The controversial 1:30am lockouts are expected to be lifted in the CBD entertainment district, which includes Oxford Street, in an effort to strengthen the night-time economy, according to the NSW Premier. Sadly though, they will remain in place for Kings Cross.
The legislation was introduced in 2014 with the aim of reducing alcohol-fuelled violence, particularly in Kings Cross, after the two coward-punch deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the city’s night-life needs to be resurrected for the sake of jobs but community safety will always be the primary focus.
“Sydney is Australia’s only global city and we need our night-life to reflect that.”
Ms Berejiklian said changes to transport, specifically the upcoming CBD light rail, will make it safer for people to travel to and from bars and clubs. But the Premier said she would not support any changes to restrictions in Kings Cross due to the history of bloodshed.
The announcement precedes a report due to be released in coming weeks by a joint parliamentary committee into Sydney’s night-time economy. “I’m more than happy to relax or even repeal the laws depending on the committee’s findings … but [they] have demonstrated we need to find a better balance,” Ms Berejiklian said. She said she will consult with her colleagues before a final decision is made.
The proposed change has prompted an outpouring of relief from venue operators.
Oxford Art Factory owner Mark Gerber said “good riddance” and believes the city could now look forward to a rebirth. “[It felt] like living in East Berlin under Stasi control, not in sunny old Sydney town,” he said. “Let’s do this Sydney … I’m overjoyed.”
Veteran singer Jenny Morris told the committee Sydney had become a “laughing stock” but St Vincent’s Hospital said they had not seen one alcohol-related assault death since the laws rolled out.
When former premier Barry O’Farrell introduced the sweeping changes, he said they were tough but he made “no apologies”. The Police Association of New South Wales said the measures were exactly what the city of Sydney needed.
Lockout and curfew measures introduced to Newcastle in 2008, a significantly smaller city with a smaller night-time economy in comparison to Sydney, resulted in a 36 per cent drop in assaults.
Source: ABC News