Independent review of lockout laws calls for public submissions

12 February, 2016 by
Aoife Boothroyd

The NSW public will have the opportunity to express their opinions in relation to the 1.30am lockouts, 3am last drinks and 10pm takeaway liquor laws as part of an independent review.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Justice, Troy Grant said that the NSW Government had appointed former High Court Justice, the Hon. Ian Callinan AC QC to lead the review of the controversial laws.

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The review will assess the effectiveness of laws which span across Kings Cross and Sydney’s CBD precincts, in addition to the state-wide restriction of take away liquor sales and the periodic licensing fee system for NSW licensed venues.

The review’s terms of reference include the examination of the impacts on alcohol-related violence, along with other harms and impacts on business, patrons and community amenity.

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Deputy premier Grant says that the Callinan Review will provide an independent, open and transparent assessment of the laws which will focus on the facts to best advise the NSW Government on the future of the laws.

“I want to make it clear it does not have a foregone conclusion – it will be guided by the evidence and the experiences of the people of Sydney and NSW,” says Grant.

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“Hearing from the public and all interested stakeholders will be a crucial component of the Callinan Review and I encourage anyone who has a view to express it in writing.

“Mr Callinan is the right man for the job because he has a lifetime of experience leading evidence-based inquiries and exercising the independence of an official of the highest court in our country.”  

Callinan will be assisted by senior counsel, Jonathan Horton and the Destination NSW, NSW Police Force, NSW Health, Liquor and Gaming NSW, Treasury and Premier and Cabinet during the review.

Callinan will provide a final report to Government in August 2016 and from there, the Government will consider the findings and recommendations before releases a response in late 2016.

Submissions can be made online or by mail. Further details of the review and consultation process click here.

The review follows a recent report from the City of Sydney which found that late night foot traffic in Sydney’s CBD and a number of its surrounding precincts have continued to decline over the last few years, resulting in lower levels of anti-social behaviour.

The report suggests that the introduction of the city’s lockout laws in February 2014 may have helped to reduce levels of anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related violence.

The lockout laws were announced in late January 2014 and rushed through parliament following the death of Sydney teenager Daniel Christie, with the aim to reducing the level of alcohol-fuelled violence across the city’s nightclub hotspots.

The legislation requires bottle shops to close their doors at 10pm and prevents patrons from entering a venue for the first time after 1.30am. The lockout laws also prevent pubs and clubs from serving alcohol to patrons after 3am. 

Since the introduction of the laws, a number of hospitality businesses have had to close their doors, including Hugo’s Lounge, which was placed into voluntary administration in July 2015 following a 60 percent drop in revenue since 2012.

At the time, owner Dave Evans said “We said it [the lockout laws] would destroy business, we said it would destroy staff, and here we are.”