The Trojan War is perhaps the most famous example of a majority suffering due to the actions of individuals. It’s said the catalyst for the ten year war and subsequent siege of Troy was Helen of Troy (previously known as Helen of Sparta) deciding to leave her husband, King Menelaus, for Paris, the slimy and sleazy king of Troy. This love triangle would end up costing countless lives and the actions of three would ultimately bring about the destruction of an entire city. Although in fairness to Helen, she was apparently under the influence the whole time thanks to the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, who was punishing Menelaus for not delivering the tribute he promised for hooking him up with his wife in the first place.
The war was finally won when the Greeks constructed a giant horse to offer as tribute for their surrender, hid a few warriors inside and pretended to sail back home. Inexplicably, the ruse worked and when the Trojans wheeled the so-called gift within their previously impenetrable walls, soldiers emerged that night, opened the city gates and the rest is history.
According to Virgil’s Aenied, a priest from Troy by the name of Laocoon felt something was up but was killed by a sea serpent sent by Poseidon before he was able to warn his fellow Trojans. The reason for Laocoon’s suspicions? Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes – “I fear the Greeks, even those bearing gifts” – hence the saying “Beware of Greek’s bearing gifts”. Fortunately for Virgil, Aenied was written over two thousand years ago and back then nobody had any issue with those words. In 2016, Virgil would have immediately been branded a racist, bigoted Greekphobic. Virgil would be getting publicly shamed all over social media, outrage merchants in the media would be foaming at the mouth, #istandwithGreece would be trending and his employer would be inundated with petitions demanding he be fired. But I digress.
Whilst Sydney has not succumbed to the same fate as Troy in a literal sense, it’s impossible to deny that our city has also faced destruction thanks to the actions of a small number of individuals. Specifically, the two scumbags responsible for the tragic and senseless murders of Daniel Christie and Thomas Kelly, as well as Barry O’Farrell, the then premier who spinelessly caved in to media driven hysteria before resigning in shame months later. In 2016, much like the unsuspecting people of Troy, we too have a Trojan Horse in our midst.
As the impending release of the Ian Callinan review draws closer, lockout opponents have been feeling somewhat optimistic, if not quietly confident, about the possibility of changes to the laws. No doubt many would be even more so after reading Deputy Premier and Police Minister Troy Grant’s remarks in the Daily Telegraph today where he stated if Callinan was to suggest the 1.30am lockout be scrapped, the recommendation would be supported. One can understand how after two and a half years of lockouts any relaxation feels like a victory. But make no mistake, this statement is not cause for celebration, nor is it any indication the wowsers-that-be have had a change of heart or mind. It’s exactly the opposite on all counts.
As much as this seems like a compromise, the reality is abolishing 1.30am lockouts while retaining 3am last drinks does not change a thing. Ignoring the fact the damage has already been done, the ability to enter a bar or club after 1.30am is worthless when you’re only going to be told an hour or so later you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. Even those who work late or like to hop from venue to venue will only be slightly less inconvenienced than they have been. Imagine trying to relax after work with colleagues and friends only to be told it’s closing time just as you take a sip on your second drink of the evening. What’s the point?
Anyone who isn’t an imbecile knows the 1.30am lockout is meaningless, which is why in recent times even wowsers have been happy to concede as much. But this isn’t a humble realisation they got it all wrong, it’s simply a strategic ploy – abandoning one position while strengthening another. The “lockouts save lives” rhetoric has now been replaced with “last drinks save lives” as nanny statists rally around 3am closing times. They’re trying to sell the idea of repealing lockout laws as some kind of compromise, when in actual fact it’s all they ever wanted. Who knows whether or not this was the plan from the start, but either way let’s be honest. Anyone who has ever negotiated a deal in their life knows that opening with a completely unreasonable proposition makes whatever comes after appear attractive in comparison.
This so-called compromise and the idea that “last drinks save lives” has been introduced into the discussion not as a way to repair some of the damage done. Far from it. The Axis of Abstinence have long argued that lockouts and 3am (or earlier) closing times need to be implemented across all of New South Wales, with some going even further and calling for the laws to go national. It’s painfully obvious what their next move will be, which is why we must reject this false compromise in no uncertain terms.
Despite the inconvenient issue of supporting evidence for their claim being non-existent, wowsers will point to Sydney as undeniable proof that “last drinks save lives”. Sydney will be hailed as an overwhelming success story with the help of perfectly fudged statistics and backed up with manipulative polling data that indicates 80% of NSW agrees 3am closing times have made a huge difference. “The Sydney Solution” will be declared the blueprint for nationwide curfews, with proponents arguing if it works in Australia’s biggest city it’s a sure thing to work everywhere else. It won’t end there either. Once blanket closing times are introduced across the country it’s only a matter of time before the 2am lobbying begins, followed by calls for 1am and so on.
The “evidence” is already cooking. A recent “sneak peek” at forthcoming BOCSAR research proved to be the latest lesson in “How to use data to say anything you want it to”. BOCSAR is like that distant relative who you only see at Christmas who always gives you the same gift. The wrapping paper is always different and sometimes they mix it up with a box or a gift bag. But every single year without fail – it’s a pair of socks that don’t even fit.
- BOCSAR releases their latest report filled with variations and impressive sounding percentages.
- Politicians, doctors, the bored mother’s society and everyone else who appreciate not having to analyse information themselves bleat from the hill tops about the real impact being made by lockouts.
- The report is promptly debunked by its own data when placed under the slightest scrutiny while the above supporters abandon logic and reason in favour of a nice bunch of straws to clutch.
- Rinse, repeat, etc.
Much like when event promoters pull the same infuriating stunt, BOCSAR’s “pre-announcement announcement” was either missed or ignored by many. Perhaps they were too preoccupied with what appeared to be another giant wooden horse lurking near the gate but was in fact Scott Weber of the New South Wales Police Association. Social media was buzzing with excitement, sparked by Weber’s remarks hinting a willingness to wind back the 1.30am lockout laws. Most appeared to be completely oblivious to the Trojan Horse behind Weber’s apparent epiphany. The admission that 1.30am lockouts may have not been effective was met with a mix of optimism and “told you so” sentiment, with many outlet’s sarcastically reporting on Weber’s remarks. But amongst the back slapping, nobody cottoned on to the ruse that was unfolding.
In April, Weber wrote an article for Drinktank where he made it extremely clear the laws had his full support and he would not be backing any changes or watering down of the legislation.
“How anyone with a conscience could advocate for the laws to be watered down after seeing these statistics is beyond me.
It would be completely irresponsible to look at watering down the current alcohol violence laws which have led to this huge decrease in assaults.
These laws are saving lives – there’s no doubt about that at all.”
Weber has spent the last six years of his life tirelessly campaigning for a state wide 3am lock0ut. With Ian Callinan’s review approaching, no doubt Weber and the Last Drinks mob are preparing to capitalise on a weary public who would frankly welcome any change. Abandoning the absurd 1.30am at long last would be celebrated as a huge win, so much so that nobody even blinked when a 3am closing time was referred to as “definitely not negotiable” and “the line in the sand”. The fact that the soon to be released BOCSAR data perfectly aligned with this agenda, was also something ignored in all the excitement.
Looking at the tables in the slideshow above, isn’t it incredible, assaults are completely stable between 1.30am and 3am? Given there is nobody on the streets after 1.30am because they’re either in a venue or on their way home I would have expected to see a significant drop, perhaps more than any other time. But there isn’t one. Here’s the kicker. After what wowsers call “last drinks” at 3am, from that time until 6am assaults in the cross are apparently down by a whopping 93.9%! If this isn’t clear proof that lives have been saved, I don’t know what is.
Never mind the fact presenting a percentage without the clarification of actual numbers as evidence of a claim isn’t just farcical, it’s manipulative. 93.9% is a large number many would assume is quite impressive, 93.9% of what though??? Much like the infamous St Vincent’s data and the facial fracture claims that followed, when the raw data is not immediately made available, the presenter can create any narrative that suits. 93.9% as a figure is completely meaningless unless we know what it is based on.
Say you bought a $1 packet of chewing gum that was discounted to the tune of 95%. 95% off is a fantastic discount and sure sounds like a great deal. But at the end of the day you’re only saving yourself 95 cents. A saving of 95% is not going to impact your life in the slightest, and it’s hardly worth bragging about. Outside the world of advertising and marketing there is only one reason to gloat about a high percentage without providing context – the actual figures don’t stack up.
A month or so ago I analysed the available BOCSAR data. I’ll be publishing my findings in a separate piece and predictably, the numbers do not come close to stacking up in the way Grant, Weber and the wowsers have intended. I’ve crunched the numbers across the four LGA’s of which suburbs highlighted in BOCSAR’s data fall under and a number of variables including time and date. As has been the case all along, no matter which way you look at it, when the actual numbers are being presented there is nothing whatsoever that supports the nanny state rhetoric. Some of the percentages can be spun in their favour, but the actual figures paint a truly damning picture. That’s why the pro-nanny state lobbyists are loathe to ever present real numbers. They can’t. Real numbers don’t lie. If the raw data was ever presented to support any of their arguments they would be instantly exposed. Which is why I was quite shocked to see the following tables suddenly appear on the BOCSAR website, albeit with zero fanfare or announcement of any kind.
You can see clearly from the figures above why nobody would want to make a fuss about releasing this information. The numbers are pathetic, there’s no other way to describe them. Looking at Kings Cross, before lockouts came in there were, on average, 35 assaults per month. Since the implementation of lockouts there have been, on average, 21 assaults per month. A total drop of 14 assaults per month. Without even taking into account the drastic reduction in patronage, that figure is unremarkable in every way. Factoring in reduced patronage, we’re presented with even more evidence that assaults have statistically increased. And that’s with (presumably) more policing, less people on the streets and for less hours of the day.
This tells us three things. Firstly, all the chest beating and back slapping about the number of assaults in Kings Cross being halved thanks to lockouts is completely unjustified. Frankly, it’s embarrassing. 14 less assaults per month does not justify destroying an entertainment precinct, especially when they are still occurring all over Sydney. Not a single thing has been done to tackle the root causes of violence and the proof is in the news every day.
The second thing this tells us is just how far from reality the phrases uttered by Dr Gordian Fulde and co ad nauseam were. How many times did we hear one of these wowsers hysterically refer to Kings Cross as a “war zone” and regale the media with stories about the “carnage” they witnessed on a daily basis. I’m sorry, but to use those terms to describe 35 assaults a month occurring is a complete and utter joke. Not only is it hyperbolic and manipulative, it’s completely disrespectful. There are parts of the world that are actual warzones. Other parts have experienced atrocities, terrorism and mass murder which has caused unprecedented, actual carnage. Yet the prohibitionist lobby and their supporters have the nerve to use those terms when talking about a suburb that saw, on average, one person a day assaulted? What an absolute disgrace.
The third thing these numbers indicate is just how meaningless the 93.9% drop in assaults between 3am and 6am is. Given the actual drop is 14 people per month, even if assaults only occurred between 3am and 6am 93.9% equates to a reduction of 13 people – hardly a number worthy of the trumpet blowing from wowsers based on their misleading percentage figure. But it gets worse. Obviously not every assault occurs exclusively in that time slot.
Without having access to data that tells us when assaults occur it’s impossible to ascertain exactly what the figure is. However using St Vincent’s alcohol related violence ER presentation data we can make an educated estimation. According to their figures, approximately 15% of alcohol related serious injury presentations are made between 3am and 6am during High Alcohol Time, which is 6pm Friday to 6am Sunday. Keep in mind a) alcohol related serious injury isn’t just assaults, it’s any injury where alcohol may have been a factor and b) St Vincent’s catchment area includes the entire eastern suburbs region. One could suggest 15% is being generous, but hey, I’m a generous guy like that. Therefore based on the 15% estimate, the pre-lockout figure was 5.25 per month which suggests a 93.9% reduction is really just a drop of 4.88 assaults per month. No matter which way you look at it, it’s undeniable that lockouts have not made any positive impact and that 3am last drinks do not save lives.
As for the CBD, the reduction is even less noteworthy. 151 assaults per month per lockouts down to 130 per month since gives a reduction of 21 per month. I don’t need to elaborate on how poor that is, nor do you need me to. The figures speak for themselves. The small increases seen in Pyrmont and Newtown are to be expected. I find it interesting that Don Weatherburn and BOCSAR noted the displacement areas as “stable”. I agree that the increase in those specific areas is not a worthy point of discussion, however it’s worth pointing out what we would have seen had the same method of presenting the information been applied to the areas that saw increases in assaults.
Newtown went from 14 per month to 15 – an increase of roughly 8%.
Pyrmont went from 9 per month to 13 – an increase of roughly 45%
The Star went from 3.5 per month to 6.3 – an increase of roughly 80%
Without actual numbers it would be easy to say Pyrmont has seen a 45% increase in assaults while Kings Cross has seen a 45% decrease. You could also say thanks to 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks the casino has seen a whopping 80% increase. Obviously it would be totally misleading to do so as the percentages clearly don’t tell an accurate story. But it’s exactly what has been done with the decreases seen in Kings Cross and the CBD.
Of the Pyrmont and casino increases, Weatherburn stated (quite rightly) –
“it’s not a big increase”
“It’s worth pointing out, the increase at that location is nowhere near as big as the decrease that’s happened in Kings Cross and the CBD,”
He’s entirely correct when he says the percentage increases for Pyrmont and the casino are misleading and he clarifies this by referencing the actual assault numbers. So why wasn’t the same clarification offered when presenting the percentage decreases for Kings Cross and the CBD?
To top it all off, we can see from the graph above that assaults were generally decreasing well before the lockouts were introduced. The decrease in assaults seen post implementation does not appear to be dropping at a more significant rate than it already was prior, with Kings Cross being the exception – visually that is, not realistically. I explored the historical trends for the last 15 years when scrutinising all the other data and will also be including that with my upcoming analysis. But until then the figures above paint a clear enough picture.
So given his remarks in today’s Telegraph, I would love it if our Deputy Premier could please clarify for us exactly how “last drinks save lives”? Or if not, perhaps one of the many wowsers from the Axis of Abstinence who spend their lives repeating the bogus claims like a parrot who has picked up a swear word from their owner could? One would assume that there was at least some legitimate evidence to substantiate such a big call, especially if prohibitionists intend on pushing their agenda nationwide while using Sydney as some kind of “success” story. Surely they wouldn’t deliberately deceive and manipulate the public… I suppose time will tell. For now though, one thing is certain. The data does not back up the agenda, not even in the slightest.
And when you ask the data if “last drinks save lives” – the answer is a resounding NO.
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