Don't Blame The Booze - The Rise Of New Drugs Is Driving The Threat On City Streets

Kings CrossThere are new regulations targeting Kings Cross and the Sydney CBD. Photo: Getty/ Lisa Maree Williams
Stuart Gregor, CEO of Liquid Ideas

This is a guest post by Stuart Gregor, CEO of Sydney marketing company Liquid Ideas. More on Stuart at the foot of the post.

I just Googled the phrase “alcohol-fuelled violence” and got 360,000 results. Yep, 360,000.

I’ve been truly gobsmacked as much by the very acts that have been perpetrated in Sydney as the hysteria and poor nomenclature used to describe them.

Unless I am out of my head on some sort of weird psychedelic substance myself, these acts are not merely alcohol-fuelled. They are fuelled by the epidemic in Sydney of amphetamines, uppers and steroids.

Nobody can go on an eight-hour drinking binge and be capable of throwing much of a punch. They are more at risk of falling in front of a cab, spewing in the very same vehicle or walking into a wall.

Acts of serious and consequential violence committed by people in the vast majority of these recent cases are thanks to the dual mechanisms of plenty of booze and a few “bumps” of whatever choice of drug keeps the perpetrator going longer.

To my eyes at least, the sheer intensity of the recent violence is proof enough that there is a lot more than bourbon and beer fuelling the fights.

It might be crystal meth, or ice. If you think this insidious drug is strictly the domain of bikers and “Westies” you’d be wrong. It is all over the inner city. Then throw in a few Red Bulls, a couple of lines of coke if you fancy, maybe a key of speed or some GHB – anything to keep you at the bar feeling good.

These drugs are everywhere. Ask your kids.

If you are a body builder, chances are you’re already on the steroids and they can make you plenty angry with a little bit of weekend help from your recreational drug of choice.

Look where this is happening. Where bars and pubs have been for the history of the city – but today where drug dealers and crooks reign supreme.

I just don’t understand why alcohol is seen by the vast majority of people as the sole problem here.

Of course I am compromised – I make wine and gin, I promote beer and all manner of drinks and just like every other purveyor of booze I want – in fact now more than ever, I need – people to consume my drinks as they always have – with some sense of personal responsibility. The vast majority of publicans, club owners and bar operators feel exactly the same.

We aren’t drinking more booze than we did a decade ago.

In fact people are drinking less, but better. That’s a good thing – at least for those of us who think a moderate drink, and maybe an occasional semi-binge, is OK for both us and society.

We love small bars and we adore a civilised drinking culture.

I’m OK with these new laws as proposed by NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, not because I want to leave bars at 1.30am (which as a 45-year-old is past my bedtime anyway), but because Sydney is not a civilised place to take a drink late at night.

It’s not Seville or Rome. It’s a city riddled with a really dreadful drug sub-culture – the cops know this, the politicians know this and it’s no surprise that the recent spate of gun crime, which is always related to the drug trade, is happening at exactly the same time as this epidemic of drug and alcohol fuelled violence.

It’s harder to crack the drug dealing code than it is to close pubs early. It’s easier to police the streets of The Rocks than it is to bust organised, trans-continental crime. In other words, it’s easier to be seen doing something than working behind the scenes trying to catch the real criminals. I get it.

Licensees who allow drugs to be dealt on or around their premises should be stripped of the privilege of having a licence and thrown in jail. Those who don’t control the consumption on their premises should likewise face serious punishment.

The fact is, a rogue publican loves a few amphetamines hanging around the pub. It means his punters stay longer and drink more. The problem is then they go out and belt someone. This is a bloody tragedy – but it’s not all the fault of booze.

* Stuart Gregor is founder and CEO of Liquid ideas, an award-winning, Sydney-based communications business specialising in lifestyle brands including plenty of alcohol companies. Clients include Carlton & United Breweries, Hardy’s Wines, Kellogg’s, Singapore Airlines and Taylors Wines. Gregor is also part-owner of gin brand Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin and Gippsland-based wine brand Dirty Three.

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