Alcohol 'ruining our young'

MORE young lives will be ruined by alcohol-fuelled violence unless the NSW government stands up to the liquor lobby, the opposition has said.

Labor’s health spokesman Andrew McDonald yesterday said the worst-ever drunken violence in the state could be reduced by restricting alcohol availability.

“I have spent 40 years working in the health system and I know no one has ever seen such dreadful violence,” Dr McDonald said.

He laid the blame for the 540 people arrested at the weekend in NSW during Operation Unite, a police crackdown on alcohol-fuelled violence, at the state government’s door.

“This government does not have the guts to stand up to the liquor lobby,” Dr McDonald said.

“Until this problem is sorted, these assaults will continue and we will see innocent lives ruined.”

Labor wants 1am lockouts in the Sydney centre and Kings Cross.

Queensland recorded similar levels of violence during the annual operation, with 430 arrests and a police officer stabbed in the neck at a Townsville bar. Victoria fared better with 76 arrests.

In Sydney, a 23-year-old man remains in a critical condition in St Vincent’s Hospital after he was punched and stomped on in front of dozens of revellers at Bondi Beach early on Saturday.

He was one of several young men who were king hit over the weekend, with assaults at Darling Harbour, Kings Cross, Rozelle and the city centre.

Police said that while the number of people arrested was down on last year, the level of violence had escalated.

“That’s the effect of alcohol,” Detective Superintendent Gavin Dengate said.

“People think they’re seven-foot-tall and bullet-proof, that they can do what they want and get away with it.”

Medical staff described St Vincent’s Hospital emergency department as a “zoo” on Friday night.

“You would be mocking the anguish of our nurses or doctors if you talked about reductions in alcohol-related assaults,” hospital spokesman 

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