New laws in Aussie state to tackle alcohol-related violence

Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, has launched tough curbs to prevent drink-fuelled violence, including forcing liquor stores to close at 10pm and imposing lockouts on nightclubs.

The measures follow a series of unprovoked alcohol-related one- punch assaults, which have led to a growing public clamour for a crackdown on excessive alcohol consumption.

As Singapore's MPs continued to debate alcohol restrictions in the wake of the Little India riot, New South Wales politicians have been considering ways to prevent serious assaults in Sydney linked to excessive alcohol and drug consumption.

The Australian response - unveiled yesterday - was received warmly by doctors and families of victims, although the bar and nightclub industry raised concerns.

The liquor shop closing time will be changed from midnight to 10pm across the state, while the new rules for nightclubs apply only to venues in Sydney's centre and to Kings Cross, a popular tourist and nightclub district.

The rules will require nightclubs to stop letting new customers in after 1.30am and to stop serving drinks after 3am. Some venues now have 24-hour licences.

In addition, there will be mandatory minimum eight-year jail sentences for those found guilty of fatal one-punch attacks. There will be a freeze on the granting of new liquor licences but hotels, restaurants and small bars will not be subject to the new curbs.

The Premier of New South Wales, Mr Barry O'Farrell, said he was "horrified" by the recent attacks and was seeking to prevent excessive drinking without penalising responsible drinkers.

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