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Booze ban ignored

Friday, 15th January, 2010

* Local pubs and bottle shops will likely ignore a request from NSW police. * Local pubs and bottle shops will likely ignore a request from NSW police.

Broken Hill's pubs and bottle shops appearset to ignore a requestfrom NSW Police to limit the sale of fullstrength alcohol on Australia Day. In an effort to limit alcohol consumption and curb violent behaviour, police have written to liquor outlets across the State requesting that they adopt a range of measures for sales on January 26.

These include a ban on takeaway sales of drinks with more than four per cent alcohol content up to 2pm, and nothing greater than five per cent after 9pm. Police have also requested a ban on the sale of shots and doubles after 9pm and a limit of two drinks per person, per purchase for the last three hours of the day.

They have pointed to crime statistics to defend the initiative. In NSW last year 92 people were arrested on Australia Day and charged with 113 offences, up from 30 arrests in 2008.

But local publican and Australian Hotels Association (AHA) delegate Dean Trengove said yesterday that the initiative wasn't warranted in Broken Hill.

Mr Trengove, who is also a member of the Barrier Liquor Accord (BLA), said he would not be embracing the request which he labelled draconian. "I don't believe any of the publicans will take it on and I won't be pushing it as an AHA delegate." He said police were really trying to target the state's large entertainment districts and metropolitan centres.

But he said Broken Hill locals traditionally kept away from pubs and clubs on Australia Day. "I don't believe Australia Day is celebrated in pubs in Broken Hill as much as backyard barbecues; I think it's more of a family day. "I believe if someone is going to lunch or a barbecue, who am I to say they can't buy a bottle off wine?" Apart from obligations under the Responsible Service of Alcohol laws, local pubs and clubs already had ways to curb excessive drinking, he said.

"Many of the hotels don't serve doubles and the vast majority don't serve shots." Mr Trengove also took a swipe at NSW Police Chief Inspector Guy Haberley, who is behind the request. "I believe it's his job to be enforcing the law, not telling people what to drink." Schinella's Friendly Grocer owner, Mick Schinella, said he too would be ignoring the request. "I can't dictate to a person ‘look, you can't buy heavy beer, mate'," he said. "How are you going to (tell) who is a party-goer and who isn't?"

Barrier Local Area Command Crime Manager Supt. Nick Stoltenberg said local police would not be pushing the head-office request. Supt. Stoltenberg said police had a good relationship with local licensees who had adopted a number of strategies to deal with excessive drinking. "We're reasonably lucky out here being a small country town (and) we have a very active Barrier Liquor Accord.

"They've done some really good work and work closely with the licensing officer and police in general." A similar initiative that saw a ban on the sale of full-strength alcohol before 2pm was introduced in Wilcannia last year is due to end next month. Supt. Stoltenberg said there were no plans to introduce it to Broken Hill.

"We haven't had an instance in Broken Hill or a period where we have had to go down that path with licensed premises."

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