Anti-lockout activist group Keep Sydney Open has snapped back with a fiery response to the New South Wales Government’s announcement that its controversial lockout laws are being altered slightly, but are here to stay.
Following the long, drawn-out saga of the Callinan Review into the city’s alcohol curfew and its findings, NSW Premier Mike Baird today revealed his Government’s chokehold on Sydney’s CBD would be loosened by a mere half an hour, with the 1:30am lockout to be pushed to 2am and the 3am drinks cut-off pushed to 3:30am, for live entertainment venues only.
Keep Sydney Open have quickly responded to the loosening of the laws, and they reckon it’s a bullshit response to the problems our city is actually facing. In a statement to Music Feeds, they’ve demanded better.
“These go-to-bed laws have damaged our communities, small businesses and Sydney’s vibrancy without solving the problem of violence”, says KSO Campaign Director Tyson Koh, who has whole-heartedly rejected the Government’s 30-minute alterations.
“It’s sad that in the face of this failing policy the Government has not had the imagination and ambition to consider world class alternatives to create a safe night time economy, but instead the Premier only has enough vision to tinker around the edges,” he continues.
Greens Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong, 100 per cent agrees, arguing, “The fault with the lockouts is that they were – and are – a blanket punishment.
“Instead of dealing with the people or the venues that were the problem, the lockouts punished everybody in our city who wanted to be out late and have fun.”
Zoning in on the half-hour exemptions for live entertainment venues, Leong continues, “The changes announced today will have a minor impact on a limited number of venues. This isn’t the boost the Sydney’s night-time culture and economy that our musos, creatives, shift-workers, and all-night party-goers know we need.
“You can dance to a DJ, a jukebox or a band. You can be entertained by a drag queen, a performance poet or a heavy metal covers band. It’s laughable to think that a government bureaucrat will be responsible for determining what live entertainment is.”
Keep Sydney Open have further accused the Government of practically ignoring a lot of very important info, such as the section of the Callinan Review which openly admits the lockouts have adversely impacted Sydney’s vibrancy, post-review revelations of unreported assaults at the lockout-exempt Star Casino, non-Government studies that show the lockouts haven’t actually made Sydney any safer and of course countless experts’ calls for innovative new policies in the areas of transport, policing, licensing and urban planning to combat the problem of violence at its core while restoring Sydney’s thriving nightlife.
“The NSW Government has shown itself to be wholly inadequate in providing sensible solutions for the community and Sydney’s night time economy,” Koh says.
“Cities around the world, or just down the Hume in Melbourne, have trialled lockouts and found that they’re a waste of time. We demand better.
“If the government thinks that 30 minutes will patch up this complete policy failure, they’re wrong; it simply exposes the fact that they have made a terrible mistake by putting their trust in go-to-bed laws to make Sydney safer. This latest announcement ensures that the Premier will continue to be dogged well into the New Year.”
As always, KSO are demanding safer, smarter, saner solutions for a global city like Sydney. Oh, and they actually have a plan in place already. It includes scrapping the lockouts and:
1. Developing best practice policing strategies;
2. Investing in 24 hour public transport;
3. Implementing integrated urban planning reform;
4. Encouraging diversification of night time activities by extending retail, food and galleries hours;
5. Establishing targeted anti-violence education and intervention campaigns;
6. Incentivising well-run venues; and
7. Appointing a Night Mayor or similar position whose responsibility is to focus on developing Sydney’s night time economy whilst nurturing an inclusive and diverse city community.
Speaking at a press event this morning, Mike Baird announced that his Government would be doing a yearly review of the lockout laws, explaining that there is “a capacity to further liberalise these laws” or else to “revert back to the old ones”.
One thing’s for sure: until the lockouts are scrapped altogether by his Government or the next, our state leaders will be dogged by freedom advocates like KSO (and their hilarious placards) every step of the way.
Gallery: The Best Signs From The Keep Sydney Open Rally (October 2016)