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Archaic Sydney Liquor Licence Laws Governing Live Music Are Set to Be Scrapped Next Month

A new amendment will remove restrictions on the genres of music that can be played in certain venues, and also make it easier for venues to apply for their licenses.
By Ben Hansen
November 21, 2020
By Ben Hansen
November 21, 2020

Dance floors may currently feel like a distant memory for Sydneysiders, with clubs and bars being restricted to seated patrons since reopening in May. When it's time for us to meet again on the dance floor once again, however, changes to NSW liquor laws are set to make live music and dancing easier for venues to facilitate.

The new amendment, which passed through NSW Parliament on Tuesday, November 17, is called the Liquor Amendment (24-Hour Economy) Bill 2020 — and it will remove several outdated restrictions, allowing venues to host live music with fewer overbearing limitations. Some of the outmoded restrictions named in the bill include limits on what genre music can be played, which venues can host a dance floor or what kind of decorations a venue can have. This means we'll hopefully see a lot more disco balls and thriving dance floors post-COVID-19.

A 2018 parliamentary inquiry into the state's music and nightlife industry found that 669 NSW venues were subject to these "archaic" conditions — which have seen Surry Hills venue Goros being forced to remove its mirror ball as it would encourage dancing, the Terrigal Hotel being barred from having "rock music" performances and the South Dubbo Tavern being restricted to booking only cover bands.

These examples were given by the Shadow Minister for Music and the Night Time Economy John Graham when he introduced a similar bill — called Liquor Amendment (Right to Play Music) Bill 2020 — in late September.


The bill is expected to make it easier for venues to apply for licences, and to reward those with clean records with ongoing discounted fees. Laws surrounding small bars, alcohol delivery services and outdoor venues have also been eased as part of the amendment, including temporary powers given to local councils to encourage the use of outdoor spaces for dining and performances.

The government is hoping this bill will help revitalise the live music and night-time economy following a year in which venues have struggled and some have closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Speaking on the bill, Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said "the economy doesn't go to sleep after dark and we need laws that cater for a 21st-century economy. The hospitality sector has been brought to its knees this year and the new laws will give the sector greater certainty and flexibility."

The Liquor Amendment (24-Economy) Bill 2020 passed NSW Parliament on Tuesday, November 17, and is predicted to come into effect from Tuesday, December 1.

Top image: Frankies by Katje Ford.

Published on November 21, 2020 by Ben Hansen
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