Thursday, 8 December 2016

Mike Baird's lockout laws 'too little, too late' for Sydney, The New Daily, 8 December, 2016.

Mike Baird’s lockout laws changes ‘too little, too late’ for Sydney

Sydney residents protest the lockout laws earlier in 2016. Photo: Getty
John Stapleton

The relaxation – by 30 minutes – of the widely despised lockout laws imposed on Sydney’s entertainment districts have been slammed as “too little, too late”.

The laws were introduced by former New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell in 2014 as one of his finals acts in answer to the deaths of two teenagers from ‘one-punch’ attacks.

Comprising a 1.30am lockout for all venues and a 3am final-drinks call, the laws have been blamed for the closure of numerous venues, the loss of hundreds of jobs, the death of Sydney’s nighttime economy and the destruction of its international reputation.

Sydney was recently labelled one of the world’s least-fun cities. Melbourne ranks as one of the best, and shows no signs of following Sydney’s lead.

On Thursday, with his popularity having dive-bombed partly as a result of his wowser reputation and perceived closeness to developers, NSW Premier Mike Baird took a halting step back from the abyss.

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The 1.30am lockout will be moved to 2am and last drinks extended to 3.30am for venues in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross that offer live entertainment or cultural events as part of a two-year trial.

Takeaway and home delivery alcohol sales will be also be extended from 10 pm to 11 pm across NSW.

Easing restrictions was one of the key recommendations of a review into the legislation overseen by former High Court judge Ian Callinan.

Mr Baird said, while the laws have been relaxed, they were here to stay.

“They have proven to be effective. If you look at the statistics, they show there’s been a 40 per cent reduction in violence in Kings Cross, 20 per cent across the CBD and there’s no doubt they have been saving lives,” he said.

“At the same time, there’s been strong views put that this has been an impact on live music and the vibrancy in this great city.”

The changes will come into effect in January.

8 Dec
The New Daily
✔ @TheNewDailyAu

Sydney’s controversial lockout laws to be relaxed: @KeepSydneyOpen


Keep Sydney Open @KeepSydneyOpen

@TheNewDailyAu 30 minutes. We consider this to be tokenism.
10:13 AM - 8 Dec 2016 · Sydney, New South Wales

11 Retweet
11 like

Keep Sydney Open campaign director Tyson Kol told The New Daily the government overreacted to a nonexistent problem, with violence rates on the decline for several years before the lockout laws.

“We are the laughing stock of the world in terms of nightlife,” Mr Kol said. “Thirty minutes is not going to do enough to restore confidence in Sydney as a nighttime destination or restore the music industry.”

He said the solution was to relax licensing laws across the city to encourage the spread of entertainment, as many cities around the world had done.

“There has been a lot of talk about the government agenda. Regardless of what their intentions were, it has played out in two short years as critics suggested.

“An entertainment precinct has been destroyed and prime real estate is up for development.”The once ‘sleazy’ Kings Cross has huge development potential.

Sydney Business Chamber executive director Patricia Forsythe welcomed the modification of lockout times as a step in the right direction.

She told The New Daily Sydney’s reputation has suffered internationally.

“Perception is everything and we have definitely taken a hit,” Ms Forsyth said. “The changes are cautious, moderate. We welcome them because, whether for tourists or the local population, it is vital we have a vibrant nighttime economy.”


Matt Barrie @matt_barrie

Premier @mikebairdMP must take the people and small businesses of sydney for idiots if he thinks 30 mins will do anything. #nswpol #auspol
10:03 AM - 8 Dec 2016 · Sydney, New South Wales


Gerardo Mazzella, a consultant to two of the remaining Kings Cross sex shops, McQueen’s Adult Concepts and The Pleasure Den, told The New Daily the lockout laws “just killed Sydney”.

“There is nothing there. The incidents were just an excuse. The lockout laws were clearly about real estate and nothing else,” Mr Mazella said.

Australia’s so-called ‘Porn King’ Con Ange told The New Daily the western side of Kings Cross had phenomenal views of Sydney, which obviously appealed to developers.

“Those views are worth millions. The lockout laws have already destroyed the Cross, every hotel and bar business up there. Thirty minutes is too little, too late.”Mike Baird’s lockout laws have been a hot button in NSW. Photo: AAP

Mr Callinan was appointed in February to provide an independent assessment of the liquor laws.

When he announced the review, Police Minister Troy Grant said it would be “open, genuine and transparent”.

But ahead of the review, Mr Baird wrote a Facebook post indicating he was reluctant to make any changes to the laws.

There will also be changes to the government’s “three-strikes” disciplinary policy for venues.

The government has proposed strikes be incurred by individual licensees rather than attaching to a venue’s licence. The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Board will determine strikes.

The freeze on new licences for venues such as hotels, clubs and bottle shops will also be extended until June 1, 2018 – however that does not apply to small bars.

Mr Grant said the government’s definition of a live entertainment venue did not include strip clubs.

“The famous artist that won about five ARIAs – Flume – who does wonderful music from that sort of operation, is absolutely live entertainment and will be the sort of live entertainment of offer,” he said.

“It’s for the venues to make that application to the secretary and see if it fits within that broader definition that we’ve created.”

-with ABC

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