermoore.com.au on 21 January 2014.