Sydney mayor calls for exceptions to the city’s notorious lockout laws
Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore has called for some exceptions to the city’s much-contested lockout laws, in a submission to the official review of the laws. The NSW government announced in February that formal submissions to the “independent, evidence-based” review of the lockout laws would be accepted, and the review’s findings and recommendations would be submitted in August. The resulting report will theoretically be considered by the government, who will provide a response later in 2016.
On behalf of the city of Sydney, Moore’s submission calls for live music venues and well-managed bars and clubs to be exempt from the 1:30 am lockout, and for venues with good compliance history to be excused from the 3 am last call. Moore’s submission says:
“The city spent years trying to get successive state governments to respond to a worsening situation in the Cross. We knew what the problem was – too many venues in one area, lifetime liquor licences which reduce accountability, and a planning system that doesn’t recognise when an area has become saturated.
Rather than addressing the real problems, the New South Wales government’s response was to introduce a blanket lockout across the city centre and in Kings Cross (with an inexplicable exemption for the casino). It was a sledgehammer when what we needed was a well-researched, evidence-based, flexible response using transport, planning, licensing and police. Well-managed late-trading premises are essential to our city’s cultural life and economic growth.”
Moore’s plea recommends avoiding over-saturation of licenses in a concentrated area, and only renewing the licenses of owners who manage safe venues. The council supports the ban of takeaway alcohol (from liquor stores, not venues) after 10 pm, and later train service on Friday and Saturday nights.
The submission places the City of Sydney in opposition to NSW’s conservative government, led by Mike Baird. Baird stated in the past that “It is going to take a lot for me to change my mind on a policy that is so clearly improving this city.” In the meantime, Sydney announced plans to lift 62 alcohol bans from current alcohol-free zones throughout the city. No decision will be made until the independent review is returned to the NSW government in August, but it is clear that even within the government, support for the current lockout laws is not unified.