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News December 1, 2023

NSW Government’s ‘Game Changer’ Vibrancy Reforms Have Passed Parliament

NSW Government’s ‘Game Changer’ Vibrancy Reforms Have Passed Parliament

After the lockouts and the lockdowns, a fresh set of reforms to usher-in a “new era for live music” in Sydney and New South Wales.

That’s the reaction from MusicNSW, after the state parliament on Thursday morning (Nov. 30) passed the so-called Vibrancy Reforms, which were drawn up to facilitate a “thriving, accessible, safe, diverse and exciting” night life.

The 24-Hour Economy Legislation Amendment (Vibrancy Reforms) Bill 2023 enjoyed passage through both houses of NSW Parliament, following its introduction to lawmakers in October. 

The reforms “reflect the absolutely critical role that venues play in an inspired, diverse and sustainable live music scene,” comments MusicNSW managing director Joe Muller in a statement.

“Today, we welcome new incentives for NSW venues to host music and reduced red tape to allow them to do so more easily. Critically, we say goodbye to the days of a single person complaining about noise being able to stop live music in its tracks.”

Joe Muller

Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy The Hon. John Graham MLC and 24 Hour Economy Commissioner Michael Rodrigues were key advocates for the Vibrancy Bills, tabled in Parliament last month (Oct. 19) to coincide with the inaugural South By South West Sydney.

Night Time Industries Association CEO Mick Gibb welcomes the reforms as a “new chapter” for the state’s night time industries.

“These reforms address many of the challenges that industry has been calling out for years. Scrapping duplicative licensing processes and repairing unbalanced sound and noise regulation is welcomed by industry,” Gibb comments.

“It’s not overstating it to call these reforms a game changer for nightlife in NSW. These are milestone reforms that finetune what we had already and fundamentally repair some of the broken aspects of regulation of the night.”

As previously reported, the reforms  are essentially an untangling of a bureaucratic mess created and dumped by successive, previous administrations, the outcome of which is a streamline system which should “put the age of lockouts and over-regulation behind us.”

The changes will be delivered through six areas of reform: Sensible venue sound management; vibrant, coordinated precincts; an activated outdoors; Empowering the 24-hour economy commissioner to deliver a sustainable, thriving night-time economy; and licensing and improving the night-time sector for workers.

NSW Labor

John Graham

Currently, the state has seven agencies that accept noise complaints. Through the changes, the Liquor and Gaming NSW will take the lead in managing noise complaints against licensed venues.

Now, the package of measures applies one set of laws for noise disturbance complaints against live music and performance venues, with higher hurdles imposed for complaints to progress and no avenue for a single complainant to close venues.

So, gone are the days when one grouch with bad ears can shut down a beloved music hub.

“These are important steps in the sector’s continued recovery,” adds Muller, “and we hope they will result in more live music venues, gigs for artists, jobs for music industry workers, and opportunities for audiences to enjoy local and touring performances across the whole of NSW.”

Making the office of the 24 Hour Economy Commissioner a statutory appointment is “just the kind of certainty industry and investors need to invest in the growth of the night time economy,” reckons Gibb. 

“By making it a statutory appointment industry can have greater confidence that lockout laws and draconian regulatory responses will be a thing of the past.”

Operating a live music space has never been more challenging. With the announcement of its annual figures, APRA AMCOS recently revealed some 1,300 live music venues were lost nationwide in the years since COVID-19 swept the globe

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