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Baird under fire for “paltry” lock-out extension

Campaign group Keep Sydney Open is less than impressed with plans to trial later lock-outs, saying the premier is punishing the city "for the acts of a few bad apples"

By IQ on 08 Dec 2016

Mike Baird, New South Wales, Kate Ausburn

image © Kate Ausburn

The government of New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, has announced it is to relax slightly Sydney’s controversial ‘lock-out laws’, extending the curfew for the city’s venues and bars half an hour, to 2am.

“Venues,” reads an announcement, “that offer genuine live entertainment, live performances or art and cultural events will be able to take part in a two-year trial of a later 2am lockout and 3.30am last drinks” under the new regulations, as recommended by the recent Independent Liquor Law Review.

NSW premier Mike Baird (pictured) says he’s confident the changes will “further enhance nightlife in the precincts without undermining the essential purpose of the laws – which is to make the CBD [central business district] and [Kings] Cross places where people can enjoy a safe night out.”

Lock-out laws, which critics claim has crippled Sydney’s night-time economy, were passed following the deaths of Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie, two 18-year-olds who became the victims of what have become known as ‘one-punch’ assaults.

In August the Supreme Court of New South Wales found against the laws, ruling the state government lacked the authority to subject to the city to the 1.30 curfew. The NSW government has appealed and has yet to implement the court judgment, with Music Feeds reporting the government has asked Sydney’s venues and strip clubs to continue operating under the existing laws, despite the ruling.

Keep Sydney Open, a coalition of venues which campaigns against the laws, criticised the “token relaxation” and said Baird “continues to show utter disregard for the negative impacts of [his] poorly designed policy”.

“A paltry 30 minutes is not enough to revive struggling businesses, to bring back the jobs lost in the night-time economy or to restore vibrancy in our live music scene,” it said in a statement this morning, “and it’s certainly not enough to get this issue off the premier’s back. […]

“If the government was serious about safety, it would remove the lock-out everywhere but the casino, the most violent venue in NSW. Instead it has done the opposite. Meanwhile, the government has not invested a cent in a public anti-violence campaign, further putting Mike Baird’s sincerity on violence in doubt. Instead, he chooses to punish millions of people for the acts of a few bad apples. The hypocrisy has to stop.

“With a little imagination from our policymakers we can have a safe, diverse, inclusive and thriving city that abounds with opportunities – cultural, economic and otherwise – for each and every resident; not the select few.”


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