PublishedWed, 27 Jul 2016, 22:22
- Troy Grant has indicated that the controversial 1:30 AM restriction could be abandoned, pending results of a state review.
Acting New South Wales premier Troy Grant has given hope to those looking to abolish Sydney's 1:30 AM lockout, suggesting that he may support some loosening of the controversial restriction.
The Daily Telegraph reported this week that deputy premier Grant, who is currently standing in for premier Mike Baird as he works with youth in the Northern Territory, has expressed that he would support the 1:30 AM lockout being repealed or pushed back if the outcome of an ongoing state review suggested that to be the best course of action. He did, however, indicate that 3 AM last drinks appeared to be a fitting solution to the problem of alcohol-related violence in Sydney.
"Every bit of evidence I've seen or heard about, even in my previous experience with liquor accord arrangements, it's not the lockouts that have the greatest impact, it's the last drinks," he told the Telegraph. "If [the review] recommends pushing the lockouts back, I think it's something we absolutely should do. If you're trying to control the quantity of alcohol people consume... last drinks is most effective."
The contentious licensing restrictions, commonly referred to as the "lockout laws," were implemented by the NSW government back in February 2014. The two key measures affecting licensed venues in Sydney are 1:30 AM lockout (meaning patrons cannot enter or re-enter a venue after this time) and 3 AM last drinks within designated entertainment precincts. A state review of the legislation by former High Court judge Ian Callinan has been underway since February this year, with results expected to be returned in August. Protests under the Keep Sydney Open and Reclaim The Streets banners have drawn thousands to march against the laws, which have been responsible for a 40 percent reduction in ticket sales for affected music venues.
Canberra's music scene, meanwhile, has enjoyed a win this week after it was announced that the ACT government's plan to greatly increase license fees for venues operating after 3 AM had been abandoned. The Canberra Times report that the other proposed measures for the city, which included the introduction of last drinks and changes to closing times, had also been shot down thanks to Greens cabinet minister Shane Rattenbury, who held the balance of power on the issue in the lower house. He told the Times that "the Greens think there are a lot of other measures that we can put in place to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence that don't involve shutting the city down."
Looking to the north-east of Australia, Queensland is nearing the end of its first month of statewide licensing restrictions which rate as the strictest in the country. A last drinks call of 2 AM for all QLD venues (or 3 AM in designated entertainment precincts) came into effect on July 1st this year. Triple J's Hack looked to collect some preliminary data from the laws' first weekend out and found that Brisbane venues had experienced a 20 percent drop in revenue. Any official or comprehensive statistics are still some time off.
You can follow the campaigns of Keep Sydney Open, Keep Canberra Open and Keep Queensland Open on Facebook.