Thousands of punters have once again flooded the streets of Sydney in an epic demonstration against the controversial lockout laws they believe have ripped the heart right out of their city.
A monster crowd of around 10,000 people amassed in Belmore Park this afternoon to wave banners and throw their support behind the Keep Sydney Open initiative, which decided to rally its forces once again in an “urgent” bid to amp up pressure on the government to ditch the nightlife-killing lockouts and consider safer, smarter solutions to combat alcohol-fuelled violence.
Sydney MC Urthboy and The Jezabels‘ frontwoman Hayley Mary were two guest speakers to address the rowdy throng and lay the smackdown on NSW Premier “Casino” Mike Baird and his lockout law-loving Liberal party, together with Keep Sydney Open’s Tyson Koh and City of Sydney Councillor Jess Scully.
“Today I’m here as a musician,” Urthboy told the horde of lockout-loathers. “Musicians have no minimum wage. We have next to no superannuation. No financial security. As a general rule we can never be certain of when our next payday is, what tomorrow holds… We’ve never had enough venues in Sydney and we’ve watched as developers have crowded them with apartment complexes, building and whatnot, causing noise complaints that close down venues and turn down mixing desk knobs.
“The challenges we face are amplified when our venues are shut,” he continued. “The lockout laws have caused a fair few of these little cultural hubs to close down. These little cultural hubs that damage our ears, but enrich our lives.”
The rapper then went on to argue that the lockout laws were more about moralising than stopping alcohol-fuelled violence.
“Making dramatic changes to the city always has unintended consequences,” he said. “Last century they thought that closing pubs at 6pm would improve ‘public morality’. It brought about a culture of pissheads who worked til 5pm and were drunk by 6… The shamelessness of Mike Baird’s lockout laws are all there to see with the exemptions for Star City Casino,” [cue loud boos].
“Alcohol violence is twice as high in Pyrmont it’s 30% higher in Newtown, [lockout laws] haven’t solved anything, they have just moved it around. Lockout laws aren’t about booze, this is about morality, they’re about conservatives telling young people what they can & can’t do after dark because they can’t be trusted. As if going out late at night is something to feel guilty about. ‘Why aren’t you in bed yet?’ …The lockouts were overkill and when common sense prevails they will be repealed.
“Lastly I just wanna say I’ve accepted all the risks that are associated with being a musician, the pros, the cons, the financial insecurity, I have accepted it because I love it. It gives me purpose and makes me aspire to help others in achieving their goals, and now I have a birds’ eye view of just how badly these lockouts have failed our industry, have failed young people, they have failed honest, hard-working business owners within an ecosystem of live music. They’ve failed to address alcohol-fuelled violence. They have failed Mike Baird’s popularity rating.”
Urthboy then went on to prove his point by inciting the loudest “Boo” for Mike Baird that you’ve probably ever heard (around the 12.13 mark in the video below #Booaird).
Hayley from The Jezebels was next in line for the mic, and she spoke about how the lockout laws have robbed Sydney of its cultural “golden age” .
“The lockouts seem to be part of a longer narrative of a like war of attrition on the spirit of the city, it’s culminating now in a kind of funnelling of the entertainment and nightlife towards Darling Harbour, where the plughole is Star City Casino, the mecca of the pokie machine,” she told the crowd.
“We need to Keep Sydney Open because we owe it to the future to have a culture of storytelling. We all want this golden age that I’ve been talking about, and we know that if it’s going to happen in Sydney, it needs to be kept open.”
Aussie rock icon Jimmy Barnes also reportedly attended the rally, after publicly throwing his support behind the Keep Sydney Open initiative yesterday.
The anti-lockouts movement called today’s demonstration in response to the recent Callinan Review into the lockouts which – despite conceding that the laws had basically disembowelled Sydney’s nighttime culture and economy – failed to recommend a solution that KSO believes will either reverse the damage or stop more from happening.
In opposition to Judge Ian Callinan’s recommendation to push the 1.30am lockout back by a mere half an hour, KSO is calling on the government to scrap the 1:30am lockout completely, together with the 3am alcohol curfew and the 10pm bottle-o closures, and implement smarter anti-violence solutions instead, including but not limited to:
1. Developing best-practice policing strategies
2. Investing in 24/7 public transport
3. Implementing integrated urban planning reform
4. Encouraging diversification of after-dark activities
5. Establishing anti-violence education & intervention campaigns
6. Incentivising well-run venues, and
7. Appointing a Night Mayor or similar
And after today’s huge public demonstration – the second of its kind this year – it’ll be interesting to see whether or not the government decides to pay attention.
Catch footage from today’s Keep Sydney Open rally below, and for an exhaustive chronology of the ongoing saga surrounding the catastrophic lockouts, check out out dedicated Lockout Laws Feed here.
Gallery: Keep Sydney Open Rally – October 2016 / Photos By Ashley Mar
— lemon stealin' yee haw (@adam_lewis) October 9, 2016