Old mate #casinomike Baird has been receiving a bit of a social media beatdown the past few days after his arguably condescending Facebook post justifying the lockout laws went viral in the worst way possible, becoming a punching bag for a city sick and tired of being treated like children.
No surprise then that he has gone into damage control overtime, appearing this morning on Nova FM breakfast show with Fitzy & Wippa, although with nothing new to say.
Trotting out the same statistics he used in the Facebook post, the same stats NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics Director labelled as misleading, Baird was nevertheless put on the spot when Keep Sydney Open‘s Tyson Koh called in and asked the Premier about why lockouts were the only option offered by the State Government.
“We’ve seen evidence from a lot of cities around the world, places like Vancouver, like Melbourne, that it is possible to have a really dramatic effect on safety and violence without actually having lockouts… I am wondering why we haven’t adopted them instead of a lockout, and would it at all be possible to introduce these instead of having a curfew.”
Answering this as you would expect, by palming it off as great input for the upcoming review, Baird’s expression becomes a little more annoyed/distressed when, at the host’s prompting, Tyson starts listing the myriad other options on offer to the business and nightlife killing lockouts. Finishing off his list of internationally proven solutions, Tyson really cranked the temperature up when he once again asked the Premier why no other options other than a lockout were considered.
“We could have maintained business, we could have maintained people’s freedoms and we could have supported the live music industry, but instead we just went for a curfew and I don’t know why we did that?”
Again, Baird fell back on the standard justifications we’re used to hearing from him. Citing the success Newcastle had with its lockout laws (ignoring the obvious demographic differences between Sydney and Newcastle – surely metropolises like Melbourne and Vancouver would be more relevant case studies). He then side stepped back into the old “people can still go out ’til 3am” line, although he did prove a little more savvy than Gordian Fulde on Q&A, avoiding mentioning the casino when he suggested people “can go out longer, there are just other areas you can move to.”
Mind you, if you really want to look into the eyes of man staring his own political death in the face, skip to around 5:20 when Fitzy brings up the casino and Barangaroo’s exemption from the laws and allegations of corruption or favouritism due to the immense revenue the state receives from gambling. Still as uncomfortable as he looks at the mention of gambling revenue, I have to give Mike credit where credit is due. He is amazing at answering the questions he wants to hear rather than the one’s he’s been asked.
In this case he deflected any discussion of preferential treatment for the casinos into a very polite rebuttal of statistics that suggest violence has spiked around The Star. “We’ll take the response from the police on this, we’ve got to listen to where they are seeing the violence and the concerns.”
Baird did go on to say that he would be open to considering restrictions in those areas if violence spikes, although he again referred that onto the review, and the soon to be named head of it. When asked for details on the review and its head however, Baird was unable to give any information beyond vague promises of online access for individuals looking to get involved in the discussion and debate over the laws.
Yet listening back to interview one thing has certainly changed. Where before Mike Baird told us it would take a lot of evidence for him to change his mind of the lockout laws, he says he is now willing to consider all options as part of the review. While he may not come out and admit there are flaws to these laws, this as least opens a back door for him to ‘take the recommendation’ of an independent reviewer on this issue.
If you prefer a little more dancing with your political demonstrations you should definitely come down for the next Reclaim The Streets. Or you could always take a lead out of Kevin Bacon’s book and ‘angry dance’ against the lockouts.
Watch the full interview, here below.
Premier Mike Baird has spoken for the first time since his Facebook post about the controversial lockout laws. Should they stay or should they go?
Posted by Fitzy & Wippa on Wednesday, 10 February 2016