ORANGE church leaders are calling on the city’s late night hotel traders to shut their doors and stop selling alcohol after midnight in a month-long trial.
The Orange and District Ministers’ Association voted unanimously to endorse the proposal, put to the group by Bev Rankin of the Christian organisation Fusion Australia.
Mrs Rankin said her proposal, was not designed as a form of prohibition.
“I want to encourage dialogue around this issue and find a solution, not just impose sanctions,” she said.
“I’m not a wowser.
“If someone wants to have a beer after a work or wine with their meal at night that’s their choice,” she said.
Mrs Rankin said it was agreed at the ministers’ association meeting to urge hotels to trial the proposal from March 28 to April 28, taking in Easter, school and holiday university holidays and Youth Week.
Orange has three hotels that trade late, the Occidental Hotel, Hotel Orange and the Royal Hotel.
The only representative of these three hotels who agreed to comment yesterday was Occidental Hotel general manager Don Scholte.
“But all three late trading hotels have to agree,” he said.
Mr Scholte said, with a relatively short lead-up, any proposal put forward by the Ministers’ Association would involve logistical problems.
“There would have to be a campaign to let people know, because when the police asked us to voluntarily close early on Christmas Eve there were a lot of unhappy patrons,” he said.
“The nuts and bolts of putting plans in place would involve reviewing the curfew times at all hotels so there would be a flow-on effect.
"Taxis would have to be notified and police rosters would have to be changed. Who is going to pay for all that to be promoted in such a short space of time?
“It isn’t as simple as saying we will close early."
Mrs Rankin said if a trial was agreed on it needed a whole-of-community approach.
“We intend to include in our discussions the liquor outlets, general public, drinking public, police, accident and emergency services, health services, taxis and Orange City Council,” she said.
Holy Trinity Church Archdeacon Frank Hetherington said although he did not attend the Ministers’ Association meeting this week he supported an early closing trial.
“We have to challenge consumer culture," he said.
“Why should the police have to deal with people in difficult situations because they are alcohol infused and create social disorder."