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News December 2, 2019

‘It isn’t as simple as flicking a switch’: Music biz reacts to scrapped NSW lockout laws

Former Assistant Editor
‘It isn’t as simple as flicking a switch’: Music biz reacts to scrapped NSW lockout laws

The music industry has welcomed an end to the NSW lockout laws, but warned that it will take time to restore the damage to Sydney’s night-time economy.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian last week announced that the long-standing 1:30am lockout across Sydney’s CBD and Oxford Street will cease in January 2020.

In addition, a NSW-wide ban on bottleshops trading past 10pm will be pushed back to midnight, except Sundays where it will be 11pm.

The only place the lockouts will remain is Kings Cross.

Peak industry body APRA AMCOS hailed the move as a “major step”, but warned that the removal of the laws signals the start of a long road ahead.

“It is critical that unnecessary restrictions on live music are removed, arts and culture is supported and encouraged and that small bars are fostered to help establish a safe and diverse night-time economy,” said APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston.

With the appointment of Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres as Minister responsible for the implementation and review of the NSW Government response, Ormston said he’s looking forward to helping restore Sydney to its former glory.

“Sydney‘s reputation as an international destination has suffered since 2014 but it’s not irretrievable,” he said.

“We look forward to working with the NSW Government on a rejuvenated vision for Sydney as a globally vibrant and liveable city. To do this we must set our sights high for Sydney and what makes it unique.”

APRA also called on the City Of Sydney to table plans for a special entertainment district. 

In a statement released to media, the Night Time Industries Assoication (NTIA) echoed the sentiments shared by APRA.

Chair of the NTIA Michael Rodrigues called the move “a great start”, but warned that “turning Sydney’s night life back on isn’t as simple as flicking a switch.

“We’ll be taking our time to ensure the industry does its part to get Sydney back on track in a considered way – and we in particular welcome the establishment of an Industry Advisory Group where we hope to be able to play a part in bringing a range of night time voices to help shape the future of Sydney’s night life,” he said.

The NTIA noted that there could be a pathway to lifting the lockout in Kings Cross, and believes that there could be a new post-lockout future for the cross.

“Safety of the community still is and will always be at the heart of a successful nightlife. Many other major cities both in Australia and overseas get the balance right,” said Rodrigues.

“There’s so much more Sydney is capable of, and we’re pleased to see this one out of the “too hard” basket and into public discussion, so Sydney can enjoy a safe, fun and vibrant atmosphere from twilight to late night that locals and visitors can enjoy.”

Ticketing platform Eventbrite was another to highlight the support that local venue owners will need to rebuild.

We welcome today’s announcement, but also acknowledge the long road ahead for local venues and promoters who’ve had their businesses decimated by these laws,” said Eventbrite AAC GM Josh McNicol.

“Winding back the lockout is a good first step, but local venue owners are telling us that they need the NSW Government to go one step further and offer dedicated support to help recover lost patronage and rebuild the city’s nighttime economy.” 

NSW Labor

NSW Shadow Minister For Music & The Night Time Economy John Graham

At the Government level, the offices for NSW Labor Leader Jody McKay and for Labor Shadow Minister For Music & The Night Time Economy John Graham raised further concerns in a statement.

“Labor has raised concerns that the existing additional thirty minutes trade currently permitted for live music venues will be scrapped under the government response, and has called on the government to clarify if it will remain,” said the statement

The statement went on to say that while appointing Stuart Ayers is a step forward, the Government needs to actually appoint a proper Minister to the Night Time Economy.

“I am glad that we are seeing the end of the lockout laws across the CBD. I welcome the Government’s support for the Joint Select Committee’s recommendations,” said Jodi McKay.

“The Treasurer admitted today that ‘The government doesn’t do fun well…’ added John Graham. “That is certainly true of this government.”


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