Opinion: Afterdark plan risks increase in grog-fuelled CBD violence

ANOTHER ROUND: Newcastle’s police and health officials have warned against watering down the city’s alcohol restrictions … why are they being ignored?THE nearly fatal head injuries suffered by a Lake Macquarie Roosters soccer player from a recent one-punch assault (Herald, 8/5)should be a sober reminder to those with a vested interest in weakening the life-saving package of Newcastle’s modest alcohol controls.
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Newcastle Council, the AHA and their supporters appear selectively deaf to the dire warnings from our town’s most trusted and respected senior police, health officials, University/HMRI researchers, 400 public and private doctorsthat Newcastle still has a problem with alcohol-relatedviolence with a rate of assaults in the CBD nearly 10times the NSW average.

These representatives rightly assert that reducing these unacceptable levels of alcohol-fuelled harms must be our collectiveNo.1 priority.

Why can’t those demanding a weakening in controls handle this inconvenient truth?

In my opinion, council’s proposed glossy Afterdark strategy is a nightmare.

I believe itpromotes longer and stronger drinking, a further increase in outlet density (a known predictor of alcohol harms) and the generation of more unacceptable noise and anti-social disturbances.

The council also appears to have failed to inform the Horton review that it has a pecuniary interest ina CBD pub –the Queens Wharf Brewery –from whichit receives rent as landlord.

The review inexplicablypreferred submissions from the council and the alcohol industry as well asa misleading change苏州模特佳丽招聘 on-line petition, over those of our above most trusted experts and a Hunter New England Healthsurvey of real community sentiment.

Short memories also extend to the new tourism boss pedalling the nonsensical alcohol industry line that the decade long variation in closing/lockout times and modest drink controls confuses patrons to anextent justifying weakening alcohol controls.

This is another example of vested interests king-hitting the golden goose.

It is precisely the integral package of conditions and reduced violence and crime that is the key contributor to the renaissance of our CBD, live music and 110 per cent increase in a diverse range of licensed restaurants, smaller bars.

The council’s Afterdark strategy and complex model to ‘incentivise’ all outlets with exemptions to sell more grog risks becoming a literal ‘overkill’.

Council appears to have abandoned the interests, safety and amenityof current and future inner-city families.

They take no account of the likely increase in offensive loud noise and conduct of highly intoxicated patrons migrating between more later trading licensed premises.

Council failedto enforce DA noise conditions against the Brewery.

Residents cannot expect any improvement in council’s double standard approach to enforcement and compliance given its placation of dominant alcohol industry interests.

The Newcastle community expects fair, impartial, inclusive and transparent civic leadership – supported by a strong and open governance process.

Inner-city residents and families have demonstrated their accommodation of reasonable change.

They don’t want a council that surrounds itself with advisors from only those who financially benefit from its untested alcohol harm preventionpolicies.

Tony Brown is avoluntary community advocate evidence based alcohol harm prevention

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