Keep Sydney Open Rally, October 2016 / Photo: Ashley Mar

Sydney Lockout Laws To Be Relaxed For Live Music Venues

The results are in: the New South Wales Government has refused to axe Sydney’s controversial lockout laws, but they have conceded to relax their stranglehold ever so very slightly. 

Heeding the results of the controversial Callinan Review into the effectiveness of the city’s 1:30am lockout and 3am alcohol curfew, Premier Mike Baird has decided to let us have an extra half hour of fun before our state-imposed bed time. In some venues only, that is.

As of January 2017, Sydney’s lockout will be pushed forward to 2am, while the last drinks curfew will be pushed forward to 3:30am for “live entertainment venues” only — which a Government-issued press release defines as “venues that offer genuine live entertainment, live performances or art and cultural events” — inside the lockout zone of Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross.

For the rest of the city’s venues, the current regime will remain locked in place for potentially the next two years, which the government has set aside to trial the changes.

Huzzah! An extra half hour! For some venues! For the next two years! And the Casino remains immune!

Premier Mike Baird is naturally spruiking the decision as big ups for the government, propagandising that the lockout laws “have resulted in ‘much safer, quieter and cleaner areas’,” (despite much evidence to the contrary) and arguing that this Callinan Review-backed changes “will further enhance night-life in the precincts without undermining the essential purpose of the laws – which is to make the CBD and the Cross places where people can enjoy a safe night out”.

But the Keep Sydney Open movement is not celebrating. Leader Tyson Koh tells Music Feeds, “Thirty minutes is not enough to help out struggling businesses, to bring back the jobs lost in the night time economy, it’s not enough to restore confidence in our live music scene and it’s certainly not enough to get this issue off the Premier’s back.”

Speaking at a press event this morning, #CasinoMike announced that his government would be doing a yearly review of the controversial laws, saying “we want this to be dynamic”. This could be a good thing or a bad thing for opponents of the lockouts, with Baird explaining that there is “a capacity to further liberalise these laws” or else to revert back to the old ones.

When asked at the briefing if “live entertainment” includes DJs, Police Minister Troy Grant name-dropped Sydney producer Flume, saying he “makes great music” and would be classified as live entertainment.

Under the government’s changes, small bars will also be allowed to increase their capacity from 60 people to 100 people, and their trading hours from midnight to 2am, while bottle shops across NSW will now be allowed to remain open until 11pm instead of 10pm.

So at least there’s that.

UPDATE 08/12/16: Keep Sydney Open and The Greens have slammed the government’s “paltry” 30 minute lockout extension.

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