The Keep Sydney Open rally planned for 21 January was called off after the state’s Supreme Court issued a ban. NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione’s application to prohibit the rally was approved by the court on Friday 20 January, leading the anti-lockout pressure group to cancel the protests that were scheduled to take place in Kings Cross.
According to The Shout the Supreme Court noted “The proposed event involves large logistical questions about crowd management that bear upon the safety of participants, and the general community in the vicinity of the venue. The defendants have endeavoured to cater for the orderly conduct of the event (for example) by arranging for volunteer marshals to assist in crowd control, and for St John Ambulance officers to be available to render medical assistance, if required. They have not, however, made comprehensive arrangements (for example) for the control of traffic and pedestrians – they rely upon the police for that – and they do not presently have insurance cover in the event of misadventure.”
While Keep Sydney Open has planned another march for 18 February, the group’s Queensland counterparts No Curfew, Keep Queensland Open and Our Nightlife Queensland have claimed victory as their government softened its stance on the state’s lockout laws.
The new laws were due to begin on 1 February, but their efficacy has been questioned after a trial period failed to return clear data. Under the Queensland laws, lockouts would begin at 1:00am with last drinks at 2:00am or, for venues in one of the 15 safe night precincts, 3:00am.
After a cabinet meeting on 23 January, Queensland Premier Anna Palaszczuk announced that the 1:00am lockout would be scrapped, with mandatory ID scanners to be introduced within safe night precincts later this year instead and the number of special event exemption permits allocated to venues halved.
The 2:00am and 3:00am last drinks laws will remain in place.
On Friday 20 January, one day after moving to ban the Keep Sydney Open rally, the NSW government announced the first live venues to gain extensions to the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross lockout and last drinks laws.
Deputy Secretary for Liquor, Gaming and Emergency Management at the NSW Department of Justice, Paul Newson, said CBD venues the Palace Hotel, Observer Hotel and ArtHouse Hotel can now admit patrons until 2am and serve drinks until 3.30am.