Tough new laws make pubs safer
That is what the new licensee at the Ballina Hotel, Cameron Nealer, hopes will be the result of the biggest shake-up of the State's liquor laws in 25 years.
Yesterday, Mr Nealer and about 300 other licensees, police, councils and community members converged on the Ballina RSL Club for one of 16 Liquor Law forums being held around NSW to inform people about the changes.
The new laws, to be introduced on July 1, will give the director of Liquor and Gaming more power to deal with irresponsible licensees and unruly patrons in a bid to reduce binge drinking and the number of alcohol-related assaults.
Alcohol promotions can be restricted, curfews made earlier, strong drinks banned, and the community will have more say on the development of new licensed venues.
"It's acknowledged that alcohol-related violence and assaults are an issue in our area, like they are in most places, and the changes should make a big difference to that," Mr Nealer said.
He was yet to discuss the new laws with the other members of the Ballina Liquor Accord, but said overall it was a move in the right direction.
He was particularly pleased with the change that meant a patron could be banned from all licensed venues in the one liquor accord area if they misbehaved.
"It will help the licensees work together better, to the benefit of all," he said.
"If you kick someone out of one pub, you'll let the others know about it straight away so the troublemaker doesn't just walk down the street and get into trouble in another venue."
Michael Foggo, commissioner of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, said the new liquor laws would increase protection for communities from alcohol-related, antisocial behaviour and violence.
"Society is becoming increasingly concerned about antisocial behaviour and neighbourhood disturbances. We need to have an effective system to deal with that," Mr Foggo said.
"This new system allows us to work more closely with local councils and police, whereas the old legislation stifled that."
The director of Liquor and Gaming, Albert Gardner, will have expanded powers under the new liquor laws. "In problem areas I will be able to declare lockouts/curfews to reduce patron migration and anti-social behaviour, and ban irresponsible liquor products and promotions," he said.
But patrons need to take more responsibility.
"The partiers, particularly those in the 18-to-24 group, need to realise they can't just go out and get drunk and cause trouble," he said.