This article originally appeared in TheShout

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced that Sydney’s night time economy, including the city’s lockout laws, will be reviewed by a cross parliamentary committee which will consult with key police, health, community, and entertainment and live music stakeholders.

The review comes five years after the lockout laws were put in place and follows a number of other reviews into Sydney’s night time economy. These have included a review of the State’s liquor laws by Ian Callinan AC QC, which recommended that live entertainment venues be allowed an extra 30 minutes before lockouts and last drinks are imposed.

It also follows a recent report into Sydney’s night time economy by Deloitte Access Economics, which claimed the struggling night-time economy is costing the city and its businesses around $16bn a year.

The Premier said that with the lockouts having been in place for five years, the time was right for the Government to review the policy.

“Since the Government introduced new laws in 2014 in response to shocking cases of alcohol-fueled violence, the number of non-domestic violent assaults have declined in the Sydney CBD Entertainment and Kings Cross Precincts,” Berejiklian said.

“During this period, we have also worked to relax certain aspects of the laws, such as extending trading hours for bars and clubs for major events, and making it easier for small bars, restaurants and cafes to start up and operate.

“After five years of operation, it makes sense for us to now take stock and examine whether any further changes should be made.”

The review has been welcomed by a number of key industry bodies, with AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green, saying: “After five years it is appropriate to undertake this review.

“The lockouts are blanket measures which have hurt many good venues.

“This is an opportunity for all sides to work together to ensure Sydney is a place where people can go out in safety and enjoy themselves.”

In May last year it was reported that there had been a net loss of 176 venues across Sydney since the lockouts were put in place, and many submissions to the Callinan Review stated the people felt less safe in the city at night because it was now so quiet.

The Night Time Industry Association was established last year to help drive more support to re-energise Sydney’s night time economy and Chair, Michael Rodrigues told TheShout: “The Night Time Industry Association welcomes the announcement of a Parliamentary review into Sydney’s night time economy, which will consider the future of the lockout laws.

“The consequence of an underperforming night time economy in Sydney alone is estimated to be $16bn annually by Deloitte. This is because the lockout had unintended consequences and has eroded live music, arts and culture and the going out experience more widely. A review of lockout that results in effective licensing and regulation is needed to get us back on track. Other cities get the balance right and we can too.

“We see the review as an opportunity to unite industry across the entire sector — from hospitality, retail, music, theatre, arts and culture, with the relevant government departments to find an holistic solution that creates a new and positive narrative for Sydney’s nightlife, and positions us well for the future.”

The review also comes just two weeks after the City of Sydney Council approved a development control plan, which allows businesses in the city centre to be able to apply to trade up to 24 hours a day. But that plan would not override the State Government’s lockout laws.

The Joint Select Committee on Sydney’s Night Time Economy will inquire and report into Sydney’s night time economy, including any measures required to:

  • maintain and enhance community safety;
  • maintain and enhance individual and community health outcomes;
  • ensure existing regulatory arrangements in relation to individuals, businesses and other stakeholders, including Sydney’s lockout laws, remain appropriately balanced; and
  • enhance Sydney’s night time economy.

The Committee will consist of five members of the Legislative Assembly, including three Government members and at least one cross-bench member, and five members of the Legislative Council, including two Government members and at least two cross bench members. The Committee will be chaired by a Government member.

The Committee will report to the Parliament by 30 September 2019. The Government will consider the Committee’s recommendations in detail after receiving their report.

This article originally appeared in TheShout

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