Baird relaxes Sydney lockout laws
Sydney’s 1:30 am lockout law has been relaxed to 2am and last drinks have been moved from 3am to 3:30am as part of a two-year trial.
New South Wales Premier Mike Baird announced the decision this morning.
“If we see an uptake in violence, there’s an option to revert to where we were, but at the same time, if we continue to see improvements in violence or a maintenance of violence at levels that they’re currently at, it gives us the capacity to further liberalise these laws,” Baird said.
Baird also announced Takeaway and home delivery alcohol sales will be extended from 10pm to 11pm across New South Wales.
The changes will come into effect in January.
Baird’s softening of the laws follows a review penned by Former High Court judge Ian Callinan three months ago. Callinan, who was appointed in February to provide an independent assessment, said the Government should allow live music venues to stay open an extra half hour.
He also proposed to extend the 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks laws for genuine live venues by 30 minutes, to 2am and 3.30am, respectively.
Baird took to Facebook following the release of Callinan’s review to suggest his reticence on any uptake of the recommendations.
However, venues will now be able to apply to be classed as live entertainment venues from January, and government bureaucrats will decide how locations will be classified.
Baird has announced the patron limit for small bars in the lockout zone will be increased from 60 to 100, and their midnight closing time will be extended to 2am.
He’s also proposed the Government’s “three-strikes” disciplinary policy for venues be incurred by individual licensees rather than the venue’s license.
The Minister for Justice and Police Troy Grant said the only recommendation from Callinan not implemented in some form is the suggestion to allow home delivery of alcohol till midnight. Grant said this was because it could not be implemented in rural areas.
Anti-lockout activist group Keep Sydney Open previously called Callinan’s recommendations “out-of-touch” and today tweeted their frustration:
What a joke. A 30 minute relaxation is an insult to businesses and Sydney’s global status. Mike Baird is in for a rough ride. https://t.co/EeuklMgxc3
— Keep Sydney Open (@KeepSydneyOpen) December 7, 2016
Baird, who has been dubbed Casino Mike due to The Star casino and James Packer’s planned casino at Barangaroo being exempt from the laws, said the changes would be reviewed annually.
“They have proven to be effective. If you look at the statistics, they show there’s been a 40 per cent reduction in violence in Kings Cross, 20 per cent across the CBD and there’s no doubt they have been saving lives,” he said.
“[…] We’re not returning to those days of violence,” he said. “[We will] look at the statistics, this is an ongoing conversation. The good news is we’re listening.”