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  • Jul, 2012

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    Who Cares About Violence? Workers A Whole Lot More Than Politicians

    It is always a source of humor– dark humor, to be sure — that the traditional media is way, way behind the curve when it comes to understanding a story, particularly when it involves unions. So, you know how all those politicians are now rushing around, wringing their hands about the recent violence in King’s Cross? Well, hello, unions have been way ahead of the curve here.

    Two years ago– TWO YEARS AGO — a coalition of unions representing doctors, nurses, paramedics and police officers demanded that politicians act to stop alcohol-fuelled violence. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why: those front-line workers have to deal with the violence and it’s an occupational hazard. While politicians– the same ones rushing to the microphones now — sit home in comfort, its the union workers who have to transport injured people to hospitals, stitch up the wounds, and restore order in the streets.

    The campaign, called Last Drinks, was pretty clear about what needed to be done:

    The coalition believes strongly in evidence-based policy solutions.  And the evidence shows that the most effective way to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence in the Australian context is by placing restrictions on the late night sale of alcohol.  In particular, the recent experience in Newcastle has shown a sustained decrease in the number of night-time assaults of over 30 per cent – which was achieved after a number of restrictions were placed on licensed venues in the Newcastle CBD.  These restrictions include:

    • 3am closing time for all venues;
    • Lock-outs at venues from 1.30 am; and
    • Restrictions on the sale of high-alcohol content drinks (such as shots) after 10pm.

    By the way, it’s already worked, as you can see from this news report:

    The Last Drinks coalition, a group of union-led police, doctors and nurses, says the measures have helped reduce late-night violence since being introduced in Newcastle.

    ‘We know what works – a suite of simple measures like reduced trading hours and lock-outs,’ Police Association of NSW president Scott Weber said.

    So, here you have one shining example of the wiseness and knowledge of workers, and the union leaders who represent them, on the one hand, versus the short-sited rantings of craven politicians, on the other hand. If it wasn’t for ideology– meaning, why should we listen to unions? — politicians might have listened to the people leading the Last Drinks campaign, and, maybe, just maybe, one young man, Thomas Kelly, would still be alive, and a lot more people would have returned home to sleep in their beds, with no injuries other than a bit of a hangover.