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NSW Premier outed for misrepresenting assault stats in Facebook rant

Can't really argue with the director of the bureau that compiled them, eh?

  • 10 February 2016

NSW Premier Mike Baird's use of stats to talk up Sydney's lockout laws in yesterday's Facebook rant has been outed as a misrepresentation by the group that compiled them.

Speaking on ABC radio, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research director Dr Don Weatherburn said Mr Baird's claim that "alcohol related assaults have decreased by 42.2 per cent in the CBD since we introduced the 'lock-out laws'. And they’re down by over 60 per cent in Kings Cross," did not take fundamental factors into account.

"What the premier was doing was comparing the situation before the lockout laws to the situation after," Dr Weatherburn told the station. "And the problem with that is assaults have been coming down in New South Wales since 2008, so you have this preexisting downward trend."

Dr Weatherburn said the real figures were closer to a decrease of 40 per cent in Kings Cross, and 20 per cent in the lockout affected Sydney 'CBD entertainment precinct', substantially lower than what Baird proclaimed.

And, as some have pointed out on the initial Facebook thread, the huge reduction in foot traffic in those areas could actually mean assaults have increased per capita since the laws were introduced.

“You can’t really compare before and after if the assaults are already on their way down," Dr Weatherburn went on. "What the lockout laws did was accelerate that downward trend so it fell even faster after the lockout laws.”

Clarification from an indisputable expert is sure to be a bit of a downer for Baird, whose claim that "the number of small bars in Sydney has more than doubled in the same time period" is another we're not too sure about.

Scott Carbines is Mixmag's Australian Online News Editor, follow him on Twitter here.

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