Sydney’s controversial lockout laws have been in effect since February 2014, but Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm is hoping to get the city to reconsider the regulations as he spearheads a Senate inquiry into the “nanny state” of New South Wales.
As The Sydney Morning Herald reports, Leyonhjelm says the lockout laws are an over-reaction to a “moral panic” about one-punch deaths.
Sydney’s lockout laws were introduced following a public outcry over one-punch fatalities, but Leyonhjelm doesn’t believe all the facts were considered. “It was a classic moral panic,” he says.
Leyonhjelm believes the lockout laws, which require premises in Kings Cross and central Sydney to lock out punters after 1:30am, are punishing everyone for the mistakes of a few individuals.
“There’s no question it’s a sort of collective punishment for the guilt of individuals,” Leyonhjelm says.
Leyonhjelm also thinks that a new moral panic could see the laws extended even further. “Next their call will be for the lockouts to be extended to Newtown,” he says.
“So then they might move to Paddington or Bondi – so where does it end?
“Essentially it’ll get down to ‘well you shouldn’t be out at that time of the day’. And that’s absolutely nanny state thinking: I don’t approve of what you’re doing therefore I’ll make it impossible for you to do it.”
Leyonhjelm’s inquiry is set to hear from people and business owners whose lives have been negatively impacted by Sydney’s lockout laws, which have seen a number of venues already close up shop, including Soho Nightclub and The Flinders Hotel.
Leyonhjelm’s inquiry will not directly change the state government’s laws, but he hopes it will spur further debate.
His comments come as late-night revellers move to venues outside the lockout zone, including many in the inner west, where violent alcohol-related crime has reduced since the lockout laws were introduced.
Hearings for Leyonhjelm’s inquiry will begin later this year, with a full review into the lockout laws expected early next year.
Watch: David Leyonhjelm On The Nanny State Inquiry And Sydney’s Lockout Laws (Via 7 News)