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A Bill to Scrap the Lockout Laws Is Going Before Parliament on Thursday

If it's passed, it could mean good things for Sydney's ailing nightlife.
By Libby Curran
October 24, 2018
By Libby Curran
October 24, 2018

There's a small chance Sydney's main nightlife woes could soon be a thing of the past, with a bill to remove the city's ever-problematic lockout laws set to go before Parliament this Thursday, October 25.

A proposal by MP Robert Borsak, of the Shooters, Farmers and Fishers Party, will be put before the Legislative Council at around 11am tomorrow. Mr Borsak, who said in a Facebook post that the lockouts are "killing our city", is hoping to have the support of the Berejiklian Government, after reports earlier this month that Deputy Premier John Barilaro also wanted the laws scrapped by the end of the year.

While the specifics of this bill are yet to be revealed, nightlife lobby collective Keep Sydney Open is hoping it's a strong step towards saving the city's ailing night time economy. The existing laws, which force 1.30am lockouts on venues in the CBD and some surrounding areas, were brought into effect back in 2014, as part of a suite of liquor law reforms by the NSW Government. Their aim was to curb booze-related violence.

Last year the laws were relaxed slightly, with 20 or so venues in Kings Cross and the CBD granted an 'exemption' on the grounds that they provide legitimate live entertainment. This pushed last drinks for these venues from 3am to 3.30am and lockout from 1.30am to 2am.

But between the time the laws began and May this year, figures from Liquor & Gaming NSW show that 418 licensed premises had shut up shop in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross — closures that many in Sydney's hospitality, music and nightlife industries attribute directly to the legislation.

"The effect on culture, small business and our civil liberties has been undeniable. We feel patronised — like our city has been taken away from us," explains Tyson Koh, spokesperson for Keep Sydney Open. "This is our chance to reinforce at this crucial time how deeply despised these laws are and how they have crippled Sydney."

If you'd like to show your support for scrapping the lockout laws, you can join the Keep Sydney Open: Bye By Lockouts rally happening at the top of Martin Place on Macquarie Street, before making its way up to Parliament House. The exact meeting time will be announced on Keep Sydney Open's Facebook page, as soon as parliament's order of business for the day is announced.

The Shooters, Farmers and Fishers Party is, of course, a minor party, so it's hard to say how much support the bill will get in parliament. The party has two members in the upper house, where the bill be introduced, and only one in the lower house — so it will need to win the support of the Berejiklian Government to get the bill through both houses and made into law. Nonetheless, this will give the members of the Legislative Council a chance to explain their views on the lockout laws to their constituents and Sydney's small business owners — that is, those that have been most affected by the lockouts. We'll keep you updated on what happens in parliament this week.


UPDATE: OCTOBER 25, 2018 — This article previously stated that the Shooters, Farmers and Fishers Party had no seats in the NSW lower house, when it in fact has one member, Robert Borsack. The article has been amended to reflect this.

Image: Kimberley Low.

Published on October 24, 2018 by Libby Curran


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