The New South Wales Government will shut bars at 3am, introduce 1.30am lockouts, ban bottleshop sales after 10pm and impose tougher sentences for assault convictions under a suite of changes aimed at making Sydney’s streets safer at night.
There have been concerns that high levels of alcohol consumption outside of licensed premises – especially “pre-loading”, or drinking excessively at home before hitting the streets – have been connected to violent assaults.
Two young men, Daniel Christie and Thomas Kelly, have died in recent months from so-called “coward punch” attacks in Kings Cross. Their alleged assailants had been drinking at home beforehand.
The areas covered by the changes to the licensing laws include King St Wharf and Kings Cross. Bottle shops and off-license bar sales will also end across NSW after 10pm with NSW Premier O’Farrell saying at his press conference today that research suggests 80% of drinking occurs from off-licence sales.
There will also be 1.30am lockouts of licensed premises in Sydney’s CBD, but the western side of Darling Harbour, including the Star casino, are excluded. Also excluded are small bars catering for less than 60 people and five-star hotels in the city. Bars, some of which can stay open 24 hours in Sydney, will shut at 3am.
Mr O’Farrell said police will be “empowered” to drug and alcohol test people on the street.
A 25-year maximum sentence will be imposed for offenders under one-punch laws with a mandatory minimum of eight years.
There will be an increase in penalties for possession or illegal use of steroids, and increased police powers for bans on individuals in the nominated areas.
Free buses will be provided every 10 minutes to transport people away from Kings Cross on Friday and Saturday nights.
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