NSW Premier Mike Baird has hit back at complaints lock out laws and tough anti-drinking measures have killed the soul of the harbour city.
Baird took to Facebook on Tuesday, saying assaults are down 42.2 percent in the CBD since the state government's lock out laws came into effect, while the number of small bars in Sydney has more than doubled in the same time period.
He also said alcohol related assaults had dropped by 60 percent in Kings Cross.
"The main complaints seem to be that you can’t drink till dawn any more and you can’t impulse-buy a bottle of white after 10pm," Baird wrote on Facebook.
"I understand that this presents an inconvenience. Some say this makes us an international embarrassment. Except, assaults are down by 42.2 percent.
"And there is nothing embarrassing about that."
There has been a vocal online backlash to the Facebook post, which attracted around 5,600 'likes' by Tuesday evening, but even more comments -- the vast majority of which criticised the measures. Commenters accused the Premier of cherry-picking statistics and questioned whether the crime had simply been pushed to other areas.
Baird's comments come after a Sydney-based entrepreneur wrote a scathing blog claiming Sydney's night life had been almost destroyed.
"A succession of incompetent governments has systematically dismantled the entire night time economy through a constant barrage of rules, regulation and social tinkering," wrote Freelancer.com CEO Matt Barrie.
During the week NSW police had to explain their decision to question a small bar owner over his wine list display.
Baird was unapologetic in his Facebook post on Tuesday and said the lock out laws are about fixing 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. I met face to face with the families of victims.
"We introduced laws to curb violence and to eliminate drinking ghettos by redistributing the nightlife across the city, making the whole city more vibrant.
"Now, some have suggested these laws are really about moralising. They are right. These laws are about the moral obligation we have to protect innocent people from drunken violence."
The premier said while evidence of the improvement is anecdotal, there was "lots of hard data" starting to come in and a detailed review of the effects of the lock-out laws will be undertaken.
"But as I’ve said before, it is going to take a lot for me to change my mind on a policy that is so clearly improving this city," he said.
In November St Vincent's Emergency Department head Gordian Fulde told The Huffington Post Australia research showed those late-night injuries decreased when Sydney's controversial pub and club lockout laws were put in place.
There are concerns however that alcohol fuelled violence has spread to some suburbs surrounding the CBD.Suggest a correction