Controversial one-punch laws for drunken assaults in New South Wales will be in force tonight, after the overnight passage of the legislation in State Parliament.
State Governor Marie Bashir will officially sign off on the bill today. The laws are not retrospective but will apply from tonight.
There will now be mandatory eight-year minimum prison sentences for anyone who kills someone with a single punch while drunk or on drugs.
MPs voted the legislation through both houses of Parliament yesterday after being recalled from holidays for a special sitting.
But other key elements of the State Government’s plan to combat alcohol-fuelled violence will not be activated so quickly.
A new precinct in central Sydney imposing 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks for pubs and clubs will not come into effect until late April.
The package of changes was announced by the Government early last week and has moved swiftly from proposal to passage through Parliament.
Pressure had been mounting on the Government in the wake of the death of Daniel Christie after he was punched in Kings Cross on New Year’s Eve. The 18-year-old died in hospital nearly two weeks after the attack.
Premier Barry O’Farrell will introduce other laws to address the problem when Parliament resumes again in late February.
Mandatory sentencing concerns dismissed by Premier
The Government and Opposition voted together to pass the one-punch legislation yesterday, though some Labor MPs voiced disquiet.
Mr O’Farrell has continued to defend mandatory sentencing against criticism that it does not work.
“What it’s saying to the courts is, it’s about time they started to look at themselves,” he said.
“What I am saying to those layers who are quick to criticise governments, to start to look to the judicial system to see how we can ensure that it’s in better step with community expectations about these serious violent assaults fuelled by alcohol and drugs.”
Among those to applaud the legislation is the mother of a Wollongong man who was badly injured in a one-punch assault.
Angela Cramp’s son Simon Cramp was placed on life support in June last year after being assaulted during a night out in Sydney at The Rocks.
“It’s fantastic. It’s a tremendous start to making a difference,” she said.
“If some laws that curb anti-social behaviour save 18-year-old kids being murdered at 9.30pm in Kings Cross or anywhere else, I’m all for it.”
The man charged with assaulting Simon Cramp is due to face court in June, but the new laws do not apply to his case.