For years it looked like Australians could not give a Castlemaine XXXX for their rising tide of alcohol-related violence. Then, a decade ago, one city called time, literally.

Newcastle in New South Wales imposed what were quickly dubbed “last drinks” laws. Local licensing chiefs moved to shorten opening hours for pubs, clubs, and crucially, hotels.

Some drinkers were allowed to stay in their hotels. But they had a “lockout”; they could keep drinking where they were but not go elsewhere.

The result was both instant and lasting. A University of Newcastle study found assaults quickly dropped by more than one-third in 18 months. They stayed down. The city centre’s assault rate is now half of what it was in 2008.

COMMENT: How Scotland's licensing boards may look to Australia 

Australian media started talking about a “Newcastle solution”. Other New South Wales cities experimented with licensing restrictions.

The changes in opening times were modest. Some 13 pubs in the Newcastle’s central business were told to shut their doors at 3am instead of 4.30am or 5am. So-called lockouts came in to force at 1am or 1.30am.

Supporters of the scheme said that the new laws were good for business too: more premises became licensed to serve alcohol.

But some business leaders are not happy. Australian licensed traders have secured a snap review of the entire policy – a move described by the president of the New South Wales Police Association, Scott Weber, as a “complete capitulation” to the “booze lobby”.

Mr Weber told the Newcastle Herald: “The Newcastle liquor laws are a case study in how effective liquor regulation can transform violent, blood-soaked streets into a vibrant nightlife precinct that families and people of all ages can enjoy.”

Research shows that the decade-old laws had led to a “significant and sustained” 31 per cent reduction in serious alcohol-related facial injury assault cases at a local hospital.

More detailed reading of crime statistics for Newcastle shows a particular change at weekends. There was a 64 per cent drop in non-domestic assault cases for Friday and Saturday nights between 2007-08 and 2014-15. Numbers reduced for malicious damage, disorderly conduct and theft.

The coalition added: “There has been a 110 per cent increase in the number of licensed premises, mostly small bars and licensed restaurants, which has significantly increased local jobs in the industry.

“A Newcastle City Council survey found overwhelming community and patron support for the measures. The Newcastle suite of modest restrictions to trading hours has been recognised internationally as a model for sustained crime reduction.”

COMMENT: How Scotland's licensing boards may look to Australia 

Global alcohol experts have stressed the importance of reducing alcohol consumption – falling in Australia and in Scotland – by imposing controls on price, availability and marketing.

Indeed, the pioneering Australian work was outlined as part of an international Violence Prevention Conference held in Glasgow at the end of November.

In Scotland, ministers hope that the introduction of minimum unit pricing – a world first which will come into force in May – will have a major impact.

Will Linden, acting director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, has described the move as a "historic moment" for Scotland.

"As a country we are taking real steps towards addressing the devastating damage drink has done to our health and communities," he said.

"Far too often it is access to cheap high proof alcohol which fuels violence on our streets and in our homes. Targeting the lowest price alcohol will help tackle many of the challenges we face."

Ireland and Northern Ireland are looking to adopt a Scottish model. Russia last month said it would extend its minimum pricing scheme – and is considering a law applying the same restrictions to tobacco.

Australia has focused more on availability, with alcohol usually only sold in specialist shops or pubs, clubs and hotels. Canada and Nordic nations also restrict off-sales. Australia is also facing a backlash from sports clubs over new restrictions on alcohol advertising and marketing currently under discussion.

COMMENT: How Scotland's licensing boards may look to Australia 

About one in five countries globally ban alcohol advertising on TV. Ireland is currently introducing restrictions on such adds, in the same bill introducing minimum pricing. So is Estonia and Lithuania, one of the world’s heaviest-drinking nations, which has just lifted its minimum drinking age to 20.