A NSW country town that is drowning in broken glass, will have the State's most draconian liquor laws when takeaway sales of bottled beer are banned.
Liquor and Gaming director Albert Gardner said it was the first time a town-wide ban on retail beer sales had been imposed in NSW.
Tough new powers of the Liquor Act will be used to try to cut Bourke's crime rate and rid its streets and playgrounds of broken glass.
Mr Gardner has flagged a town-wide ban on takeaway sales of bottled beer and alcopops as well as other measures to tackle alcohol-related problems in the western community.
Crime statistics have consistently put Bourke among the worst places in the state for assault, sexual assault and vandalism.
After two visits to Bourke, and with a third planned next week, Mr Gardner said he was shocked when he saw the amount of broken glass on the ground.
"I have never seen anything like it," he said.
"It's tragic. It's not like our kids here where they can roll around in the grass. You roll around in the grass there and you end up in a hospital with 1000 stitches."
Mr Gardner proposes to use new powers granted to him under the Liquor Act to:
- Ban takeaway sales of fortified wines such as sherry;
- Force the town's three pubs and one club to serve only low-alcohol beer and wine between 10am and 2pm; and
- Restrict alcohol sales to containers of two litres or less.
It would still be possible to take away canned drinks. The new rules would also apply to the bottle shop and supermarket.
Mr Gardner's plan for a drier Bourke comes after local police pleaded for strong action.
In a submission, police said most alcohol-related incidents they attended were in homes, streets or parks.
Mr Gardner said it was clear people wanted change.
"I am calling for input from the licensed venues and the general community about the merits of this plan and any other strategies that might help to make Bourke a safer and better place to live," he said.
"I will carefully consider every submission before making a final decision."
Bourke Alcohol Working Group chairman Alistair Ferguson, who also heads the Bourke Aboriginal Community Working Party, said the alcohol problem had been exacerbated by drought and a lack of jobs.