A COMBINATION of drugs and alcohol is a major contributor to street violence and antisocial behaviour in Orange, according to Australian Hotels Association (AHA) chief executive officer Paul Nicolaou.
“Orange is no different to anywhere else in Australia and while our members continue to work hard ensuring there’s security and strong compliance, people need to take responsibility for their own actions,” he said.
Yesterday Mr Nicolaou was in Orange to address a meeting of the Orange Liquor Accord.
“The culture has changed and it’s not just about drinking, its about drugs as well,” he said.
“Someone goes out for the night, pops an ecstasy tablet, which only costs them about $20 these days, and then has a couple of drinks on top of that and you have a problem.”
Mr Nicolaou said hotels had worked hard to train staff on the responsible service of alcohol, but identifying if someone had taken drugs was a major challenge for bar staff.
“Our members have put in a huge effort to comply with regulations, but there needs to be a tougher approach on drugs and you have to continue to have a strong police presence around pubs and clubs on the streets,” he said.
Mr Nicoloua said the majority of people who go out to pubs and clubs are well behaved.
“But drug-taking and a mix of alcohol is now a problem, and while it might be only 10 per cent of the population who are on a night out it has a huge social impact,” he said.
Mr Nicolaou said education programs were vital in the continuing campaign to rein in street violence, which was often associated with the operation of late night venues.
“There have to be ways to find local solutions for local problems and the liquor accord working closely with police is the key to that,” he said.
Mr Nicolaou acknowledged Orange City Council’s moves to consider Newcastle’s model of zero tolerance ourside licensed premises.
“But what you also have to look at is the licencees have spent a lot of money there and there used to be 11 pubs, now there are only five,” he said.
“At some point people have to be responsible for their own actions.”
As head of the AHA Mr Nicolaou spent the day familiarising himself with the new initiatives announced by NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, designed to break the cycle of alcohol-related violence in Kings Cross.
“We particularly welcome the drug dogs being able to be taken into hotels without having to get a warrant and more work that’s done in this area will see drugs disappear from licenced premises,” he said.