Bruce Solomon hits out at lockout laws during AHA Hall of Fame acceptance speech

02 December, 2015 by
Aoife Boothroyd

One of Sydney’s most prominent publicans, Bruce Solomon used his AHA Hall of Fame acceptance speech to slam the NSW government’s lockout laws.

Solomon, who heads up Solotel, the group behind Newtown’s Courthouse Hotel, Darlinghurst’s Darlo Bar and the Kings Cross Hotel amongst others, told AHA Award attendees that there was “little wonder” as to why there was less violence in the once popular Kings Cross precinct given that foot traffic has dropped 85 percent since the introduction of the lockout laws in early 2014.

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“There used to be 25,000 people in the Cross at 2am on a Saturday and now there’s 3000. That’s an 85 percent drop…” said Solomon at the Awards via Fairfax.

"I think when history looks at what's happened in the Cross, I think a lot of people will think what a mistake it was that we destroyed one part of our culture; we destroyed one part of what Sydney is about."

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The lockout laws were announced in late January, 2014 and rushed through parliament following the death of Sydney teenager Daniel Christie. The reforms aimed to reduce the level of alcohol-fuelled violence across Sydney’s inner city suburbs including Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, The Rocks and Darling Harbour.

The laws prohibit patrons from entering a venue for the first time after 1.30am, and prevent pubs and clubs from serving alcohol to patrons after 3am.

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Since their introduction, a number of once prominent Kings Cross venues including Hugos Longue have entered receivership.

In August, owner of Hugos Lounge, Dave Evans announced plans to potentially launch a class action against the NSW state government together with fellow Sydney operators that have been affected by the laws.

In his speech, Solomon also noted that the laws sent a clear message to the international community that Sydney is no longer a destination with prominent late-night precincts.

"… Tourists from overseas come to Sydney, they come and scratch their heads and wonder why isn't there a late-night precinct in Sydney? Whatever happened to Kings Cross?” he said.

"You can always go down to Melbourne, because the people of Melbourne can be trusted, the people of Melbourne are responsible, and the people of Melbourne … they can have 24-hour trading but here we can't have it because we can't be trusted."