The NSW Supreme Court has issued a legal bitch-slap to the state government’s controversial lockout laws.
In a landmark decision, it’s ruled that certain Sydney venues – including strip clubs and live music hubs like Oxford Arts Factory – can essentially tell the 1.30am lockout and 3am drinks curfew to EAD.
As Nine reports, the ruling follows a legal challenge brought about by the Smoking Panda Bar at Sydney’s Coronation Hotel, with the court ruling that “the Justice Department lacked the authority to subject a city venue to the 1.30am lockout and 3am cease-service law”.
According to Fairfax, it means that going forward, Smoking Panda Bar – along with 7 to 14 other venues in Sydney’s CBD – will be allowed to ditch the current regime and go back to operating under pre-lockout regulations.
Sadly, it doesn’t mean that all Sydney live music venues and nudie bars will get a free pass (yet), but some of the watering holes that can operate lockout-free from this weekend onwards reportedly include OAF, as well as beloved strip joints Men’s Gallery, Pure Platinum and Minx.
“THIS IS FANTASTIC NEWS”, anti-lockouts advocates Keep Sydney Open posted on their official Facebook page.
While the Smoking Panda Bar posted: “We are pleased we no longer have a lockout … we look forward to seeing you guys at the venue.”
However, their delight may be short-lived, because Premier #CasinoMike & co have already launched an appeal against the decision.
As Fairfax reports, the state government’s lightning-quick counter attack has prevented the full list of venues un-locked by the Supreme Court ruling from being released to the public.
But beloved rock n’ roll dive bar Frankies Pizza is currently investigating whether the decision will affect their operations, while Music Feeds has reached out to OAF for comment on how it will impact their trading from this weekend onwards.
A spokesman for Liquor & Gaming NSW told Fairfax that the government had referred the decision to the upcoming Callinan Review of the lockouts for consideration, just one week before its official findings are expected to be delivered.
“The decision was based on a technical legal argument in relation to the power of the Secretary of the NSW Department of Justice to declare a venue to be subject to the lockout and 3am cease service laws,” he said.
“The lockout laws continue to apply to the vast majority of pubs, nightclubs and other high-risk venues in the CBD and Kings Cross.”
The whole thing went down because Smoking Panda Bar had its lockout exemption revoked for – what the Supreme Court now clearly agrees was – a totally BS reason.
The bar had been granted the exemption based on its presence inside the Coronation Hotel – a “tourism accommodation establishment” area (and tourism and accommodation areas are exempt from the lockout laws).
But its golden ticket got snatched away because an investigation by OLGR (booooo) found that some bar patrons weren’t hotel guests (OH GOD SOMEONE PLZ THINK OF THE CHILDREN!).
During the Supreme Court hearing, Justice Natalie Adams ruled that lockout legislation clauses were “not a proper exercise of the regulation-making power conferred upon the governor”, adding that the “tourism accommodation establishment” expedition had not been defined properly.
“Nothing in the correspondence indicates that there was any condition stipulated by either police or the OLGR that the bar could only permissibly service residents of the hotel’s accommodation facilities,” she said.
So the question is now: what happens next? Will the state government win its appeal and claw back the right to impose lockouts on these venues? Will the imminent Callinan review results recommend ditching the lockouts altogether, thus amping up the pressure on the gov to back TF down over their proven-to-be-catastrophic laws and implement some more sane, forward-thinking solutions to combat alcohol-fuelled violence?
Hopefully we can all chat about it over beers at 4am on the OAF dancefloor tonight.
UPDATE 05/09/16: The Sydney venues exempt from the lockout laws have been told to keep them anyway.
Gallery: The Funniest Anti-Lockout Banners From The ‘Keep Sydney Open’ Rally (21.02.16)