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Lock-out law architect Mike Baird steps down

Mike Baird, who as premier of New South Wales (NSW) was responsible for the introduction of Sydney’s disastrous lock-out laws, has announced his retirement.

In a statement released this morning, Baird (pictured) – nicknamed ‘Casino Mike’ by critics, in reference to his exempting Star Casino from the controversial curfew – said his six years in office have been characterised by a “rejuvenated [state] economy”, the creation of jobs “in unprecedented numbers” and an “infrastructure boom in Sydney and the regions, which everyone can see with their own eyes”.

Campaign group Keep Sydney Open, however – which last month slammed Baird for his “paltry” 30-minute extension of the curfews – says the premier’s chief legacy will be a Sydney with its “international reputation tarnished, and its vibrancy, energy and positivity diminished. Inner-city small businesses have been devastated, and crashing gate receipts for music and performance in the state of NSW threaten the future of the cultural life of the state.”

“Sydney is ready to be revitalised with smart solutions to guarantee fun, culture, economic opportunity and safety for all of us. We are ready to work with the new leader of the government to achieve this”

It continues: “Now the NSW government has an exciting opportunity before it. Sydney is ready to be revitalised with smart solutions to guarantee fun, culture, economic opportunity and safety for all of us. We are ready to work with the new leader of the government to achieve this.

“Keep Sydney Open’s role in NSW will not be ending with the political career of Mike Baird. Far from it. While the lock-outs still prevail and Sydney’s confidence [is] at an all-time low, we will fight for vibrancy, colour and the small businesses in our community against any lawmakers who unfairly target them.”

The lock-out laws, which critics claim has crippled Sydney’s night-time economy with a 1.30am (later 2am) curfew, 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.

 


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Baird under fire for “paltry” lock-out extension

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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