Dangerous brawls in Sydney’s inner-city overnight demonstrate the importance of upgrading licensing laws, the New South Wales Opposition says.
Police say several arrests were made overnight as officers dealt with two brawls that broke out within minutes of each other.
The larger of the incidents, in Haymarket, escalated as people tried to intervene in a bashing.
There were several arrests and at least one man received head injuries.
The other brawl in Martin Place involved up to seven men.
The violence comes as the Opposition accuses the Government of dragging its feet on liquor licensing reform, following revelations it has been sitting on a plan for 16 months.
An email leaked to the ABC reveals State Cabinet gave in principle approval for tough new liquor licensing laws in September 2012.
Under the system, which is being considered by the Government again, venues deemed at a higher risk would pay a bigger fee based on their location, trading hours, capacity and compliance with the Liquor Act.
Venues currently only pay a one-off licensing fee, regardless of how they are managed, leaving taxpayers to foot much of the bill for the state’s liquor regulation and compliance scheme.
Government ‘in the pocket of liquor lobby’
Labor health spokesman Andrew McDonald says the Government has fallen short of its responsibilities.
“For 16 months that report sat on [Premier] Barry O’Farrell’s desk, unknown to anybody,” he said.
“How many deaths, how many tragedies, how much heartache could have been prevented if Barry O’Farrell had even revealed the existence of that report 16 months ago?”
He says the Government has been influenced by alcohol industry lobbyists.
“They have done nothing for one reason only: this Government is in the pocket of the liquor lobby,” he said.
“There is serious amounts of profit to be made by the liquor lobby [and] there is serious amounts of money being given to the Liberal party.”
Hospitality Minister George Souris says the “periodic risk-based licensing scheme” is contained in a “package of measures to address drug and alcohol-fuelled violence [that will] go to Cabinet on Monday”.
Mr O’Farrell has promised to deliver a plan to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence next week.