By Andy Young, editor TheShout
Bruce Solomon, the CEO of pub and bar group Solotel, has blasted the Sydney lockout laws, saying that they have destroyed part of what the city is all about.
Speaking at the 2015 Australian Hotels Association NSW Awards for Excellence at The Star on Tuesday night, Solomon said that the laws leave tourists to the harbour city “scratching their heads” wondering why there is not a late-night precinct.
Solomon was speaking after he was inducted into the AHA NSW Hall of Fame and he told those at the Awards that he is a third generation publican, that his son and daughter are in the business and that his great-niece is now working at the Clock Hotel in Sydney.
He went on to say: “Our family has been in Kings Cross since 1938 and I’d like to say a few things about Kings Cross. The one big change that I have seen in the industry is that regulation has been a one-way street in this state, and it’s really upsetting to see how there has been a political kicking campaign about Kings Cross.
“The stats are, that yes, violence has dropped by 40 per cent in the Cross since the lockouts came in. But the other side of the coin is that there used to be 25000 people there on a Saturday night at two in the morning and now there are 3000. There is an 85 per cent drop in the number of people in the Cross.
“So it is small wonder that there is less violence out there, it has impacted on the whole of the area. So many small businesses have closed down; the shops up there are all up for lease; the hairdressers have been affected; the chemists have been affected; the take-away foods have been affected; the whole industry has been affected by this change.
“I think when history looks at what has happened in the Cross, I think a lot of people will say ‘what a mistake it was that we have completely destroyed one part of our culture’. We have completely destroyed one part of what Sydney is all about.
“It is something that when tourists come to Sydney and they scratch their heads and say ‘why isn’t there a late-night precinct? Whatever happened to Kings Cross?’.
“I suppose the thing they can do is they can always go down to Melbourne, because the people in Melbourne can be trusted. The people in Melbourne are responsible. The people in Melbourne must be very different to us people in New South Wales, because they can have 24-hour trading, but here we just can’t have it because we can’t be trusted by our government.”
Solomon added: “But you know, I don’t want to concentrate on the negatives. I’m accused often by the people who I work that I think about the worst case scenario too much. So I want to talk about the great thing in this industry.
“Despite the regulation it is the most wonderful industry because it has the most fabulous people in it. It is a people industry, it’s an industry where people like having fun and it’s an industry where people are warm and hospitable. It’s a young industry, it’s dynamic and it’s exciting and there are some fantastic things happening in the industry. And I am so proud to be part of it.
“I am very honoured that the AHA have given me this award and I want to thank AHA for this. I feel humbled by this award and I am going to keep on doing what I do for a long time, I hope. I love what I do and I love the people I work with and I just want to say thank you very much.”