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No alcohol-fueled strife at St Pat's for years

Saturday, 8th August, 2009

By Stefan Delatovic

All the fuss over the St Patrick's race meeting's liquor licence seems misplaced, with a new report showing that it has been a quiet affair for at least six years.

No full strength beer or spirits were served at the 2009 meeting, owing to an agreement between the race club and the police licencing officer. Margaret Lesjak from the Broken Hill Centre for Remote Health Research has written a report "A day at the races: does alcohol strength make a difference?" It was published online by the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health this week. Ms Lesjak said she had written the report in response to patrons' complaints being aired in the media, and she had wanted to see whether the lack of full-strength beer had made any appreciable difference. The report uses data collected by police, health and race security to show how many alcohol-related incidents were recorded. It compares every race meeting held since 2004. The report shows that the races led to no alcohol-related incidents being recorded by police, health or bar staff in 2009. Ms Lesjak said that it was hard to draw a conclusion from that result, though, owing to the low number of incidents recorded overall. The police, for example, have only recorded two alcohol-related incidents stemming from St Pat's in the last six years - one in 2004 and five in 2005. In comparison, police recorded 13 alcohol-related incidents over the 2009 race weekend that were not linked to the event. Ms Lesjak said that, in compiling the report, she wanted to incorporate all the sources of information, and noted that it represented only those incidents serious enough to have been reported. "I didn't know what I might find or how big the issue might be," she said. "Obviously there has been quite a bit working (for St Pat's) as it's been very quiet in the last six years." While safety was on the minds of police and health professionals, Ms Lesjak said punters were concerned with the taste, and often preferred full strength beer for that reason alone. The St Pat's Race Club has recently announced that full-strength beer will be returning to next year's race meeting, although its supply will be limited.

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