OPINION: Band-aid for a bullet wound – addressing NSW liquor laws

A knee jerk reaction. That is what the NSW liquor laws announced today are – a knee jerk reaction to an issue that will not go away with band aids and a couple of hastily thrown together fixes.

The NSW government today announced legislation that will  enforce the following restrictions and penalties on pubs/club and patrons;

  • 1:30am lockouts and 3am last drinks
  • 8 years minimum jail for coward punches
  • On the spot fines of  over $1000 for drunk, aggressive behavior

The bill is set to be introduced to parliament on Monday, and without opposition, new laws could take effect as soon as February 1. Credit where credit is due, I am a fan of the tougher penalties for these grub acts. If anything they should be tougher.

What I am not happy with is the fact that many in the community are failing to recognise that alcohol is NOT the main culprit in these horrific attacks on young people. It certainly is a catalyst, but this is often in conjunction with two other offenders; substance abuse and a disturbing drinking culture we have adopted over time, across the entire nation.

Let’s wind the clock back 20-30 years. Back to when many of our parents where our age. People are out on a Saturday night at the local club or pub having a good time with a few drinks. The aim is not to get plastered, but to enjoy the company of your friends. Fast forward to today, and there is a disturbing trend where young people think it the social norm to go out and completely write themselves off 2-3 nights of the week.

What we lack here is education, though not a formal one per-say. This is where our elders and publicans as well as well as those in their mid-to-late 20s, with an understanding of how alcohol can be used to enjoy a social night out, can quietly pull people aside and say “You’ve had enough, time to go home”. You would be surprised how often this works.

Next is the fight culture. Let’s be honest, we are not going to stop fighting. Fighting happens. It doesn’t excuse it, but it’s there. It’s been a part of life since the beginning of history, and it will continue to be until the end of it. What needs to change is how they’re conducted. Again this is where a cultural education can come into play. Going back a few decades again, if two people had a “disagreement” they went somewhere, stood toe-to-toe, and sorted it out. If it came to blows, then once someone was down, they were down. There was not king hitting, and no group bashing. It is a gutless thing to do and should incur harsher penalties than what was legislated.

Which brings me to the lockouts. Mr. O’Farrell, having earlier lockout times will not curb this. If anything, it will make it worse. Having these people out on the street will only give them more targets for their rages, and let me point out that both the tragic deaths of Mr. Christie and Mr. Kelly occurred at around 9-10pm, hours before the proposed new lockout. Keeping these grubs inside and busy would be better and these new lockouts will not help.

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Now if we take a look at these violent offenders we would see that they fit a particular profile. Young male, muscular, 20s with a particular love of the gym and fitness, and an affinity for steroids/growth hormones and/or party drugs.

For those playing at home, these substances have been known to cause increased aggression and testosterone levels in the body, which are helpful when putting on muscle. Mix these with alcohol an you have a very volatile cocktail of roid rage waiting to go off at some poor bystander who only offence was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. More needs to be done to curb the use of these substances, whether it be regulation or harsher penalties, is to be decided.

I would like to make special mention of Mr McNeil, the man accused for Mr Christie’s death. Mr McNeil has be known to have trained in some Mixed Martial Arts (UFC fighting). People who have professionally trained are required by law to refrain from throwing punches or fighting outside of sanctioned matches unless it is a case of life or death. Breaking these restrictions can leads to life bans and procescution in extreme cases and I hope that such things are taken into consideration when legal proceedings begin.

This is not an issue we are going to solve overnight, and it will take a lot of hard work from everyone to try and educate ourselves into a better and more hospitable drinking society. And let’s remember that it is a very small minority who are causing this problems. Punishing the masses for the actions of a few can lead nowhere good.

We are on the right path. It’s just going to be a long one.

Article by SEAN GARRETT, who is sick of this bullshit.

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