Hoorah! The Liberal Government plan on lifting the lockout laws they introduced in order to resurrect Sydney’s night life and economy.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced they will abolish the 1:30am Lockout across the CBD. This however does not include Kings Cross.
“It’s time to enhance Sydney’s night-life … we need to step it up,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The Liberal Government introduced the Lockout Laws in 2014, following the tragic deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie, both men died in sickening one punch attacks in Kings Cross.
Although these laws were supposedly implemented to protect people, it instead damaged Sydney’s nightlife. Due to these Lockout Laws sweeping Sydney’s CBD, it is estimated that 200 venues closed down, many of which were nightlife darlings for Sydney’s locals and tourists alike.
What about Kings Cross?
Kings Cross has often been an enemy of the Government, with the suburb being where most of the violence has occurred in the past. Following the announcement of the suspension of lockout laws, Gladys’ said that this would not include Kings Cross, due to its history of ‘bloodshed’.
Kings Cross was once the heartbeat of Sydney’s nightlife, with a buzzing atmosphere. The two tragic deaths had an imminent impact with the Premier at the time Barry O’Farrell dropping unapologetic Lockout Laws. Five years on from these laws, Kings Cross is a completely different place, with some of their iconic venues closing down. Now with the relaxing of these laws across the CBD, it is unfair on people in Kings Cross.
These Lockout Laws
“From a business perspective, it’s really anti-competition, it’s quite ridiculous to draw a line, one bar has lockouts the other one doesn’t, on the other side of the road.” Said Tyson Koh from Keep Sydney Open.
Why kill lockouts now?
For years now, the Liberal Government has received backlash over the maligned Lockout Laws, but why now are they so eager to scrap them? Berejiklian has come out stating that Sydney needs to improve its nightlife, as Sydney is Australia’s “Global City”.
“Sydney is Australia’s only global city and we need our night-life to reflect that.” Berejiklian said.
Along with this, Berejiklian also believes that it will be much safer for people to travel to different venues, due to the changes to transport and the imminent Light Rail.
Could the abolishment of the lockout laws be linked with the Casinos? With the new Crown Casino slowly getting closer to completion, it’s not outlandish to consider these lockout laws are in place to keep people out and push them towards the casinos. On the 10th of August, Sydney billionaire developer, nightclub and bar owner, Justin Hemmes, spoke to a parliamentary inquiry into the city’s night time economy. In this speech, Hemmes pleaded that Sydney needed to be open 24/7.
“We need to unlock Sydney’s full potential and establish and promote a 24 hour vibrant and safe city.” Hemmes stated.
Convenient that the man that successfully secured 46 CBD venues has only now spoken out against the Lockout Laws by encouraging the Liberal Government to loosen their laws; exclusively in the central business district, of course.
Shall we consider this a plea from someone truly concerned for Sydney’s devolving nightlife, or call it how it is: negotiations over a money bag.
The People who fought for Sydney’s Night Life
While we celebrate this victory, its important to remember those who fought hard for change.
In February 2014, Keep Sydney Open launched as a movement in order to combat the harsh lockout laws set out by Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell. Keep Sydney Open organised multiple marches and protests in the CBD. In 2016, 15,000 people flocked from Belmore Park to Hyde Park to protest the Lockout Laws. After a successful run as a movement, Keep Sydney Open became a Political Party in 2018. After five years of campaigning, it looks as if it’s finally beginning to pay off.
Along with Keep Sydney Open, FIB Director Paul Roberts released a feature length documentary exposing the truth behind lockout laws. After The Lockouts: The Search for Sydney’s Missing Nightlife shed a light on the problems that came with Lockout Laws.
FIB interviewed many business owners who were forced to close their pubs and clubs. These business owners argued that these laws are bad for our economy and tourism. Along with business owners, we spoke to nightgowers as they discussed Sydney’s fall from a buzzing city, to a quiet one. After receiving wide appeal and critical acclaim, a special sequel is set to be released soon.
Take a look at the trailer for FIB’s special sequel documentary, After The Lockouts: Gladys’ War On Music down below.
With Lockout Laws seemingly set to be abolished, maybe Sydney’s heart will start beating again. Yet, it’s hard to ignore the immense damage that has already been done to Sydney’s nightlife.
What do you think about the Liberal Governments consideration of the Lockout Laws? Let us know in the comments down below!