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Industry reps, politicians urge lock-out laws axing

An inquiry into Sydney’s night time economy has highlighted support from politicians including lord mayor Clover Moore and industry professionals for the scrapping of controversial lock-out laws.

The number of live music venues in Sydney has halved since the New South Wales (NSW) government introduced lock-out laws in 2014. The regulations restrict last entry to 1.30 a.m. and drinks licensing to 3 a.m. at bars, pubs, clubs and music venues in Sydney’s central business district (CBD) entertainment precinct.

Following an independent review in 2016, the NSW government relaxed regulations by half an hour for live entertainment venues.

The legislation was introduced following an increase in alcohol-related violence and antisocial behaviour in the city centre.

Speaking at a night time economy committee meeting, the city’s lord mayor Moore stated that “Sydney has lost its reputation over the five years following the introduction of the lock-out laws and associated measures.”

Moore said the laws have had a “devastating impact” on the city’s nightlife and night time economy.

The problem, according to Moore, lies in the failure to distinguish between well run and badly run venues.

“If the lockout laws are removed – we are recommending that they should be – we would be able to incentivise well-run venues, and penalise poorly-run venues”

“If the lockout laws are removed – we are recommending that they should be – we would be able to incentivis[e] well run venues, and penalis[e] poorly run venues,” Moore told the committee.

Live Nation Australasia chief executive, Roger Field, showed his support for the removal of lock-out laws at the close of the hearing on Monday 12 August.

Field referenced the “reputational damage” caused by the lock-out laws “both in Australia and internationally”, based on feedback from artists and their international touring team.

Justin Hemmes, owner of Australian hospitality giant the Merivale Group which operates venues including RNB Fridays, Ministry of Sound, Chinese Laundry and the Beresford, has also weighed in on the issue.

Originally an advocate for the regulations, Hemmes stated the laws “must go now”, adding that the measures had become an “embarrassment” for the city and its nightlife.

The parliamentary committee will report the conclusions of the hearing to NSW premier Galdys Berejiklian in September.


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