Select Committee report urges overhaul of Sydney lockout laws

The NSW Government should appoint an “overarching coordinator” responsible for reinvigorating Sydney’s nightlife, according to a parliamentary report that recommends abolishing the unpopular lock out laws.

The Report of the Joint Select Committee on Sydney’s Night Time Economy found that the laws had had a significant economic impact, costing the city $16 billion a year.

The report finds that a coordinator should be appointed to liaise with police, community representatives, health professionals and businesses and be tasked with designing and implementing a strategy to reinvigorate Sydney’s nightlife.

To further promote diversity in Sydney's nightlife, the Committee has recommended that some of the more stringent restrictions on businesses be relaxed. There should also be a single point of contact for businesses to discuss concerns they have about which restrictions are the most problematic for them and how things could be improved while maintaining a safe environment.

It also recommends better coordination between inspectors from the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority, Liquor & Gaming, the City of Sydney Council, NSW Police and other agencies, as well as improved lighting and streetscapes to make Kings Cross more pedestrian-friendly.

The report urges the government to consider developing regulations allowing unused government buildings to be used as creative art spaces and for shops and offices to be repurposed for use by creative businesses by night.

The Committee recommends that the current freeze on liquor licences be retained until its review in June 2020. This review should pay particular attention to the impact of the freeze on smaller music venues in the Sydney CBD. It is emphasised that the freeze is not for small bars, or other diverse and innovative licence types.

The report concludes that it is critical that the removal of the 2014 laws in Sydney CBD be subject to a review in 12 months. This review should look at any change in the assault levels, the feedback of businesses and the impact on the economy. This review should also look at the Kings Cross precinct and determine if any changes to its diversity and density have been made, and if these changes are sufficient to warrant regulatory relaxations.

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