As Sydney’s lockout laws creep into the inner-west and contribute to the closing of numerous venues, Greens MP and state member for Newtown, Jenny Leong, has suggested that more venues are the answer, not more lockouts.
In an op-ed piece for The Sydney Morning Herald, Leong reflects on her teenage experiences of Sydney, saying:
“I love the late-night culture of Sydney, and Newtown in particular. I don’t want to shut it down and lock it up.”
Some Newtown venues have agreed to trial 3am lockouts on weekends to help improve safety in the area, and Leong says the “vibe” in the suburb is changing.
“It’s clear the law and order response that imposed lockouts on Kings Cross has had a significant impact on the area and on Sydney’s nightlife,” she says.
“Less people will mean less drunken, offensive and aggro idiots making people feel unsafe, being abusive and in general ruining it for everyone. But what else is lost when lockouts are imposed?
“Lockouts don’t stop alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour and violence. It’s not like Cinderella: sexist, transphobic and racist dickheads don’t magically appear after 3am. Unfortunately, they can surface at any time.”
Leong believes that lockouts are simply moving the problem into different areas of Sydney. She has praised Newtown venues for their concerned responses to the problem, and has offered up a possible solution for reducing anti-social behaviour.
“We need to look at the variety of entertainment after midnight. It’s OK to have one or two large noisy booze barns where you can get drunk with your mates and have a lazy pash at the end of the night, provided it’s done in a way that isn’t causing harm to others. But a whole suburb of this kind of venue is going to create problems.
“That’s why we need to look at policy and legislation that encourages more small late-night venues, where a couple of friends can keep chatting until 5 am over ‘one more one for the road?’ or those finishing shift work can grab a bite to eat.
“Let’s ditch prohibition and focus on creating the type of late-night environment we want: live music – in venues and on the streets – dancing like there’s no one watching, laughing around crap shots on pool tables, good food, feeling safe to walk down the street.”
Leong’s op-ed, which can be read in full via The Sydney Morning Herald, also seeks to encourage more non-commerical/non-alcoholic community events and better late-night transport.
Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm, who wants to overturn the lockout laws, is spearheading a Senate inquiry into the “nanny state” of New South Wales, with a full review into the lockout laws expected early next year.
Newtown’s new restrictions will begin with a six month trial on 1st September, and will only apply only on Friday and Saturday nights.