SMH: Sydney’s final lockout laws axed to revive CBD
Sydney’s remaining lockout laws will be axed next month and restrictions on Kings Cross will be lifted to allow venues to open beyond 1.30am in a push to revive the city’s COVID-hit economy.
The changes mean last drinks across the city will now be served until 3.30am.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Kings Cross had transformed since the laws were introduced in early 2014. Safety will continue to be a focus for the state government with the ID scanners system, which requires some venues to record patrons’ ID during busy times, to remain.
The changes come almost nine years after 18-year-old Thomas Kelly was killed in a one-punch attack in Kings Cross as he walked along Victoria Street with his girlfriend.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury and died in St Vincent’s Hospital two days later. His death prompted the government to introduce tough new laws in 2014 to curb alcohol-fuelled violence.
The changes, which are in line with global cities including Los Angeles, New York and Singapore, would help boost jobs and revitalise a popular area of Sydney, Ms Berejiklian said.
“Kings Cross has transformed considerably since these laws were introduced over six years ago,” she said.
“The precinct is now well positioned to continue to evolve into a vibrant lifestyle and cultural destination with a diverse mix of small bars, live music venues and restaurants.”
Lockout laws were removed for all venues in Sydney’s CBD including Oxford Street in January last year but the restrictions remained in place in Kings Cross.
From March 8, the 1.30am “lock out” will be removed to allow patrons to continue to enter pubs, bars and nightclubs in Kings Cross beyond that time.
Blanket restrictions on drinks, shots, cheap cocktails and the use of glass after midnight will be lifted and requirements for Responsible Service of Alcohol marshals and CCTV will no longer apply.
Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said the changes would help grow Sydney’s night-time economy and attract diverse businesses to the area.
“These measures will help breathe new life into the precinct and enhance Sydney’s reputation as a global city,” Mr Dominello said.
“The ID scanners system, which requires some venues to record patrons’ ID during busy times such as Friday and Saturday nights will be retained in the Kings Cross precinct as an additional public safety measure.”
Minister for Jobs Stuart Ayres said Sydney needed to shine as a true 24-hour city.
“Sydney is already an iconic international city and Australia’s number one tourism destination, it’s time to enhance our vibrant nightlife, arts and culture scenes as we bounce back from COVID-19,” he said.
The NSW government said it would closely monitor the changes and conduct a review in 12 months, as it implements its 24-hour economy strategy.
In 2019, a NSW parliamentary committee recommended the laws be removed “with appropriate urgency” from licensed venues in the CBD, including Oxford Street.
However, it concluded Kings Cross was “not yet sufficiently changed to warrant a complete reversal” of the lockout laws.
“The committee finds that due to the historical nature of Kings Cross, venue density and the small size of the precinct, there is a high risk that if the 2014 laws were removed, violence would increase and the rate of assaults would begin to rise again,” the report said.
The inquiry found there were 1921 fewer non-domestic assaults in the Kings Cross precinct – a decrease of 52.8 per cent – between January 2014 and March 2019 as a result of the laws.
Tele: Sydney lockout laws: NSW government to abolish final remaining rules
The last remnant of Sydney’s restrictive lockout laws will be removed, with Kings Cross issued a reprieve from March 8.
The NSW government will announce the changes on Tuesday, saying the move is a bid to stimulate the local economy and boost jobs.
The change will bring the precinct into line with the CBD, where lockout laws were lifted a year ago.
Under the changes, the 1.30am lockout will be ditched, so revellers can enter venues after that hour, and the 3am “last drinks” call will be pushed back to 3.30am.
Blanket restrictions on particular drinks, shots, cut-price cocktails and the use of glass after midnight will be removed and requirements for RSA marshalls and CCTV will also be wiped.
The changes were signed off by state cabinet with a pitch that they would help boost jobs and the economic revitalisation of the city after the struggles of the COVID economy.
The impact of the new rules would be “closely monitored”, the government said, with a review slated for next year as the city continues to pursue a 24-hour economy strategy.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there would still be a strong focus on safety in Kings Cross, but that the precinct had transformed since the laws were first introduced.
“The precinct is now well positioned to continue to evolve into a vibrant lifestyle and cultural destination with a diverse mix of small bars, live music venues and restaurants,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian said safety would remain important.
Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said ID scanners will be retained as an “additional public safety measure”.
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the changes were key to help Sydney be a true 24-hour world city.
“This is an important step towards implementing our 24-hour Economy Strategy to ensure Kings Cross flourishes into a vibrant, diverse, inclusive and safe precinct as our city powers ahead with confidence,” he said.
Police Minister David Elliott said police would continue to have a “strong presence” in the precinct.
The laws were introduced in 2014 after the deaths of one-punch victims Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie. A 2019 parlliamentary inquiry found they had been effective in reducing alcohol-fuelled violence.
ABC: NSW Government to scrap controversial lockout laws in Kings Cross – ABC News
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