The New South Wales Government has asked a number of Sydney music venues and strip clubs to keep operating under the city’s controversial lockout laws, even though they were recently ruled exempt.
In August, 15 Sydney venues were freed from the city’s lockout laws in a landmark Supreme Court decision, and the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) has since confirmed to Music Feeds that the Government has asked these venues to continue upholding the 1:30am lockout and 3am curfew, even though they legally don’t have to.
A spokesperson for OLGR says, “Most of the relevant venues have indicated they will continue to observe the laws.”
The notable exception to this is The Smoking Panda — the bar that brought the fight against the lockout laws to the Supreme Court in the first place — which has officially announced it will start trading well past the 3am curfew.
“We no longer have a lockout and we will be trading from Wednesday through till Saturday 4pm-5am,” the venue posted on Facebook following the decision. However, the bar’s operators have refused to comment on the matter any further.
The Smoking Panda is the only venue to have spoken publicly about how the Supreme Court decision is set to impact its trade going forward, with OLGR’s spokesperson confirming to Music Feeds that the Government has asked other affected venues not to comment publicly.
One Sydney venue operator, who has requested to remain anonymous, alleges that some of the newly exempt establishments are too afraid to speak out and too afraid to ditch the lockouts, for fear of OLGR “making their lives very difficult”.
OLGR has declined to comment on these allegations, but has pointed out that any venues who feel as if they’ve been treated unfairly are free to lodge a complaint.
The only live music venue which OLGR has confirmed as being on the list of exempt venues is Oxford Art Factory, but the venue’s operators have refused to comment on the matter. The names of all 15 venues involved have been withheld from the public, and the NSW Government has launched an appeal against the Supreme Court ruling.
The ruling has led to 15 venues becoming exempt from the 1:30am lockout, with eight of those 15 also being ruled exempt from the 3am alcohol curfew, but the decision only affects venues with a theatre license, or hotels with more than 20 rooms.
A Sydney venue operator also alleges to Music Feeds that OLGR and licensing Police have been coming down hard on any venue which expresses solidarity with the anti-lockouts Keep Sydney Open movement.
“Since Keep Sydney Open launched there’s been more scrutiny to venues that have been openly supportive,” the venue operator says, explaining that they’ve personally incurred the wrath of licensing Police after posting a pro-Keep Sydney Open status on Facebook.
“Since then there’s been a huge increase in venue patrols. We went from no inspections to inspections every Friday and Saturday night. And every time, they found absolutely nothing.
“There’s politics and strings being pulled in the background and businesses have everything to lose. The licensing Police have made me feel threatened with regard to our ability to trade despite being a very responsible venue. They are relentless.
“They treat us like we’re the problem when we should be working together to achieve a solution.”
Most Sydney live music venues which exist inside the city’s so-called ‘party precinct’ — including but not limited to Frankie’s Pizza, Brighton Up Bar, Plan B Small Club, The Basement and The World Bar — have not been affected by the Supreme Court’s decision, and will continue operating under the lockouts. It also seems as if Oxford Art Factory, despite being ruled exempt, will continue to uphold the laws as well.
Meanwhile, the results of the Callinan Review into the effectiveness of Sydney’s lockout laws have been delayed by two weeks in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling, and are now set to be handed down on 13th September.
Report by Emmy Mack. Writing by Tom Williams.