Mandatory eight-year jail sentences for fatal one-punch attacks fuelled by alcohol or drugs are among are raft of measures to be introduced to curb alcohol-related violence in Sydney.
The so-called one-punch laws, announced by New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell today, include expanded Sydney CBD lockout zones, a freeze on new liquor licences, and the statewide closure of bottle shops at 10:00pm.
Sentences for serious assaults involving alcohol will also be increased by two years.
"It is no longer acceptable to go out and drink yourself stupid, take illicit substances, start fights, 'coward punch' people or engage in other assaults thinking you [will] get away with it," Mr O'Farrell said.
"From the point the legislation is passed, those days are over."
The state Opposition says the laws do not go far enough, but the parents of Thomas Kelly, who died after being punched in Kings Cross in 2012, say they are happy the new laws go "way above what we were asking for".
"Mandatory is the key word here. The judge has no choice now. It's welcome news," Kelly's father Ralph said.
"It's bittersweet to know that the reform will come in shortly, but it's also still terrible for us as a family," Mr Kelly said.
"It's sad we had to bring in this change and that our community has to have these laws but if that's the only way we can... make cultural change and social change and stop thugs from hitting people, then so be it."
Expanded lockout zone stretches from Kings Cross to Darling Harbour
Under the laws, there will be a mandatory 1:30am lockout for licensed premises across an expanded Sydney CBD entertainment precinct, spanning from Kings Cross to Darling Harbour.
Drinks will not be allowed to be served after 3:00am, but premises can remain open.
Small bars, casinos, restaurants and tourist accomodation facilities will be exempt from the laws.
"Small bars are defined as up to 60 people," Mr O'Farrell said.
"As I understand it, there are less than a dozen small bars across the CBD area and most are closed by 2:00am anyway."
Periodic risk-based licensing will also be introduced for some venues.
The Government has been pressured to crack down on alcohol-fuelled violence since Kelly's death, with the debate reignited by the fatal one-punch assault of teenager Daniel Christie in Kings Cross on New Year's Eve.
The measures include:
- Eight-year minimum sentencing for alcohol or drug-fuelled assaults ending in death.
- Serious assault maximum penalty increased by two years, with mandatory minimum sentences.
- On the spot fines for disorderly behaviour increased from $200 to $1,100.
- Police have powers to immediately ban 'troublemakers' from CBD/Kings Cross.
- Penalty for possession of steroids increased from two to 25 years.
- CBD/Kings Cross venues to have 1:30am lockouts with drinks stopping at 3:00am.
- Bottle shops across NSW to close at 10:00pm.
"The new measures are tough and I make no apologies for that," Mr O'Farrell said.
"These new measures will, in some quarters, be opposed in total or, in part, by some.
"What has been happening on Sydney's CBD streets and in other parts of the state demands strong action, and this Government is committed to delivering that strong action."
Parliament will be recalled next week to pass the new measures.
The Police Association of News South Wales (PANSW) said the measures were exactly what people had asked for, and what the city of Sydney needed.
"Every weekend we are forced to pick up the pieces, phone parents and even deal with becoming the victims of violence and abuse ourselves, " Police Association president Scott Weber said.
"Today’s suite of measures is a win for the community and for all police officers who protect the community."