Proposed Trial to Ease Alcohol Restrictions in Local Parks
Waverley Council has been debating the age-old question of whether or not local residents deserve to be treated like adults. The current alcohol prohibition across public areas supports the long-standing belief (unfortunately reinforced by events such as Coogee-gate 2016) that we can’t be trusted to enjoy a few sensible drinks. While we understand the dilemma authorities face, the average local simply wants to be treated like a grown-up.
The latest campaign to relax drinking regulations was lead by Joseph O’Donoghue, who ran as Keep Sydney Open’s Coogee candidate in March. Mr O’Donoghue contacted Waverley Council after witnessing a man in Bronte Park being instructed by rangers to tip the glass of wine he was enjoying alongside his wife and baby onto the grass.
“The sheer presence of the rangers, and their interference to ask nearly every group if they had alcohol, injected this really unnecessary tension into the park, when it should have just been about relaxing and enjoying the afternoon,” said Mr O’Donoghue.
In fairness to rangers, they cop a lot of abuse for simply enforcing the rules. I’m sure they would much rather be sitting on the grass enjoying a glass of wine than being shouted at to ‘get a real job’. However, there’s clearly an issue here with zero tolerance policies.
“We all remember experiencing these sort of rules when we were in primary school. If little Johnny accidentally kicked that ball out onto the busy road outside, the ball was confiscated – forever! Despite the fact that nearly all of us did absolutely nothing wrong, we all were forced to miss out because of one idiot’s mistake or bad behaviour. This wasn’t fair then and it certainly isn’t fair now,” said Mr O’Donoghue.
The proposed action by Waverley Council is to conduct a trial allowing alcohol consumption in Bronte and Bondi Parks between 12 noon and 7pm from December 1, 2019 to March 30, 2020. This received support from Greens Councillor Elaine Keenan.
“The demographic of our area has changed dramatically with the median age of our residents being 35 and I believe they would support a short trial,” Councillor Keenan told The Beast.
“It has been decades since the ban was reviewed and councillors should make evidence-based decisions.”
A decision on whether or not the trial would go ahead was due to be made at Council’s November meeting. As The Beast went to print the meeting was yet to occur but, crucially, both Council and the Police Area Commander (PAC) needed to agree in order for the trial to proceed. Judging by previous meetings (where PAC representatives claimed that this would allow large groups to consume unrestricted quantities without intervention and lead to violence, sexual assault, littering and anti-social behaviour) this seemed unlikely.
However, they also said, “Police currently perform the role of early intervention. We identify those groups we consider at risk and, for the most part, those people who are responsible probably avoid detection by police because they are being responsible.” So although we don’t suggest in any way that you should indulge in illegal drinking activities, you could in theory get away with it if you behave yourself and catch the fuzz in a good mood.
By the time you read this article, the trial’s fate will probably have already been decided. While we go to print still hoping that we may be allowed to legally enjoy a cold one on a picnic blanket this summer, we’ll probably have to settle for a schooner at one of our beachside establishments while trying to duck out of someone else’s Instagram story instead. Cheers to bureaucracy.