Refreshingly, Cr Amanda Duncan Strelec has weighed in to the issue of late night violence on Dean Street with one of the more sensible suggestions I have heard on the debate.
She has suggested a voluntary, across the board one or two am lock out be adopted by licenced venues and a reduction in trading hours ” to try to discourage the binge-drinking culture that’s developing in Australia”.
While I’d balk at the suggestion the move would “eradicate” loutish behaviour, I think it’s fairly obvious that the community would see a decrease in late night violence sufficiently significant to make the move worthwhile.
Cr Duncan Strelec also said reduced trading hours would benefit police, freeing up more resources for beat patrols that could end at 2am or 3am rather than all night.
The problems as I see them with regard to this proposal are;
1. The voluntary nature of the proposal, as it stands there really is no obligation on the part of liquor licencees to come on board.
2. As we’ve seen in Melbourne, licencing lock-outs only seem to be effective when they are uniformly maintained. Exemptions make the system unworkable.
However, NSW legislation changes on July 1 will see new powers granted to the Director of Liquor and Gaming.
The laws will allow lock-outs and curfews to be imposed on individual licensees, as well as on whole local areas, without drawn-out court proceedings.
This may well be the leverage that is needed to ensure that liquor licencees in Albury adhere to a voluntary system, if they don’t adhere to a voluntary 2am lock-out for instance, they can be slugged with a mandatory 1am lock out.