The Australian government plans to crack down on drunken violence on New Year's Eve by restricting alcohol at events across the country. In Sydney, the nation's biggest city, revellers are banned from bringing beer and wine to the harbor to watch the annual fireworks display after trouble in recent years.
More than 1.5 million people will cram along Sydney Harbor to watch the lavish fireworks displays on New Year's Eve, Thursday. City authorities have set up alcohol free zones to address concerns from area residents and the police about drunken behaviour during the festive season.
Recent events have been tarnished by inebriated revellers.
Police officers and security guards will search bags to ensure that alcohol is not brought to many of the most popular vantage points near the Opera House and Harbor Bridge. Liquor will, however, be sold at licensed bars at some venues.
The restrictions have infuriated many residents and tourists, who think they are unfairly paying the price for the bad conduct of a small number of drunks.
Similar measures have been adopted by local governments elsewhere. In the resort town of Byron Bay in New South Wales, officials have banned alcohol in the streets, parks and beaches on New Year's Eve.
A recent survey has found that many Australians double or even triple their consumption of alcohol over the Christmas period.
Geoff Munro from the Australian Drug Foundation urges moderation.
"It is important that hosts at functions provide a range of drinks, not just alcoholic but ensure that people have got non-alcoholic drinks because people need to be reminded that they can have a great time without drinking," he said.
Alcohol-related violence in Australia, including sexual assaults and fights, has almost doubled in the past 15 years.
Each week alcohol abuse kills on average more than 60 Australians, while 1,500 end up in hospitals.