An intense debate currently underway over whether the nanny state has stifled Sydney nightlife has had more fuel added after sensational claims NSW police took issue with a wine bar’s wine list.
Claims that NSW Police questioned the manager of a small bar over its wine list because it promoted “unsavoury behaviour” have emerged online after one of one of the bar’s owners posted about the incident on Instagram.
In the post showing a picture of the wine list, Giovanni Paradiso, co-owner of Sydney bar 10 William Street, expressed incredulity after police allegedly spoke with the bar manager and took issue with some of the contents of the wine list and its position in the bar.
“So according to. (sic) NSW POLICE FORCE our blackboard with what we are pouring by the glass is promoting unsavory (sic) antisocial behavior SYDNEY WHAT THE F*** IS HAPPENING” he wrote.
Another co-owner told online magazine Broadsheet that the police had allegedly taken issue with a reference to “free wine” on the sign which he said was actually about preservative free wine. He said the police also said the wine list was too close to the front of the restaurant and could promote heavy drinking.
“We are a wine bar, so we put our wines by the glass at the front, and hand people a menu when they sit down. We’ve had it like this for six years," Mr Ambrosino said.
NSW police media told SBS the bar was approached as part of a wider operation in the inner Sydney region on Saturday.
"On the night of and Friday 7 February and Saturday 6 February 2016, police from the Central Metropolitan Region, as well as the Alcohol & Licensing Enforcement Command (ALEC) conducted an operation across Sydney City, Kings Cross, Surry Hills and Newtown Local Area Commands," the statement said.
"The Operation targeted alcohol related violence, anti-social behaviour and compliance with the Liquor Amendment Act 2014. During the operation about 155 businesses and licensed premises were patrolled. It is common for police to provide advice to licensees regarding potential licensing breaches or issues during business inspections. Twelve licensing breaches were detected during the operation."
The incident comes after an online essay about the death of Sydney’s nightlife at the hands of NSW Government polices exploded online last week.
In the piece CEO of Freelancer.com Mark Barrie wrote: “Something pernicious has happened in the 15 years since, and Sydney has not just regressed into a ghost town, but there is an undercurrent of something much more sinister in the way the city is being run. As I write this in 2016, not a day goes by without the press reporting of yet another bar, club, hotel, restaurant or venue closing.”
The essay Would The Last Person in Sydney Please Turn The Lights Out, appears to have struck a nerve, having been and shared many times online and picked up by major media outlets.
Mr Barrie blamed media reporting of a handful of tragic incidents for what he described as a massive overreaction by NSW Government and regulatory agencies including the Police.
"A special little person has decided that there is a certain time at night when we are all allowed to go out, and there is a certain time that we are allowed into an establishment and a certain time that we are all supposed to be tucked into bed.”
"It is now illegal to buy a bottle of wine after 10pm in the City of Sydney because not a single one of us is to be trusted with any level of personal responsibility.
"Likewise it is now illegal to have a scotch on the rocks after midnight in the City of Sydney because someone might die. You can drink it if you put some Coca-cola in it, but you can't drink it if the Coca-cola has been mixed previously with it and it's been put in a can."
The Government has defended the lockout laws and its policing strategy citing an ongoing decline in alcohol related violence across the inner city since the lock out laws were introduced.
SBS has sought further comment form Mr Paradiso and Mr Ambrosino.