PUBLICANS and business owners can do nothing else to curb violence until the NSW government commits to drug testing violent revellers, Albury Liquor Accord chairman Daryl Betteridge says.
“Without drug tests, Dean Street won’t become any safer,” Cr Betteridge said.
The Albury Liquor Accord requested an Australian Hotels Association drug-testing trial in Albury more than a year ago, and Cr Betteridge said he was frustrated nothing had been done.
But the Australian Hotels Association (NSW) chief executive Sally Fielke said the trial couldn’t happen without support from the state government.
Cr Betteridge said he had seen revellers pick up rubbish bins and throw them at people outside his late night Dean Street pizza shop.
“I want to know how a guy at 70?kilograms has an alcohol reading of .02 but he fought like a thrashing machine and had the strength of three men,” Cr Betteridge said.
“I’ve seen that before, when they snap, and I don’t believe that’s the usual alcohol reaction.
“When it’s economically cheaper to take a pill or pre-load, then it’s going to be an option.”
Bended Elbow licensee Gavin Grant believed about 80?per cent of violent incidents at the Dean Street pub labelled alcohol-fuelled by police were actually drug-fuelled.
“The aggression issue is so much higher when they’re on drugs,” Mr Grant said.
“I can guarantee when people have a violent incident, you can see the difference in how quick they react and it’s not alcohol.
“They switch very quickly, alcohol is very slow, it’s a depressant drug and it takes time for them to get aggravated.”
Cr Betteridge believed as the price of alcohol goes up, drug- and alcohol-related violence would continue to be an issue on the Border.
He said the Liquor Accord wanted mandatory drug and alcohol tests to see whether violence is alcohol-fuelled or drug-fuelled, because at the moment there is no data.
Ms Fielke said venues are deemed to be violent because they serve alcohol.
But she said drugs were part of the overall problem.
She said until the NSW government commits to match the $100,000 put forward for drug tests, nothing will change.
“All the responsible serving of alcohol training is ineffective when drugs are thrown into the mix,” Ms Fielke said.
“If you’re going to arrest people for what you’re calling alcohol related violence, which puts a black mark against venues, then we’re calling for drug testing for those people.
“Constantly regulating or penalising licensees is not solving the problem.
“These kids are either coming to venues pre-fuelled or taking drugs and licensees alone cannot solve the problem.
“We need to work with police and a range of stakeholders to come up with genuine solutions.
“Let’s do this trial, let’s find out exactly what the problem is so we can find a solution.”
Mr Grant said if there was going to be change, government and police needed to acknowledge that drugs were part of the issue.
“If they have a drug problem that means they need more police and
they don’t have the resources, so let’s just keep it under cover,” Mr Grant said.