Wagga MP Daryl Maguire sees sense in country pubs selling alcohol later

WAGGA publicans have poured praise on moves to extend the statewide ban on takeaway alcohol imposed at 10pm.

In a report handed to the NSW government, former high court judge Ian Callinan has recommended softening the ban on bottle shop sales introduced in early 2014 as part of measures to combat alcohol-related violence following the deaths of teenagers Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie.

However, the former officer of the court warned any relaxation of takeaway sales "may elevate the risk of domestic violence".

Labor leader Luke Foley has already promised to extend sales to midnight for country pubs.

Wagga MP Daryl Maguire sees merit in extending the curfew, but is wary of returning to “the bad old days of a free-for-all”.

“I understand where publicans are coming from, particularly in remote areas where people work crazy hours and quite often get to town when everything's closed,” Mr Maguire said.

“The rules were brought in to curb the availability of alcohol but we may need to revisit the rules to make amendments. 

“The government will consider the recommendation of 11pm and make a decision next week.” 

The NSW branch of the Australian Hotels Association has previously argued the ban was designed primarily for the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross, and that it was having unintentional impacts on country pubs.

Duke of Kent publican and recent council candidate Jack Egan likened the curfew on takeaway over-the-counter alcohol to the 6 oclock swill, an hour-long speed-drinking session in the 40’s and 50’s when pubs shut at 6pm.

“10pm is a bit silly in many ways, it encourages people to binge drink,” Mr Egan said.

“After cricket or football matches the blokes want to have a few drinks at the pub and get a few more to take home.

“Everything seems to be getting harsher all the time.”

Any changes will come too late for the licensee of the Royal Hotel at Temora who is currently serving a three month suspension for flouting the takeaway rules.

Sydney entrepreneur Matt Barrie made headlines earlier this year when he penned an open letter to Premier Mike Baird, in which he said “It is now illegal to buy a bottle of wine after 10pm in NSW because not a single one of us is to be trusted with any level of personal responsibility”.

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