Submissions for the review into lockout laws are due today, and this one – coming in at the 11th hour – is a treat.
It’s from the City of Sydney themselves, who arguably have the most swing in this thing. They’ve outlined 31 recommendations that would pretty much reverse the lockout laws and put in measures to achieve what was the aim all along: reducing alcohol-related violence.
They include a 12-month trial exemption from the 1:30am lockout for well-managed premises and live music venues, a reconsideration of the 3am ‘last drinks’ rule depending on the venue’s compliance history, planning controls and local factors, and replacing the existing liquor license freeze with new ‘saturation zone’ rules that take into account how the local area would manage another venue (including existing number of licensed premises, relevant crime data, and transport options).
They also take a leaf out of Melbourne‘s book (finally) and recommend that train services be extended on Friday and Saturday nights *after* venue closing times, so people can get home quickly, safely, and without falling victim to the 3am taxi changeover or Uber‘s surge pricing. (Seriously. Who thought this was ever a good idea?)
In a statement announcing the recommendations, Lord Mayor Clover Moore absolutely savaged the lockout laws.
“The City spent year trying to get successive State Governments to respond to a worsening situation in the Cross,” she said. “We knew what the problem was – too many venues in one area, lifetime liquor licenses that reduce accountability, and a planning system that doesn’t recognise when an area has become a problem.
“Rather than addressing the real problems, the NSW Government’s response was to introduce a blanket lockout across the city centre and Kings Cross (with an inexplicable exemption for the casino).
“It was a sledgehammer when what we needed was a well-researched, evidence based, flexible response using transport, planning, licensing and police.”
Goddamn fkn BOOYAH.
The once-thriving and now dying small bar scene – which Sydney has long prided itself on, and does it bloody well – also gets a look in, with a number of the recommendations aimed at reviving it. This includes extending base trading hours until 2am across NSW, doubling their capacity from 60 to 120 patrons, and slashing or removing altogether the hefty ‘trading hours loading fee’ (which is currently paid by all venues deemed to be ‘high-risk’).
In fact, the only major change the lockout laws brought that they’re aiming to keep is the 10pm cut-off time for bottle shops, as a measure to stop you sinking bulk-piss in your en-route pre-game.
Violent venues will experience a greater level of security, and face the risk of losing their liquor license for ongoing non-compliance or repping the ‘most violent venues’ list.
If all 31 recommendations were to be implemented, the City of Sydney would also recommend the NSW Government consider removing the 1:30am lockout for all venues.
“There is no doubt the lockout laws made some areas, especially Kings Cross, safer and returned normalcy to residents and that must not change,” said Moore.
“But the lockout law has hurt Sydney’s cultural life and had negative impacts on businesses, including live music venues, small bars and restaurants, and many people have lost their jobs.
“Well-managed late-trading premises are essential to out city’s cultural life and economic growth – and people need to feel safe, no one wants to wake up to blood and urine on their doorstep. We need to get both right.
“These exemptions, on a trial basis, based on evidence, and backed up by renewable licences, saturation controls and late night transport, will ensure we don’t return to the Kings Cross that was bloody and violent every weekend.”
Photo: Luke Reynolds / Getty.