PublishedTue, 9 Feb 2016, 06:00
- No new pub or club licenses will be granted in central Sydney for another year as lockout laws are reviewed.
The NSW state government has announced that a ban on new pub and club licenses in Sydney's CBD will be extended by another 12 months.
The ban was first implemented in February 2014 as one of the government's sweeping measures to combat alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney, particularly in the CBD and Kings Cross. Those measures included the controversial 1:30 AM "lockout laws" which are due to come under government review this month. The purpose of extending the new licenses ban, according to NSW Deputy Premier and Justice Minister Troy Grant, is "to have certainty and confidence that nothing will change while we conduct this major review [of the lockout laws]."
There has been a significant build in media coverage and anti-lockout community activity in the lead-up to the highly anticipated review. Last week, local entrepreneur Matt Barrie ignited discussion with a lengthy and widely spread article on LinkedIn which criticised the government's actions and analysed the damage that lockouts have done to Sydney's culture and economy. Barrie laments that the city has become an "international joke," fearing that the review "will be done by a single person who, with bullshit data and no submissions from the public, people or businesses affected, [will] determine that everything should be closed forever more with no right of appeal."
In response to what he refers to as a "growing hysteria this week about nightlife in Sydney," NSW Premier Mike Baird took to Facebook to offer his opinion on the matter. He explains that "over the coming months a detailed review into the effects of the lock-out laws will be undertaken... but as I've said before, it is going to take a lot for me to change my mind on a policy that is so clearly improving this city." The post has since been met with thousands of comments in opposition to the Premier's stance.
One of those responses comes from Sydney DJ Nina Las Vegas, who says that "as a Kings Cross resident, I feel unsafe to walk home as there is literally NO ONE around, including police officers. As a nightclub DJ and promoter, I can't work within the lockout zones and am continually explaining to international visitors WHY our city is no longer somewhere you would want to perform. I've seen too many businesses close, empty cabs, lost night shifts and closed venues to believe that Sydney is 'more vibrant than ever.' It's heartbreaking."
Keep Sydney Open has an online petition to "fight Sydney's lockout legislation" running which currently sits at over 35,000 signatures.