Oddly Enough

Tough new alcohol laws to stop Sydney violence

SYDNEY (Reuters) - In an effort to stem a wave of alcohol-related violence on Sydney’s streets, authorities will no longer issue 24-hour liquor licenses and 50 pubs and clubs will be forced to lock-out patrons and serve drinks plastic glasses.

Sydney has seen a spate of “glassings” in recent weeks, where drinkers, male and female, have been smashed in the face with a beer glass, and street brawls which have left police injured.

Authorities say a culture of binge drinking by young men and women is behind the rise in violence.

Australia’s most populous state New South Wales, which includes Sydney the nation’s biggest city, recorded 21,000 incidents of alcohol-related violence in the past year, with the rate of violent incidents rising seven percent annually.

In announcing the new alcohol laws in Thursday, NSW Premier Nathan Rees said “the people of NSW have had enough of it.”

Rees said the new laws were not aimed at “ending the good times,” but “stopping drunken behaviour that ends in violence.”

“We’re serious about tackling alcohol-related violence and will do whatever it takes to make our streets safer. There’s nothing more gutless than sticking a glass in someone’s face,” Rees told reporters.

New liquor licences will only allow an upper limit of 18 hours trading. While 50 pubs and clubs in Sydney and around NSW will be forced to “lock-out” new patrons after 2am, use plastic cups after midnight, restrict drinks bought after midnight, and close alcohol service 30 minutes before closing time.

Sixteen pubs in Sydney’s central business district and eastern suburbs are affected, including tourist havens like the Orient Hotel in the Rocks, Scruffy Murphy’s on George Street and the Coogee Bay and Bondi hotels.

Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by David Fox