I’m pleased to report the summer has been a productive one for the NSW Government.
We delivered a couple of early Christmas presents to the people of Sydney, opening the upgraded Camden Valley Way in the growing south west a year early and $28 million under budget, and I joined commuters onboard one of two brand new Manly Fast Ferries, allowing tourists and commuters to travel between the Sydney CBD and what I consider to be the best beach in the world in comfort and style.
I joined the Transport Minister in January to witness the giant tunnel boring machine known as ‘Florence’ break her way through solid rock to what will become the new Cherrybrook station. The event marked the completion of tunneling on Australia’s longest railway tunnels, which are all part of construction on the Sydney Metro Northwest.
I then set off on a trip to regional NSW with the Health Minister where we officially opened Parkes Hospital – which we delivered on time and ahead of budget on a brand new site – and opened major redevelopments at Dubbo and Forbes Hospitals.
Back in Sydney, I toured the site of the new Northern Beaches Hospital at Frenchs Forest, due to open in 2018, joined the Chinese community to light the Sydney Opera House in red to welcome the Lunar New Year of the Monkey, and announced the completion of our program to deliver at least one set of school zone flashing lights at all of the state’s public schools with students at Coogee Public School.
As NSW Parliament resumes for another year, there has been one issue that has captured the attention of many people across the state.
Sydney’s lockout laws were introduced to fix a serious problem. Violence had spiralled out of control, people were literally being punched to death in the city, and there were city streets too dangerous to stroll down on a Friday night. The community was rightly outraged. I was personally outraged and I met with the families of victims. You don’t need to see that sort of pain too often to realise there is a problem that needs fixing and the Government was determined to act.
We introduced the laws in February 2014 to curb violence and to eliminate drinking ghettos by redistributing the nightlife across the city, making the whole city more vibrant.
Two years on and we have announced an independent, evidence-based review will be conducted of the 1.30am lockouts, 3am last drinks and 10pm takeaway liquor laws. Former High Court Justice, the Hon. Ian Callinan AC QC has been appointed to lead the review.
I would encourage everyone to have their say and make a submission to the review. I think that we have a responsibility to keep our streets as safe as we can and I don’t think anyone can dispute that what we had there a couple years ago was not acceptable and it will take a lot to convince me that these laws should be lifted.
Mr Callinan will provide his final report in August 2016 and we’ll consider his findings and recommendations before responding later in 2016.
Submissions can be made online or by mail. Further details of the review and consultation process are available at http://www.justice.nsw.gov.au/liquorlawreview