Alcohol-fuelled violence at the top of discussions
18/07/2012 - A family friend of slain teenager Thomas Kelly says young people's attitude towards alcohol is the cause of violence on the streets of Sydney's Kings Cross.
David Antsee says he and Thomas' father Ralph have spoken since the teenager's death earlier this month of having often frequented the notorious nightspot in their own youth.
"Ralph and I talked about walking up and down those streets when we were 18 and actually feeling safe," an emotional Antsee told a forum discussing violence in Kings Cross on Tuesday night.
"But Tom only got two minutes at it."
"Why (Thomas' death) has happened, we don't know the full answer but the statistics show the alcohol issue is a key driver."
Antsee asked the forum's panel, which included Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and local federal MP Malcolm Turnbull, whether governments should support a campaign aimed at altering young people's risky attitude towards going out.
"(That) it's cool to go out and do drugs all night ... that it's uncool not to club until 4am," he said.
The forum was arranged after Thomas, 18, was king-hit in an unprovoked attack while walking along a footpath on his first visit to the infamous strip on July 7.
His life support was switched off two days later.
Alcohol and drug-fuelled anti-social behaviour was a reoccurring theme throughout the night as Kings Cross residents and business owners voiced their concerns.
NSW Hospitality Minister George Souris said his government would take immediate action beginning with a compliance audit of all pubs, clubs and bars in Kings Cross.
Souris also said the government would create a plan of management for the area.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch said the violence in Kings Cross and elsewhere in the state is mostly being caused by alcohol.
"It's the abuse and availability of alcohol," he said.
"Drugs are not the problem in Kings Cross, alcohol is the problem."
Ms Moore said one of the main issues in the area was the concentration of licenced venues.
"The city has tried to prevent the proliferation of licenced premises," she said.
"Our biggest problem is lack of power to say to developers because the area is at capacity in terms of venues and late night trading."
Ms Moore called on the state government to change laws to address policing, transport and licensing laws.
Turnbull also said the concentration of late trading bars and lack of public transport was a major problem.
"If you wanted to attract large numbers of drunk people to one location, the conditions in Kings Cross are ideal," Turnbull said.
"It's clearly nuts to have venues trading, people up there drinking until three or four in the morning and having the last train ending at a quarter to two."
The panelists offered their condolences to the Kelly family. A memorial for Thomas will be held at The King's School in Parramatta on Friday.
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