With the new ‘king-hit’ assault laws and mandatory minimum sentencing having just come into effect, many Sydneysiders are awaiting the new lockout and last drinks laws with anger and dread. Meanwhile, others are simply asking: will this even reduce the violence… or worsen it?
As a young person living in Sydney who both likes to go out late at night and hasn’t been in a fight since primary school, this new initiative seems like an infringement of my personal liberty. Once again, Sydney is being run like a nanny state where intense restrictions are applied to an entire population, the vast majority of whom are peaceful, no matter how late it is or how drunk they are.
First off, I just don’t see how these new laws are actually going to stop violence. They will introduce a 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks for licensed venues, yet there is no real connection between drinking early into the morning and violence. For instance, the manslaughter of Thomas Kelly in 2012, arguably one of the main incidents that instigated these new laws, occurred at approximately 10pm. What is the point of a 1.30am lockout if someone was killed nearly four hours prior to that?
Secondly, according to the Greens and Independent MP Alex Greenwich, “normal parliamentary process was abandoned” with the introduction of this bill so as “to prevent scrutiny of the legislation and time for debate”. While the bill did ultimately pass with support from the Opposition, it is disconcerting to think that proper democratic procedure was not followed.
Of course, the Greens have opposed these laws from the start so perhaps it’s wrong to condemn all politiciams but they all need to be asked some tough questions. Primarily, if these laws are restricted to the so-called entertainment districts of the city, won’t the violence just spread to the surrounding suburbs, the Inner West included?
The few people involved in acts of violence most likely have problems with alcohol and/or drug abuse and will find a way to get wasted regardless of laws like these. Instead of doing this in the city, they will migrate to areas like Newtown or Balmain, which could in turn become the new problem areas.
Then there’s the issue of getting home at 3am (aka taxi changeover time). If you’re lucky enough to even come across a taxi, you’re most likely going to get rejected because a fare from the city to the Inner West is too short and hardly worth the driver’s effort.
Have these issues even occurred to Barry O’Farrell?
On the other hand, I agree with the new minimum sentencing. I have always believed that people have to be responsible for themselves and by making stricter punishments for serious crimes, people will be forced to control themselves. It is an active attempt at social Darwinism by the government in my opinion, making people adhere to a socially accepted standard or go to prison for an extended period of time.
But the ultimate question still remains: why must everyone else’s good time be ruined?
Words: Max Kobras