Sydney lockout laws could be lifted by year-end

Reports the CBD could see lockout laws removed but Kings Cross excluded

Publicans and operators may breathe a big sigh of relief if reports that Sydney’s devastating lockout laws may be rolled back by the end of the year prove true.

While there has been no official confirmation, it’s been widely reported overnight that Deputy Premier John Barilaro urged colleagues at a recent cabinet meeting to back him in scrapping the controversial 1:30am lockouts in Sydney’s CBD.

Barilaro is believed to be acting to alleviate the major impact on businesses in the night-time economy already suffering a double whammy with construction along the light rail route but no official comment has been made.

Responding to reports, AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green told Australian Hotelier:

“Five years on, it’s reasonable that we look at revising the lockout and revitalising the night-time economy.

“Sydney is a global city and we need to support all well-run businesses in the CBD.

“Details are vague at the moment but we are keen to work with Government, police and council on this issue.

“Blanket measures like the lockout are a blunt instrument that treat all venues the same, no matter how well they are run. Legislation is already available to deal with recalcitrant venues – there’s no need for all venues to be tarred with the same brush,” said Green.

Meanwhile Time Out Australia Managing Director Michael Rodrigues said:

“There is no argument Sydney’s reputation as a global city and premier tourist destination has taken a big hit over the last few years. 176 venues have closed since the laws started. There have been countless job losses across the creative arts, live music and hospitality sectors as a result.

“It would be great to see the Government come out and commit to supporting our night-time economy and encouraging people to get off their couches and go out.

“For Sydney to regain it’s former vibrancy, we need better balanced regulation to support the arts, culture, entertainment, hospitality, live music and retail sectors. Revision to lock out is a good start, but beyond that red-tape and over-regulation around noise, for example, are suffocating the city. Up to seven different government departments have jurisdiction in respect of noise complaints.”

Reports suggest the Kings Cross area will be excluded from any change to the lockout laws, likely to leave operators there reeling from this missed opportunity.

Speaking to Australian Hotelier, Solotel’s CEO Justine Baker welcomed the proposal, but said:

“The exclusion of Kings Cross in the proposal I believe sees the NSW Government missing an opportunity to reignite Sydney’s nightlife. Kings Cross adds diversity to the CBD offering through its various hospitality and live entertainment spaces. Lifting the lockout laws across Sydney ensures it once again has a thriving night time economy for our musicians, residents and tourists.”

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