NSW Vibrancy Reforms promise relief for bars

The NSW Government has announced its Vibrancy Reforms, which aim to boost night-time entertainment zones and live music, with many key industry bodies welcoming the proposals.

The package of reforms will be introduced to Parliament and contain a raft of measures that are designed to reduce red-tape and over-regulation and stimulate a vibrant, diverse and safe night-time economy.

The Vibrancy Reforms begin to address an array of hurdles faced by industry while building upon the NSW Liquor Amendment (Night-time Economy) Act 2020. The reforms include:

  • Establishing Liquor and Gaming NSW as the sole regulator of entertainment sound-related complaints for licensed premises, to streamline the complaints process from a current duplicative and multiple agency approach.
  • Expanding the success of the Enmore Road Special Entertainment Precinct to other areas via a new framework for councils that makes it easier for them to deliver vibrant, safe going-out destinations supported by adequate and reliable transport and good lighting.
  • Permanently replacing the rules for outdoor dining allowing venues to make the most of their outdoor space with a quicker, light-touch application process.
  • Empowering the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner to develop a plan to make NSW a better place to work for those who don’t work nine-to-five.
  • Adopting a common-sense approach to risk in relation to liquor regulation, removing outdated rules, and beginning work to streamline planning and licensing processes. This includes improving the consultation process to make it easier for venues to open and diversify, and for communities to have their say, plus meaningful incentives for venues to feature live music and performances.
  • Empowering the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner to deliver a sustainable, thriving night-time economy by making the role a statutory appointment.

The Independent Bars Association’s (IBA) President Karl Schlothauer says the reforms are a clear statement from the NSW Government that the night-time economy of NSW is a key priority for the state’s success.

“The Vibrancy Reforms announced by the NSW Government herald the beginning of a new era for the night-time economy in NSW.

“It is great to see the Government, come good on their election commitment by making the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner’s role a statutory appointment, having a permanent body within government championing the night is not only a good thing for industry it also great for locals and visitors to our wonderful state.

“If NSW is going to realise the full potential of these reforms they need to trickle down and be adopted by all local governments especially out in the regions.

“The regulatory landscape that independent and small operators have to navigate is complex, contains duplication and inefficiencies and a lack of clarity across the different regulatory authorities. This is a good step in helping streamline the process and provide a bit of clarity for our members about who does what.

“The IBA and its members look forward to engaging and consulting with Government and regulators as the reforms are implemented.”

Michael Rodrigues, the NSW 24-Hour Economy Commissioner said: “This reform package is a fantastic step towards enhancing the night-time offerings across our city, and the state. The state has changed a lot in the past decade but the problem is the regulations have not and they don’t reflect what people expect from a modern going out experience.

“We’re on a mission to remove unnecessary burden on venues so that they can focus more on customer experience and spend less time battling red tape. We want to create a more flexible environment for trading – to allow outdoor dining when the weather calls for it. Music into the wee hours when your favourite band comes to town. To shut streets for festivals that bring the community together, without wasting time and money on unnecessary and duplicative processes. But none of these changes should come at the expense of public safety which remains the core objective of my Office.

“And a main regulator for noise complaints for licensed premises is a better outcome for venues as well as the community. The current system doesn’t serve anyone well.

“I want to thank the many industry experts who have helped us shape the reform package. It’s now up to parliament to make the call on whether we can get it across the line in time for summer.”

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