The hospital on the frontline of alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney is predicting a rise in assaults and injuries if CBD lockout laws are repealed.
A parliamentary committee report released on Monday found the laws, involving a 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks in the CBD and Kings Cross, have damaged Sydney’s night-time business and culture.
It’s recommending rescinding them in the CBD, saying it could provide a $16 billion annual boost to the NSW economy.
However, it stopped short of recommending ditching the lockout laws in Kings Cross until sufficient changes are made and a review is conducted in 12 months’ time.
But St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst, around the corner from the notorious party precinct, has warned easing regulations will result in more violence.
The report also recommended extending bottle shop trading hours by one hour, to midnight from Monday to Saturday and to 11pm on Sunday.
St Vincent’s emergency director Associate Professor Paul Preisz said evidence from Norway and the Netherlands showed an alcohol trading extension would prompt alcohol-related injuries and assaults.
“All the evidence tells us, for every extra hour alcohol is made more accessible there’s an associated increase in harms, including alcohol-related violence,” Prof Preisz said in a statement on Monday.
“It’s what’s happened overseas and it’s likely to happen in Sydney if the government abolishes 3am last drinks in the CBD and extends the opening hours of bottle shops as the committee has recommended.”
Prof Preisz said St Vincent’s had treated 60 per cent fewer facial fractures, 20 per cent fewer eye fractures and 25 per cent fewer alcohol poisoning cases since the 2014 implementation of lockout laws.
He said the government was at risk of “buckling to vested interests”.
But committee chair and NSW Liberal MLC Natalie Ward said safety and night-time entertainment were not mutually exclusive.
“No one wants to return to the days of Kings Cross in 2014 and our report is absolutely cognisant of that,” Ms Ward told reporters.