Christmas cruises cancelled for Sydney charter vessel

Published: 24 Dec 2021

Released by: Liquor & Gaming

A charter vessel operating in Sydney Harbour will be closed for 72 hours after a series of incidents culminated in a police operation.

NSW Police responded to drunk, violent, and quarrelsome behaviour on the MV John Cadman III eight times in a three-month period including one where undercover police attended a ticketed event and observed serious liquor licence breaches.

Police referred the matter to the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority which determined that the lack of compliance posed an ongoing risk to public health and safety, and a temporary closure from Friday 6.00 pm to Monday 6.00 pm was necessary.

Director of the Authority’s Secretariat, Dr Rochelle Hurst, said during interactions with the vessel, Police reported observing:

  • extremely intoxicated and unconscious passengers
  • passengers vomiting on the floor
  • passengers carried off the boat unable to stand
  • physical assaults
  • evidence of drug use
  • a lack of compliance with fundamental legal obligations such as liquor trading hours and RSA rules that are there to keep people safe. 

“Police resources were directed at this vessel so frequently that they undertook an operation and arrested three people for possession of prohibited drugs,” Dr Hurst said.

“The operation confirmed the licensee did not have adequate systems and protocols in place to ensure compliance with the Liquor Act, which in effect creates a high-risk environment for everyone involved.

“It is logistically challenging for emergency services to access vessels out in the harbour at night and to intervene or extract people in a safe and timely manner. If something goes wrong on one of these ‘party boats’, it can be very dangerous.

“In a particularly serious incident in October, a patron was knocked unconscious on the dancefloor and woke up in a room on the ship with a cracked tooth, a broken nose and a bleeding mouth.

“The vessel’s staff waited for the end of the four-hour trip to bundle the injured man into an Uber and sent him home without recording the incident or making a police report.”

The MV John Cadman III operates 12 nightclub-style events each year with three levels and DJs and a 377-person capacity.

“We need all vessel licensees to understand their legally binding obligations and be serious about their responsibilities when hosting events involving alcohol consumption.”

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