STOP THE VIOLENCE: Lismore taxi driver and North Coast Taxi Council vice-president Doug Lawrence is sick of alcohol-fuelled assaults.
STOP THE VIOLENCE: Lismore taxi driver and North Coast Taxi Council vice-president Doug Lawrence is sick of alcohol-fuelled assaults. Patrick Gorbunovs

Taxi driver fed up with fights

NORTHERN Rivers cabbies are fed up with drunken violence and have welcomed the New South Wales Taxi Council's support for the State Government's one-punch-can-kill campaign.

North Coast Taxi Council vice-president Doug Lawrence, 70, lamented the stupidity of alcohol and drug-fuelled assaults.

"Some of the violence that goes on is not pleasant, that's for sure," the driver of 37 years said, noting the necessity of CCTV cameras in cabs.

"If people want to go out and have a few drinks good luck to them, but if they're going to carry on they need to figure out when enough is enough.

"Our drivers see things like brawls in the street, to domestic violence and simple drunken fighting.

"Our drivers do have to know how to deal with violent or threatening situations."

Mr Lawrence said drivers quickly learn to assess a person's mood and personality when they enter a cab, especially if they appear intoxicated.

"You've got to humour them a bit, make sure you stay safe," he said.

"There are situations where you're alone in a cab with them and it's really not a great place to be.

"In the most extreme cases of violence alcohol seems to almost always play a part."

Mr Lawrence said strict new legislation relating to assaults would reduce attacks, but education was needed to change drinking and drug culture.

Byron Bay Taxis general manager Jason Pitt, 34, said the campaign would complement a strong police presence in the town.

"This sort of campaign is what's needed to change our drinking culture," he said.

"A lot of our drivers are quite experienced at dealing with situations ... but I do think it will make a difference."

Mr Pitt said violence in Byron had decreased since the town's introduction of 1.30am venue lockouts and last drinks at 3am.

Campaign Keynotes

  • 20-year maximum sentence for one-punch deaths.
  • Police power to drug/alcohol test violent assault suspects.
  • Anti-social behaviour: $1100 maximum fine.
  • 10pm close for all bottle shops.
  • 1.30am venue lockout, last drinks at 3am.

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