Staff from Sydney hot spot Hugos Lounge in Kings Cross are reportedly considering launching a class action against the NSW government after losing their jobs due to the venue’s recent closure.
Reports Fairfax, Hugo’s owner Dave Evans says he and the 70 staff who have been made redundant will announce details of their proposed class action today. Evans has put blame of the venue’s closure directly on the Sydney’s controversial lock-out and liquor laws.
Evans says the venue has suffered a 60 percent decline in revenue and 80 per cent drop in customers since the initial set of new liquor laws were introduced in 2012. The introduction of 2014’s lockout laws have exacerbated the problem.
Evans is expected to be joined by libertarian senator David Leyonhjelm, who has already announced his desire to overturn the lockout laws, and Doug Grand of the industry-based King’s Cross Liquor Accord at the announcement to take place at Hugos today.
At its peak, Hugos saw 6000 patrons through the door each week and it never received a strike from the Government’s three strike disciplinary scheme for breaking the terms of a liquor license.
“Hugos had no trouble with alcohol, which as it turns out is more than Barry O’Farrell can say.” Evans said, when announcing the venue’s closure, alluding to the fact that the former NSW Premier who introduced the laws resigned from office after accepting and failing to declare a gift of Penfolds Grange.
Now even venues in Newtown, which is outside the designated lockout zone, have voluntarily decided to adopt lockout-style restrictions described as an effort to curb growing violence in the area, as late-night revellers move to the inner west after the CBD’s lockout kicks in.
It’s troubling times for Sydney’s ailing nightlife, but not all MPs are on the lockout bandwagon. Yesterday Greens MP and state member for Newtown, Jenny Leong, suggested that perhaps more venues are the answer, not more lockouts.
“Lockouts don’t stop alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour and violence,” she wrote. “It’s not like Cinderella: sexist, transphobic and racist dickheads don’t magically appear after 3am. Unfortunately, they can surface at any time.”