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New Booze Laws Nothing To Boo-Hoo About

By Rupert Truscott-Hughes on March 20, 2014 in Other

Picture: Some aggressive dickhead

Picture: Some aggressive cockhead

I can’t believe the amount of hoo-ha that has surrounded Barry O’Farrell’s new laws in response to the spate of what the media has now dubbed ‘coward punches’.

Yes, it is reactionary, and some of the mandatory sentences may be a bit over-the-top, but the outrage coming from some corners just astounds me. I understand that civil libertarians are going to get their knickers in a knot and it is no surprise that the AHA is having its say, but aside from that, what are people whinging about?

When looking at all these coward punch incidents, from what I can tell there are a few glaringly obvious things in common in the majority of cases, namely young men, booze and late night locations such as Kings Cross and Bondi.

The longer people drink, the more likely it is that two inebriated parties will opt to settle a dispute the old-fashioned way, and on the back of that, surely it makes perfect sense to shut the pubs a bit earlier in the places where the problems are most likely to occur. It’s just the sensible thing to do, particularly from a risk management perspective.

Why on Earth any normal grown-up human would want to go out drinking beyond 3am is beyond me anyway. In all honesty, if you haven’t achieved what you need to by 3am you are doing something seriously wrong. And if needs be, just start your session a bit earlier!

I should note here that I’m not some teetotalling old fuddy duddy. I don’t mind a tipple or two and I’ve ended up on the drunk side of tipsy more often than I’d care to admit. In my heyday I went on benders that went well past 3am, but was it really worth it? Definitely not. I’d generally roll home with an empty wallet and an even emptier feeling in the pit of my stomach having wasted the best part of a day lying prone in the recovery position with a parched throat and splitting headache.

I do admit that Barry’s mandatory minimum sentences seem a bit harsh, but surely they will make pissed idiots think twice before wildly flailing their clenched fists. A potential eight years in the slammer is a big price to pay to win an argument about who was first in line at the kebab shop or why someone was “looking at you funny”. And seriously, if you don’t feel the urge clock someone after consuming a skinful (as is the case for the vast majority of law-abiding citizens), the consequences are irrelevant anyway.

As far as I can see, the biggest cock-up with Barry’s new laws is that the 3am end of service clashes with the taxi change-over. The only thing worse than having numerous pubs full of satiated drunks would be to have the streets teeming with thirsty drunks looking for a cab and happy to throw their weight around to get one. At 3am, and with no prospect of my night continuing, I’d happily throw a coward punch or two in order to get a quick cab home.

There is, of course, a simple solution to this problem: just tighten last drinks to 2am. Everyone will feel far better for it the next day and Barry may even stand a chance at the next election!

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