Physicians urge decision makers to maintain Sydney’s last drinks laws

19 June 2019

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has delivered a submission to the Sydney’s Night-Time Economy Inquiry, urging the NSW Parliament to maintain the trading conditions that have reduced alcohol related harm in Sydney.

Physicians are also encouraging a discussion about initiatives going beyond these restrictions that relate only to pubs and clubs.

Professor Paul Haber, RACP drug and alcohol expert, said “The evidence is clear that restrictions on trading times and the service of alcohol directly reduce incidence of alcohol related harm and violence in the community.

“The health of the community must be top of mind in any policy changes that the Government considers.”

In Kings Cross, there has been a 61 percent reduction in alcohol-related non-domestic assaults in the five years since the introduction of the measures.

“While alcohol related violence in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross has been drastically reduced – now is not the time for complacency. Instead, we should be talking about more ways we can strengthen our laws to protect the community from other forms of alcohol related harm.

“In the case of the NSW Government, these should include adding outlet density as a consideration in future liquor licensing laws, the introduction of a minimum floor price for alcohol and the urgent implementation of an NSW alcohol and other drugs strategy.

“We know that the rates of alcohol consumption in Australia are contributing to a significant disease burden for individuals and our health services.

“Alcohol use contributes to the burden of 30 diseases and injuries including alcohol use disorders, eight types of cancer, chronic liver disease and 12 types of injury, predominantly road traffic injuries, suicide and self-inflicted injuries.1

“Alcohol is also responsible for 8.1 per cent of the Indigenous health gap2 and in 2011 Indigenous Australians experienced rates of alcohol-related disease burden at 3.1 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.3

“We believe that the broader public debate raised by the Inquiry offers an important opportunity to rethink how we as a community can further reduce alcohol-related harm in NSW and across Australia.”

“For example, setting a floor price on alcohol reduces the availability of cheap alcohol, decreasing alcohol consumption and problematic drinking patterns.”

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