Holding the NSW top job for a week, acting Premier Troy Grant has opened the door for reform to Sydney’s lockout and the State’s “unjustified” 10pm bottle shop closure laws.
The review by former High Court judge Ian Callinan into the NSW laws around lockouts in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross and State-wide 10pm closure of bottle shops is expected to be handed in down during August.
Mike Baird is currently in the Northern Territory campaigning for sick indigenous children, and Deputy Premier Troy Grant has faced questions regarding the Government’s likely response to the review’s recommendations. Despite Baird’s personal prior statement it would take a lot for him to agree to lightening the restrictions, Grant appears more flexible and revealed party interest in how the bottle shop laws affect rural areas.
“If Callinan recommends pushing the lockouts back, I think it’s something we absolutely should do. If you’re trying to control the quantity of alcohol people consume … last drinks is most effective.
“Every bit of evidence I’ve seen or heard about, even in my previous experience with liquor accord arrangements, it’s not the lockouts that have the greatest impact, it’s the last drinks,” said Grant.
The Deputy Premier is also the leader of the National party, and says takeaway liquor sales ceasing at 10pm has had a significant impact on the lives of late-working rural residents as well as the local hotels. He says it remains “hard to see where the justification was for the 10pm bottle shop closures in the first place.”
The AHA NSW welcomes the announcement and awaits the reviews findings, labelling the blanket measures “poor policy” and similarly questioning the logic behind the State-wide bottle shop laws brought in by former Premier Barry O’Farrell.
“There was never an explanation why this state-wide measure was included in the legislation in the first place,” says AHA NSW director of liquor & gaming, John Green.
“We particularly can’t work out why country and regional pubs have been caught up in this Sydney-centric legislation. The bush pub has been hurt particularly hard by the banning of over the counter take-away sales after 10pm.”
Meanwhile, the Premier has faced increasing criticism of his ‘Captain’s call’ eradication of the NSW greyhound industry, particularly as details have emerged that question some of the findings of the Special Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Michael McHugh.
It appears at least some of the ‘evidence’ in the report was based on extrapolated figures of dog breeding numbers compared to registrations and information relating to a breeder far from NSW, in America. Appearing on 2GB Radio, Baird refused to back down when estimates and conclusions were called in question around so-called “wastage” and the number of breeders participating in live baiting.
“[McHugh] has weighed up all of the evidence and he has made an assessment that it is 10-20 per cent,” the Premier stated. “What we have seen is just horrendous.
“When a government of any political persuasion is presented with the findings that Justice McHugh brought down, I think you would be turning a blind eye to the most significant animal welfare challenges, the most horrendous animal welfare situation that you could imagine … we have acted because it is the right thing to do.”
While Casino Mike makes no apology for shutting down the dog-racing industry in response to the review of an appointed former Justice, he has thus far failed to explain why he would not take his foot off the throat of another industry if a similar review suggested he should.
Greyhound racing will be outlawed in NSW from 1 July, 2017 – although an exemption may yet materialise for Star City.