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This NSW Parliamentary Inquiry Report Says Sydney's Lockout Laws Should Be Urgently Scrapped

It follows NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's announcement that she would support repealing the laws earlier this month.
By Lauren Vadnjal
September 30, 2019
By Lauren Vadnjal
September 30, 2019

Five years after Sydney's lockout laws were introduced by Liberal Premier Barry O'Farrell, it could be a Liberal Government that finally winds them back. The Parliament of NSW has this morning released its extensive review of the city's nighttime economy — and it looks like it could be the final nail in the coffin for the lockout laws.

The 126-page report makes 40 recommendations in total, most notably recommending that that the 2014 lockout laws be removed across the CBD, Darling Harbour, The Rocks, the top half of Surry Hills and Oxford Street with "appropriate urgency". The report says that the 1.30am lockout, bans on shots after midnight and the 3am closing time should all be lifted across licensed venues in this area.

The Kings Cross precinct won't be as lucky, with the report citing that it "requires a specific, nuanced approach" as it's a high-density area with a "high risk" that violence would increase again if the laws are lifted. It does, however, recommend that the lockout laws be reviewed again in 12 months.

The report also suggests that the sale of alcohol be extended until midnight Monday to Saturday (and 11pm on Sunday), extend the standard closing time of small bars until 2am a request for Transport for NSW look into 24-hour transport on weekends.

Frankies in the CBD, which would be affected by the lockout law change. Image: Katje Ford.

The parliamentary inquiry, which was first announced in May by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, was undertaken by a ten-member cross-party committee made up of politicians from both the upper and lower house, the NSW Government and cross-benchers. It considered close to 800 submissions from business owners and industry members including police, health, entertainment and live music stakeholders to make the reccommendations to the government.

While they are all just recommendations at this stage, it looks likely that the legislative changes to the lockout laws will be entered into parliament by the NSW Government. Plans to scrap the lockout laws (in terms that seem to reflect this report) were announced earlier this month by the Premier herself, who told The Daily Telegraph that "Sydney is Australia's only global city and we need our night-life to reflect that." And if the Coalition is bringing the motion to relax the lockout laws, it's likely it will be successful — especially as the Shooters, Farmers and Fishers Party has already expressed its support for scrapping them. You can check out the major parties' views on live music and the lockouts in our pre-election wrap-up.

The CBD's nightlife and live music scene has struggled under the stifling legislation — and has seen a reported 176 venues, including institutions like The Basement, close — the lifting of the lockout laws together with the City of Sydney's plans to introduce 24-hour trading to the CBD could mean big changes for the area. It won't change overnight, but the repeal of the lockout laws would allow Sydneysiders to head into CBD bars, pubs and nightclubs after 1.30am — and those same venues to remain open after 3am — while the City of Sydney is hoping to encourage the 24 hour trading of unlicensed CBD businesses.

Now it's over to the NSW Government to make the next move. We'll update you when we have any new info.

Top image: Kimberley Low.

Published on September 30, 2019 by Lauren Vadnjal


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