Lord Mayor Clover Moore has put her support behind Sydney’s live music venues, calling that they be exempt from the lockout law.
In an article titled “It’s time we grew up and ditched the one-size-fits-all-lockout” and published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 3 April, the Lord Mayor described the NSW Government’s “blanket lockout” with its “inexplicable exemption for the casino” as “sledgehammer, when what we needed was a well-researched, evidence-based, flexible response using transport, planning, licensing and police.”
She acknowledges that the lockout has improved safety in some areas, like Kings Cross, but points out that Sydney’s cultural life and late-night businesses have suffered financially. As Music Australia reported in March, live music ticket sales have dropped 40% since the lockout was introduced in February 2014. Many venues have closed down and the well-known Oxford Art Factory has endured a 30% revenue loss.
Consequently, the Lord Mayor states that the City’s submission to the NSW Government’s Liquor Law Review recommends that “live music and performance venues”, as well as other “well-managed licensed venues” should be exempt from the 1.30am lockout, and that the 3am “last drinks” rule should apply to venues on a case-by-case basis, pending consideration of “compliance history, planning controls and economic, social and environmental factors”.
In addition, the submission argues that, in order to prevent future anti-social behaviour, “saturation zone” rules should be applied to busy areas, like Kings Cross, to manage growth and concentration of venues, and that Sydney needs more late-night public transport.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, the Lord Mayor said, “It’s about balance. It’s about enabling people to go out safely in a rich and diverse night life that you have in a global city.”
The Liquor Law Review is now underway, under the leadership of former High Court judge Ian Callinan, and is due to completed in August. The deadline for submissions was 4 April.
Following mass protests against the lockout laws, which saw more than 15,000 people rally in Sydney’s streets in February, the NSW Government offered to host three roundtables. The first was held on 31 March, the second is scheduled for 28 April and the third will happen on 19 May. Participants include the live music industry, Keep Sydney Open, Uber, medical professionals, the hotel lobby, youth organisations and various government agencies, including those representing the NSW Police and St Vincent’s Hospital.