Sydney’s controversial lock-out laws that destroyed the city’s nightlife could be abolished within a matter of months.
The laws, which have already seen the Kings Cross entertainment precinct wiped out in just four years, were introduced following a scare campaign led by the NSW Police Association after a string of one-punch attacks in 2014.
Despite none of the victims dying after midnight, the NSW Government folded to police and media pressure, with the then Premier Barry O’Farrell rushing through the draconian 1.30am curfew for licensed premises from Kings Cross to Pyrmont.
But now Nine News reports NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro is pushing to scrap the lock-out laws in the city completely.
The plan will not change the laws already in place in Sydney’s Kings Cross.
With a supportive cabinet, all that stands in the way of the change is the state’s Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, who is yet to come to a decision on the proposal.
They prevent patrons entering a venue after 1:30am and drinks are not served after 3:00am, and were introduced after a string of attacks and fights in the street.
The Police Association are opposed to any prospective changes to the law.
Police Association President Tony King said ‘the laws work, any politician that changes these simple laws will have blood on their hands.’
They claim the lock out laws have significantly reduced violence and crime in the city and Kings Cross.
While the laws were introduced to combat late night violence, they were widely ridiculed for punishing everyone in Sydney who enjoys a night out.
Despite consistent protests and pleas to lighten restrictions over the four years, the government have until now remained firm in their defense of the laws.
A nightlife panel was established in 2018, similar to those in New York and London, comprised of 15 professionals from the entertainment, hospitality, live music and business industries.
The group met with businesses and other government agencies to re-establish an after-hours scene, and re-ignite Sydney’s status as a 24-hour city, Broadsheet reported.
In response to continued industry lobbying, laws were amended in December of 2016 to allow small bars to operate until 2am without the need for security, as long as guests didn’t exceed 100 people.
This has seen an increase in the amount of small bars popping up within the city, as Sydney-siders change their drinking habits.
The panel continues to advocate for change and discover workarounds for the lockout laws.
‘It’s about viewing Sydney’s nightlife as a whole ecosystem and working out how it all connects, and possible ways small interventions could see significant change,’ the advocate for live music, Emily Collins, said.
‘A vibrant nightlife doesn’t have any one look. It’s 70-year-olds dancing in the street. It’s teenagers seeing their first live punk gig in a music venue. It’s new lovers seeing the sunrise after a night of dancing. It’s eating your favourite pasta at 3am in a crowded restaurant.’
‘It’s police pointing you in the right direction when you can’t find that awesome new music venue. It’s families cycling around the harbour after dinner. It’s buying a new book for your best friend when you finish work at 10pm. It’s being able to go out and it cost you less than $50. It’s about choosing to go out, to be with people, instead of staying home.’
Ms Berejiklian may be inclined to make a change in the laws ahead of the March 2019 state election.