Clover Moore: My question is directed to the Premier. Following representations from the City of Sydney about the strong evidence of saturation of liquor licences and high levels of alcohol-related violence in Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross, Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, and George Street in the city, what action will the Premier take to reduce alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour in these city areas?
Premier Nathan Rees: I thank the member for Sydney for her question and her very constructive approach to a serious issue.
Last month the member raised a number of issues with me about areas in the Sydney local government area, which she administers, which have what she termed saturation of licensed premises—some 1,900 premises across the area, of which 345 are clubs. What does it mean? It means that alcohol-related violence in that area is four times the State average, so this is clearly an issue. On that basis the member and I will co-chair a task force that will comprise representatives of key government agencies, such as the Department of Gaming and Racing and the Department of Health, as well as representatives from the Australian Hotels Association, the Restaurant and Caterers Association and Clubs New South Wales. We are doing this to drive down alcohol-related violence and improve amenity in and around three key areas: Kings Cross, the southern end of George Street and Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.
The first meeting of the task force was held this morning. It went pretty smoothly and, although there is plenty of work ahead, arising from our deliberations agreement was reached on one critical measure: a 12-month freeze on new alcohol licences in CBD trouble hotspots as identified by the Lord Mayor. We will take a commonsense approach to this. Applications that have already been lodged—some 33 on my understanding, with just over 20 being applications for restaurants—will be processed, as in all likelihood will applications associated with already approved development. This is a critical measure to improve amenity to ensure that city businesses continue to thrive in the CBD and that international and domestic tourists as well as locals have an opportunity to enjoy a quiet drink in a safe environment. That is what this is about. We intend to address this rate of four times the average with regard to alcohol-related violence, and we will work with police, health agencies, proprietors and anyone else interested to make sure that we continue to embed Sydney's international image as a safe place in which to have fun. I thank the member for her question and commend her constructive approach to the partnership.