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If I were Barry O'Farrell

Dr Ross Walker
18 February 2014

by Ross Walker

Following the recent death of Daniel Christie and the prior death of Thomas Kelly, the New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell, has introduced much tougher laws for alcohol related violence. Although I applaud the new laws and believe tougher laws were long overdue, it is my opinion these changes do not go far enough.

Firstly, there is no doubt that the problem is very much related to varying combinations of alcohol, illegal drugs (including anabolic steroids – yes, they are illegal), and let’s not forget the very legal energy drinks.

Secondly, focusing just on alcohol for the moment, the excessive availability and relative lack of expense means that many people (not just those that demonstrate aggressive, violent behaviours) are pickling not just their brains, but also the rest of their body with excessive doses of this well known cellular poison.

Mr Barry O’Farrell has introduced purely in parts of the central business district of Sydney and Kings Cross, a lockout at 1.30am and ceasing trade at 3.00am along with all bottle shops across New South Wales closing at 10.00pm. He has also introduced minimum mandatory sentencing for the following offences:

  1. Fatal Coward Punch – eight years
  2. Reckless Wounding – three years
  3. Affray – 4 years
  4. Sexual Assault – five years.

He has also introduced a number of secondary reforms I will not discuss here.

Come the revolution and I am running the show (and I can reassure you this will never happen as I realise that what I am suggesting is far too draconian), the following points would be my way of dealing with increasing problems of excessive alcohol and other substance abuse:

  1. 11.00pm closure for all pubs and clubs throughout Australia, not just the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross. It is my opinion that no-one needs to be awake after midnight unless of course they are working in emergency services areas. Cultivating a regular sleep habit is extremely important for good health and I feel it is very unfortunate that, especially the younger people in society see it as their right of passage to be awake into the early hours of the morning, especially on the weekends.
  2. I would have an 8.00pm closure for all bottle shops.
  3. At age 18 I would issue every person with an alcohol licence with their photo on the licence. They would lose their licence for a designated period depending on the severity of the demeanour for varying issues such as alcohol related violence, drink driving, any admissions to hospital with an alcohol related illness, etc, etc, etc.
  4. I would double the price of alcohol for all people up to the age of 25. I make the analogy here for car insurance. Because it is clear that many of the accidents occur in people under the age of 25, then car insurance is more expensive. Why can’t we have the same philosophy for alcohol?
  5. I would stop all alcohol related advertising and any association of any alcohol related industry with sport.
  6. I would markedly increase the penalties for steroid and illegal drug use.
  7. I would ban energy drinks because I feel they are completely unnecessary.

I know that I would have enormous objections from anyone involved in the alcohol and entertainment industries, but as far as I am concerned the death of young people or the permanent disability induced from all of the above issues has gone too far.

If people (especially the younger ones) can’t responsibly consume a few drinks, which it appears many can’t, then the rules around this need to be much more rigid and draconian. Enough is enough – how many more people have to be killed or permanently maimed?


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