Businessman and entrepreneur Matt Barrie penned an 8000+ word essay back in February outlining how momentously detrimental the NSW government’s lockout laws have been to Sydney’s nightlife. The piece was titled “Would the last person in Sydney please turn the lights out”, and it explored how a multitude of venues and restaurants that have been forced to close since the laws were introduced.
Now he’s taken aim at the way in which the government has wielded statistics, and at the casinos themselves in a huge followup submission to the current review into the lockout laws and their effectiveness. The new piece is titled “The death of Sydney’s nightlife and collapse of its night time economy”.
This latest piece calls out the government for “misquoting and manipulating” their own official statistics and research in order to justify the lockout legislation.
The main source for the justification of the laws was written by Dr Gordian Fulde, using mainly statistics from St Vincent’s hospital. If you’re not familiar with him, he’s the guy who went on Q&A and said “nobody is stopping anyone drinking at 1:30am” because “you can go to the casino”.
Among other things, Barrie takes issue with statistics quoted from St Vincent’s hospital that use an reduction in “alcohol-related injuries” rather than another unused statistic, “alcohol-caused injuries” which had a significantly smaller reduction.
The paper itself, Barrie suggests, is “curiously constructed and poorly-researched”, and as far as he can work out, “The sole way in which an injury is determined to be alcohol related was by one person and one person only – Fulde himself.” Dr Fulde has also not provided any of his raw data for the purposes of verifying how the alcohol classifications were made.
Barrie also suggests that it doesn’t make sense to use statistics from the time of night that is being studied, labelled as “High Alcohol Time”, because it encompasses 6pm on a Friday all the way through to 6am on a Sunday, a far greater data set than just the hours in which the lockout laws are applicable. He also goes on to re-state a number of points he made in his previous essay, including that any reduction in crime is a direct result of a reduction in foot traffic in the areas concerned, including a graphic to show the reduction.
Barrie then turns his attention to the casinos and their influence, not only on the government itself but also, perhaps more controversially on a potential conflict of interest for a research paper coming out of St Vincent’s which he says “receives millions of dollars from Crown Casino” in Melbourne.
Dr Fulde finds himself in a crosshairs again, as a result of being a founding director of the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, the main political lobby group for the lockout laws. “Stranger still, this foundation’s main financiers are the Crown Casino, the owner of Crown Casino, Macquarie Bank- substantial shareholder & investment bank of Star Casino, the NSW Premier’s office- legislator of the lockout laws and City of Sydney- who helped implement the lockouts”.
He includes a paragraph from a media release from the foundation to show links between the parties involved.
In the submission, Barrie’s other key points include that even the NSW Liberal government were, in 2013, promoting the fact that alcohol-related violence had been dropping for some time. “On the 11th October 2013, George Souris, the minister responsible for gambling, tourism and alcohol regulation issued a press release through Destination NSW promoting Sydney as the “safest and friendliest city in the world”.
Barrie concludes that it is commercial business, jobs and civil liberties being punished for what is a social issue and an unjustified beat-up. “The only winners from these laws have been the casinos and property developers, and the biggest losers have been small businesses, jobs, the economy, civil liberties, tourism, and the social, cultural fabric and reputation of Sydney”, says Barrie.
He says the laws have fundamentally “resulted in a huge loss to the international standing and reputation of Sydney as a global city and as a tourist destination.”
“Even if the lockout laws are reversed, so much damage has been done to Sydney’s nightlife, I doubt it will ever fully recover. The vibrancy that has been destroyed took decades to build. There are simply no people out and about anymore.”
Gallery: Reclaim The Streets Rally – Sydney 2016 / Photos By Brandon Matich
Matt Barrie Slams Mike Baird's Stats, Casino Corruption In Scathing Follow Up Lockouts Essay - Music Feeds