Lockout Laws Repeal Introduced Into Parliament
A renewed push for the overhaul of Sydney's controversial nightlife lockout laws will be introduced in parliament on Thursday, an unlikely alliance between conservative MPs and cultural champions.
The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party have introduced a bill into NSW state parliament which would repeal the much-debated legislation, which mandate a 1.30am lockout time for bars and clubs. The laws also place a restriction on takeaway alcohol sales.
The laws were introduced in 2014 in response to a spate of alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney, but did not apply to the Star casino in the city.
Opponents of the laws said the restrictions were a lethal blow to the city's nightlife and entertainment industries, and have been blamed for the demise of dozens of clubs and music venues.
The Keep Sydney Open movement launched to protest the lockout laws, with thousands of people flooding streets and public areas in a number of large protests.
The restrictions have been slightly eased in recent times after a review found alcohol-related violence had decreased, but Keep Sydney Open wanted to see the laws overturned completely.
Shooters party MP Robert Borsak planned to introduce his Liquor Legislation Amendment (Repeal of Lock-Out Laws) Bill 2018 on Thursday, coinciding with another Keep Sydney Open rally outside state parliament. The amendment would remove the 1.30am lockout time, but keep the 3am last drinks in place.
Borsak said his party had supported the lockouts when first proposed in 2014, but that the measures were no longer needed.
"We all did vote for the lockout... there were a couple of terrible deaths on the streets. But we're well past that."
"What we need to do is think about the what the effect on Sydney this has brought about," Borsak said.
"What we've seen is a dead city. It's not alive at night, the music venues are gone, nearly 180 small businesses have disappeared. We think it's high time the government stop locking out, stop banning, stop seeking to rule Sydney."
"There are other ways and means by which this can be done."
Following a rally outside state parliament, Borsak told ten daily he would eventually like to see Sydney venues able to operate 24 hours a day, but that this current proposal would not seek to amend the current 3am restriction.
Sydney DJ Tori Levett spoke at the rally. She said the current restrictions had seriously hurt the city's nightlife, particularly the music scene, curbing the ability of musicians to play live and build their careers.
"Sydney is famous all over the world as the home town to some of the biggest dance music acts," Levett said.
"But there won't be another Flume, there won't be another RUFUS, if there aren't the venues to perform, meet agents, meet labels, meet other DJs, and have a community."
Keep Sydney Open's Lyanoosh Reporter told ten daily the introduction of the push to repeal the lockouts was a "momentous" day for the movement.
"We've been doing this for almost five years now. It really is a cause for celebration, a sign of how far we’ve come," he said.
"It's not only the bill itself, but it's a symbolic moment regardless of how politics plays out, which reflects the fact we’ve passed the tipping point of public opinion on this issue."
Hundreds turned out for the snap rally outside parliament, with speakers including Borsak, Greens MP Jenny Leong and independent member Alex Greenwich.
KSO's Reporter said that while repealing the lockouts was the original aim of the protest movement, it was "just the beginning" for how to address and support Sydney's nightlife and cultural sector.
"Repealing the lockouts without replacing them with a coherent strategy is reckless," he said.
"[That includes] transport, policing, liquor licensing overhaul, more cultural and retail and other offerings at night that don't revolve around alcohol. Thats the vision that needs to happen. Repealing lockouts on their own is reckless, and will land us back where we were."
"It’s a positive step, but we need to turn the heat up, it’s not a done deal."
More to come.