The lobby group Keep Sydney Open has this week announced that it is calling an “urgent rally for Sunday 9 October to save Sydney’s nightlife”.
According to the group, Justice Ian Callinan’s review into the lockout laws endorsed Keep Sydney Open’s position that “the vibrancy and economy of Sydney has been damaged as a result of the lockout laws”. This is contrary to the message being pushed by politicians and conservative commentators that lockouts have had no effect on the vibrancy of the city and the local economy.
Keep Sydney Open’s Tyson Koh says that the report is a vindication.
“It’s good to finally hear what Sydneysiders have already known for a long time, that these laws are putting Sydney’s reputation as a dynamic, international city at risk,” he says. “We shouldn’t have to settle for lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key policy solutions, when only an hour’s flight away Melbourne has created a safe and dynamic nightlife with a cool-headed smart policy.”
While Keep Sydney Open welcomes the review’s recommendation to relax lockout and cease of service times, it says that, given the severe threat to Sydney’s cultural life and night time economy, a trial extension of the lockout by “a mere thirty minutes” is not enough to save Sydney’s reputation or those businesses that are on the brink of closure.
“With each passing day the lockouts are in place, Sydney’s cultural life is damaged, small businesses are jeopardised and our internationally recognised artistic talent is finding it harder to be paid for their work,” says Koh. “A thirty minute extension misses the point, that Sydney wants policy that encourages safe and vibrant nightlife at any time. Major cities around the world can do it and we can too.
“In February, 15,000 Sydneysiders joined us on the streets to demand smart policy solutions, and they’ve made it clear to us that we must keep fighting for Sydney’s nightlife.”
Keep Sydney Open will hold a rally on 9 October to demand the NSW State Government act to address the damage to vibrancy and the local economy outlined in Justice Callinan’s report.
Keep Sydney Open recommends evidence based policy, including but limited to:
1. Developing best-practice policing strategies;
2. Investing in 24/7 public transport;
3. Implementing integrated urban planning reform;
4. Encouraging diversification of after-dark activities;
5. Establishing anti-violence education & intervention campaigns;
6. Incentivising well-run venues; and
7. Appointing a Night Mayor or similar.
Keep Sydney Open recommends the lifting of the 1.30am lockout, the lifting of 3am cease of service and takeaway liquor sales to midnight and the removal of the freeze of liquor license applications in inner-city entertainment districts, in conjunction with the above.
Says Mr Koh: “We will work with the government and relevant stakeholders in any way we can to improve the living standard of all Sydneysiders.”