Ballina MP and Minister for the North Coast, Don Page
Ballina MP and Minister for the North Coast, Don Page

Page to pubs: Act, or the government will act for you

BYRON Bay's 71 licensed premises have been warned the State Government will step in if they do not solve the town's problem with alcohol-fuelled violence.

Ballina MP and Minister for the North Coast, Don Page, has told ABC Radio the Byron Bay Liquor Accord should consider introducing reforms similar to those introduced to tackle violence at Newcastle.

Newcastle's reforms included measures such as increasing lock-outs and reducing trading hours.

At present, Mr Page said a total 25 licensed premises at Byron Bay had permits for extended trading hours.

Mr Page's comments follow a call for similar measures from Canberra-based Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

In a letter to The Northern Star, foundation chief executive Michael Thorn said Newcastle had a 35% fall in assaults over three years and a 26% fall in Emergency Department admissions after the introduction of tighter controls.

He said the tighter measures were supported by 80% of Newcastle residents.

The comments also follow a claim by Tweed-Byron police crime manager Acting Inspector Saul Wiseman that drunken violence at Byron Bay was now as bad as the worst parts of Sydney.

"Police are getting assaulted, people going out for a drink are getting assaulted. It's all alcohol related, there's antisocial behaviour everywhere. People fighting, urinating and defecating in the street, it's all happening," he said.

Mr Page conceded the State Government was unable to withdraw licences from traders, but said the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority would be able to step in and enforce its own restrictions if the pubs and clubs didn't lift their game.

The Northern Star has today reported four venues, Cocomangas, Aquarius Backpackers, Cheeky Monkeys Bar and Restaurant, and Woody's Surf Shack, have already been issued with "show cause" notices over promotions that appeared to encourage alcohol abuse.

Mr Page said the State Government would prefer the pubs act to curb the violence before authoritiesz had to do it for them.

"It's within the powers of the Independent Regulatory Authority, if they're presented with evidence - and there's a fair bit of evidence floating around in Byron Bay of alcohol-fuelled assaults, particularly in Jonson Street, they would be in a position to make certain rules in relation to lock-outs and closing times," Mr Page told the ABC.

"But we prefer that the local community have the opportunity to address these issues up-front."



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