The NSW Labor Party has finally pulled its head out of the sand on the issue of Sydney’s controversial lockout laws, proposing a handful of alternative measures to combat what the Liberal Government’s policies have wrought upon Sydney’s nightlife.
After two years of largely weak-kneed support of the Libs’ controversial alcohol curfew, Labor leader Luke Foley has finally broken rank with NSW Premier “Casino” Mike Baird & co to call for additional changes to the current lockouts regime.
First off, Foley reckons the State Government’s recently announced 30-minute relaxation of the 1:30am lockout and 3am last drinks curfew for live entertainment venues only isn’t enough, pushing a new liquor licensing scheme which would see Sydney venues allowed to keep their doors open for even longer (providing that some form of live performance is going down on site).
“There’s a direct linkage: you encourage live performance, and longer licensing hours can flow from an increased focus on live performance,” Foley says (via Fairfax Media).
“We are seeking to address the decline of live music venues over decades. The point here, I think, is that it’s not all about the Cross and the CBD – we should be planning to boost nightlife across Sydney.”
Labor is also backing one of the key recommendations from the Keep Sydney Open movement’s global city solutions starter pack to help enhance the city’s nightlife while cleaning up the streets, by calling for the introduction of a Night Mayor to promote late-night business and general harmony. Their plan also includes a review of red tape for venue licensing.
“I think what Vivid [festival] showed is that nightlife is about a whole lot more than getting yourself full of drink and spewing up on the gutters of Kings Cross at three in the morning,” Foley says, spruiking the point that punters don’t generally hit the turps as heavily when there’s entertainment to focus on.
It’s a curious time for Labor to speak out on the contentious lockout law issue, following two years of timid submission to the Liberal Party’s agenda. Earlier this year, Foley himself called the laws “new minimum standards for community safety in known trouble spots” in the face a slew of mass anti-lockout protests, research indicating the laws weren’t working and widespread allegations of Government corruption, which he could have easily seized upon to try and up his party’s approval rating.
Meanwhile, both outspoken anti-lockouts advocates Keep Sydney Open and the state Greens have slammed the Libs’ “paltry” half hour extension of the lockout laws as grossly inadequate to repair the damage that’s already been done to the Emerald City’s post-sunset culture. Read their official response here.
Gallery: The Best Signs From The Keep Sydney Open Rally (October 2016)