Police make arrests as drunken Christmas Day beach parties in Melbourne and Sydney ‘escalate’
Police and revellers exchange accusations after confrontations involving several thousand people at St Kilda and Little Bay
Four people have been arrested after two huge, unplanned Christmas parties involving more than 8,000 people, Santa hats and a lot of alcohol in Melbourne and Sydney.
Five thousand people gathered at Melbourne’s St Kilda beach on Monday afternoon and continued drinking past the local council’s 8pm alcohol ban, trashing the foreshore and resulting in two people being arrested for public drunkenness and assault.
A 27-year-old man was hit by a tram in the aftermath, a 27-year-old woman was taken to hospital with alcohol poisoning and several others were injured by stepping on broken glass, police said.
Victoria police inspector Jason Kelly said the unplanned event had “escalated” and left an “appalling, really unacceptable” level of rubbish behind for workers from Port Philip council to clean up.
“What really disappoints Victoria police is the level of intoxication that occurred here tonight as evidenced by the level of rubbish left behind,” Kelly said in a beachside interview on Christmas night.
Kelly said while the beach was open to everyone, the “level of intoxication” was disappointing. “Overall, considering the number of people here and that we have dispersed them … it was a significant response from Victoria police to ensure the local safety of the community here,” he said. The council instituted a 10-day drinking ban on the beach from Boxing Day.
— Nicole Garmston (@garmoheraldsun) December 25, 2017
In the Sydney suburb of Little Bay, revellers complained of being pushed and pepper sprayed by police who arrived to break up a gathering of about 3,000 backpackers.
Two women aged 23 and 25 were arrested and charged with assaulting police, who allege the women hit them with bottles.
Welcome to the St Kilda Tip, formerly known as the St Kilda Foreshore, after 5000+ trashed it last night. pic.twitter.com/LpeTv5Te8e
— Paul Dowsley (@pauldowsley7) December 25, 2017
Footage of the aftermath of the party shows officers attempting to disperse the gathering. Videos from the scene posted online show dozens of people in Santa hats drinking, singing and dancing to loud music.
One man wearing a panda head and carrying a boxed-wine bladder, or “goon bag”, holds up his middle finger as police officers approach the booing crowd.
Ol' mate in the panda head, flinging around his goon bag, who flips the bird to the cops as they approach the Little Bay beach party gets a special mention in my yarn. pic.twitter.com/DxfgDx4oOR
— Jamie McKinnell (@jamie86) December 25, 2017
One video posted on Facebook showed at least four women being pushed to the ground, including two who landed on the road, as officers doused others with pepper spray.
Stephen Minshaw, who was injured, said police were hitting people with batons as they tried to leave.
“I don’t get why the police needed to use force,” he told the Seven Network.
“We’re backpackers, we’re not going to … fight back against them.”
He denied the party had got out of hand.
Little Bay: "We're backpackers. So, I don't get why police need to use force to be, like, hit us" - Stephen Minshaw speaking to @Channel7. Three people have been arrested after an out of control beach party spilled onto the streets. #LittleBay #7News pic.twitter.com/98VVt809F6
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) December 25, 2017
Other social media users responded to the footage by labelling the police response “unnecessarily violent”, “ridiculous” and going “way too far”.
A police spokeswoman said she wasn’t able to comment on the videos or police tactics.
Quick action from @nswpolice helped shut down a drunken beach party of 3,000 backpackers yesterday at Little Bay Beach. A big thank you to local residents and Council workers who cleared 40 bags of rubbish incl broken bottles in just a few hours. Info: https://t.co/WNjnwiBdOX pic.twitter.com/vJthUXVU04
— Randwick Council (@RandwickCouncil) December 26, 2017
Last week Eastern Beaches police posted a warning on Facebook about alcohol-free zones at all local beaches.
Randwick City Council had introduced tighter alcohol restrictions for Christmas, police said, and anyone who was caught risked a maximum fine of A$2,200 (US$1,700).