Minister Fails to Keep Sydney Safe

Council this week refused to revoke improvements to our late night trading planning controls after Government research confirmed assault rates are highest around places selling alcohol.

Council has a duty of care to city communities and Council supported my recommendation that we not comply with a Ministerial direction that puts vested interests ahead of the safety of our residents and venue patrons.

Council also endorsed my call for the Government and Opposition to commit to liquor licensing reform consistent with international best practice, including a permit renewal system for late night trading hours. Under such a system, there could be annual and biennial renewal and good operators could expect to have their permit renewed, while poorly managed venues would risk losing the right to trade outside core hours.

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) last week released research that showed 56 per cent of recorded assaults in Sydney occurred within 50 metres of pubs, clubs and bottle shops. The highest concentrations of assaults are in Kings Cross, Oxford Street in Darlinghurst and along George Street in the city centre. This is consistent with the City's research which found that 80 violent incidents occur in just one hour between 1am and 2am in Kings Cross.

The revoked amendments to Council's Late Night Trading Premises Development Control Plan, adopted last December, had enabled Council to consider police data and research when assessing proposals for extended trading hours.

When Council refused to revoke the amendment, the Minister himself took this action on Wednesday, overriding the concerns of the AMA, Police Association, Nurses Association, hospital emergency departments, residents and venue patrons.

Renewable liquor licensing permits are standard practice in many global cities that have thriving late night economies. Unlike NSW, where liquor licenses are granted in perpetuity, liquor licenses in New York, Amsterdam, Paris, Glasgow and Edinburgh must be renewed every one to two years. Queensland introduced a permit system for extended late night trading hours in 2009.

Council's work to diversify the late night economy is being accelerated. We want everyone to be able to enjoy Sydney late at night; with a wider choice of options including galleries, cafes, theatres and shops, without having to experience violent, anti social behaviour and excessive drinking.

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