Assaults rise at Sydney’s Star casino after lockout laws

The Star casino precinct is one of central Sydney’s hot spots for violence with new statistics showing a slight rise in the number of assaults in the area.

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Pyrmont is also the only central city suburb to have an increase in assaults since the state government introduced its controversial lockout laws.

The Star is not subject to the restrictions introduced in 2014, which ban patrons entering pubs and clubs in Kings Cross and the CBD after 1.30am and stop bars serving drinks after 3am.

Since then, the number of non-domestic assaults in the Pyrmont area has increased to average almost 13 assaults (12.83) per month, a report from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics (BOCSAR) has found.

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This amounts to about two additional assaults a month in the area.

BOCSAR director Don Weatherburn said the increase was far less than the reduction in violence recorded at Kings Cross and the CBD.

“The increase that’s happened is nowhere near as big as the decrease that’s happened at Kings Cross and the CBD,” Dr Weatherburn said on Wednesday.

“But there’s no doubt there has been a significant increase” at The Star and its surrounds in Pyrmont, he said.

The bureau did not find a similar increase in assaults in other popular nightlife areas exempt from the state’s lockout laws – such as Newtown, Bondi or Double Bay.

“This is the only one so far we can see an increase in,” Dr Weatherburn said.

Minister for Justice and Police Troy Grant said he was pleased to see that claims the divisive legislation would push nightlife violence to other parts of Sydney were unfounded.

“There were lots of advocates out there saying the lockout laws would create mayhem and chaos in the surrounding areas but the statistics have not borne (that) out,” he said.

The Star continues to take issue with BOCSAR’s statistics, saying its own monthly reviews show there was a reduction in assault numbers at the casino from 2014 and 2015.

“Statistically there is one incident at The Star for every 211,000 visitors,” a spokesman told AAP.

“The Star believes one incident is one too many but we continue to work closely with the casino regulator and the NSW Police to review and minimise anti-social behaviour,” he said.

The research comes as a state government review into the lockout laws considers whether further restrictions should be placed on venues such as The Star.

The inquiry, led by former High Court judge Ian Callinan, is due to report later this year.

Number of non-domestic assaults around Sydney

* Sydney CBD

2014: 1553

2015: 1545

* Kings Cross

2014: 298

2015: 206

* Pyrmont

2014: 142

2015: 154

Source: NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

Obama starts talks with Gulf leaders

US President Barack Obama and Gulf Arab leaders have started talks in Riyadh at a summit aimed at forging joint action on perceived security threats from Iran and Islamic State.

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It’s also a chance to iron out strains in their old alliance.

Obama, who arrived on Wednesday, hopes to allay Gulf countries’ fears over Iranian influence and encourage them to douse sectarian tensions in an effort to confront the threat posed by jihadist militants like Islamic State.

Those issues were addressed in his bilateral talks on Wednesday with leaders from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and will dominate again in the summit which includes the other Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) members.

Years of frustration among Gulf countries, aggravated by more recent stumbles, may make Saudi Arabia and its regional allies less receptive to Obama on his fourth and most probably final trip to the kingdom.

The Middle East is mired in a contest for influence between a bloc of mostly Sunni countries, including the conservative, pro-Western Gulf monarchies, and revolutionary Shi’ite Iran and its allies.

Most of the GCC states, which also include Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, have been bitterly disappointed in Obama’s presidency, during which they believe the United States has pulled back from the region, giving more space to Iran.

They were also upset by Obama’s remarks in a magazine interview that appeared to cast them as “free-riders” in US security efforts and urged them to “share” the region with Tehran.

For his part, the American president has said he wants Gulf allies to offer more democratic reforms and improve human rights, which he discussed with Saudi King Salman on Wednesday.

Adding to tensions is a bill proposed in US Congress to lift Riyadh’s immunity if any Saudi officials are found to have been involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The United States remains deeply enmeshed in Gulf security, however, co-operating closely with the monarchies to strengthen their armed forces and share intelligence aimed at countering Islamist militant groups.

Dockers won’t crack, says coach Lyon

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon is adamant he and his players won’t fracture under the intense pressure confronting the club, saying the tough period could ultimately define the team.

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The Dockers’ premiership hopes already appear over after opening the season with four straight AFL losses.

Lyon’s attempt to transform Fremantle into a more attacking unit this season has backfired spectacularly, with the Dockers nursing the third worst percentage in the league after leaking an average of 113 points per game.

Never before has a Lyon-coached team opened the season with four straight losses.

But the 59-year-old has been able to overcome several other dire situations during his coaching career.

In Lyon’s final year as coach of St Kilda in 2011, the Saints had just one win to their name after seven rounds before storming home to reach the finals.

And in Lyon’s first year as coach of Fremantle in 2012, AFL great Kevin Bartlett labelled the Dockers “unwatchable” after they managed a paltry 5.6 in a 48-point western derby loss to West Coast in round nine.

Fremantle went on to post one of their most famous finals victories later that year – a 16-point elimination final win over Geelong at the MCG, before reaching the grand final a year later.

Now, Lyon has laid down the challenge for his players and coaching staff to overcome the current form crisis.

“This period will define us … it’s how you respond,” said Lyon, who recently re-signed with Fremantle until the end of 2020.

“And if you’re a senior player, your legacy is how you inspire young players when things are tough, to work through it and come out the other side.

“And that’s the same as senior coach and my coaching group.

“We’ve all seen clubs fragment and they wobble under pressure, and people rattle the cage.

“We’ve been here before. I don’t think it was a glorious start to my tenure here.

“I’m sure there were some things written and said, even after the first derby.

“We didn’t fracture. All we did was work hard and we improved our footy. So that’s the aim again.”

Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe says the playing group are willing to wear some short-term pain in order to achieve long-term success.

Lyon praised the resilience of his group, but said there were no guarantees.

“Well I know there’s plenty of short term pain. We tick that first box don’t we?” Lyon said.

“And we’ll be able to judge down the track whether there’s been some long-term benefit.”

Fremantle will have the perfect chance to snap their losing run when they take on struggling Carlton in Sunday’s bottom-of-the-table clash at Domain Stadium.

Lyon confirmed skipper David Mundy would miss a third straight game with a calf issue, but ruckman Zac Clarke (knee) is a chance to return.